Netflix dramatically increased the amount of Original Indian content in its catalog in 2020, debuting a dozen scripted and unscripted series and even more Original movies. 2021 is poised to continue this trend, with lots of intriguing titles in the pipeline. Here are the TV series and movies we’re hoping to see in the new year.
New Original Series Lined up for 2021
Baahubali: Before the Beginning
Fans are still waiting for the prequel series Baahubali: Before the Beginning, a two-season spin-off of the blockbuster film franchise that was announced in 2018. A good portion of the first season was filmed in 2019, but a report in The Indian Express in September revealed that the series was undergoing a major creative overhaul in order to “do justice to the expansive vision, depth of storytelling, and complex characters.” Hopefully the revamp will be ready in 2021, but fans may have to wait until 2022.
Writer-director Alankrita Shrivastava specializes in stories about the struggles of contemporary Indian women, as seen in her 2020 Netflix Original film Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare. Bombay Begums sounds right on brand. Per Deadline:
“Five women, across generations, wrestle with desire, ethics, personal crises and vulnerabilities to own their ambition. As glass ceilings are shattered and hearts are broken, difficult choices have to be made. And as each woman strives to find her own truth, they find in each other an unexpected understanding and the sliver of a bond.”
Mai is the second collaboration between Netflix and actress Anushka Sharma’s production house Clean Slate Filmz, the first being 2020’s gorgeous period Gothic horror movie Bulbbul. The new series is likely to be another thriller, based on the description from Netflix:
Following a deep personal tragedy, the docile, 47-year-old wife-and-mother, Sheel, finds herself accidentally sucked into a rabbit hole of violence and power. Ensuing entanglement with white collar crime and politics that forever changed her and the world she inhabits.
Untitled Madhuri Dixit Series
Bollywood icon Madhuri Dixit and screenwriter Sri Rao — author of the fantastic cookbook Bollywood Kitchen — have been collaborating on a TV project for years, finally finding a home at Netflix. Variety reports the as-yet untitled drama series will draw on Dixit’s own experience, focusing on a family within the entertainment industry. It’s produced by Karan Johar as part of the content deal between his Dharmatic Entertainment and Netflix.
New Original Movies Coming in 2021
The White Tiger
The adaptation of the novel The White Tiger is the only title in this list with a confirmed release date: January 22, 2021. The English-language international production is already generating awards buzz for performances by newcomer Adarsh Gourav and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who also serves as executive producer. Gourav plays the driver for a wealthy Indian family who uses his wits to escape poverty and become a successful entrepreneur.
Technical problems forced Netflix to delay the planned release of Bombay Rose, a gorgeous hand-painted film considered a possible contender for a Best Animated Picture Oscar. Netflix describes this contemporary Indian romance from director Gitanjali Rao thusly:
Amidst the bustle of a magnetic and multifacted city, the budding love between two dreamers is tested by duty and religious divides.
Filmmaker and author Sachin Kundalkar writes and directs Cobalt Blue, the movie version of his novel about a traditional Marathi family thrown into chaos when the brother and sister both fall in love with the same man.
Netflix nabbed the global distribution rights to the coming-of-age film Desert Dolphin, about a teenage girl in rural India who finds her passion when she’s introduced to the sport of skateboarding. According to a Netflix press release, the film made a lasting impact in Rajasthan:
Desert Dolphin Skatepark, located in a remote cluster of rural villages in Khempur-Mavli district near Udaipur (the city of lakes and palaces), was constructed for the film with the support of Indian and International skate volunteers. The skatepark remains free for public use with the aim of continuing the social impact such parks have on rural communities. It’s one of India’s largest and Rajasthan’s first skatepark that is becoming a training ground for skaters from all over the country.
Director Dibakar Banerjee has made short films for Netflix’s Original anthology projects Lust Stories and Ghost Stories, but Freedom will be his first feature-length release for the streamer. The movie has an impressive cast that includes Naseeruddin Shah, Manisha Koirala, Huma Qureshi, Kalki Koechlin, and Neeraj Kabi. The Kashmir Monitor notes that portions of the film were shot in Kashmir in October. Netflix describes the plot:
It is the story of an Indian family interwoven with the personal, ideological and sexual history of India and how desire plays a common role in each.
Another product of Karan Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment, the anthology film The Other brings together an intriguing mix of performers, including Delhi Crime‘s Shefali Shah, Manav Kaul, Nushrat Barucha, Fatima Sana Shaikh, and Jaideep Ahlawat. Johar said:
An anthology allows us to bring together diverse creative minds to showcase different facets of the same concept in a unique manner, and Netflix presents these beautifully… Each director will bring their unique vision to the table, amalgamating in a piece that many viewers across the world will definitely resonate with.
Tribhanga – Tedhi Medhi Crazy
Tribhanga — which takes its name from an Odissi dance pose — is the screenwriting and directorial debut of actress Renuka Shahane. The Ajay Devgn Ffilms [sic] production stars Tanvi Azmi, Mithila Palkar, and Kajol, who tweeted:
Dehli Crime (Season 2)
Production is underway for Season 2 of Delhi Crime, which just won an International Emmy for “Best Drama” — the first ever International Emmy for an Indian series. The biggest change for Season 2 is that series creator Richie Mehta opted not to return. He told Film Companion:
I look at Delhi Crime season one as a standalone project. I was trying to do something with the help of a lot of extremely talented people, and I’m proud of what we achieved. And as you said, it’s an anthology so there’s no overlap. Each story will be its own thing, and its own story and characters which is great. I’m looking forward to seeing the new season just as much as everyone else.
Selection Day (Season 2 – Parts 3 & 4)
We reported in 2019 that Selection Day was renewed for a second season, but there’s been little news on its progress since then.
2020 Series Awaiting Renewal
Though there are rumors of second season for the dark comedy Hasmukh, nothing has been officially announced yet. Considering that the streaming service released two stand-up comedy specials by Hasmukh creator and star Vir Das in 2020 alone, it’s pretty clear that this creative relationship is important to Netflix.
Indian Matchmaking generated a ton of buzz — good and bad — when it premiered, so a second season seems like a no-brainer. While it hasn’t been formally renewed, the show’s creator Smriti Mundra is eager for another go. Season 1 took a year to film, so the chances of Season 2 being ready in 2021 are slim. But Mundra has lots of ideas for a new season, some designed to address criticism the show faced for its lack of diversity in casting. She told OprahMag.com:
Now that people know what to expect [from Indian Matchmaking], I suspect there are going to be people who will reach out to us for season two, who want to be on the show specifically to bring up issues—whether it’s patriarchy, colorism, or religious diversity.
Jamtara – Sabka Number Ayega
Unlike some other Netflix Original series, Jamtara – Sabka Number Ayega was “not conceived as a mini-series,” according to The Cinemaholic. Given that it draws inspiration from real-life crime stories just like Delhi Crime, moving the series forward as an anthology might make sense for Jamtara, too.
When fans raved about Masaba Masaba on social media, Good Housekeeping noticed series star Masaba Gupta “liking and retweeting any tweets that mention season 2.” Netflix India’s Instagram account straight up asked Masaba for a second season, so it seems like a matter of time before the series is renewed.
The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives
The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives isn’t even a month old, so there’s no renewal news to report yet. Still, Gauri Khan — who appeared in the Season 1 finale with her husband, superstar Shah Rukh Khan — is ready to return. She wrote on Instagram: “Hey girls … I’m gate crashing season 2.”
What Indian movies and series are you looking forward to in 2021? Let us know in the comments!