Anthology films and series can be a great way to sample the work of a variety of new directors without committing to watch an entire TV series or feature-length movie. Thankfully, Netflix has you covered with anthologies featuring works by some of India’s most exciting filmmakers.
From the very beginning, Netflix India has been bullish on anthologies. When the streamer started releasing Original content from India in 2018, the third Original project it launched was the anthology Lust Stories — an offshoot of the 2013 theatrical release Bombay Talkies, featuring all four of the directors who participated in that anthology celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema. Since then, Netflix has released nine more anthologies in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu, with a Malayalam anthology in the works as well.
Netflix gets top talent to participate in these anthologies and often works with the same directors on multiple projects, so they can be easy way to find your next favorite filmmaker.
Below are some of the directors who have participated in Netflix’s anthologies, along with which story they directed for a particular anthology — plus some other films and series to watch on Netflix once you’re hooked.
Anthology segments: Ghost Stories (Story #1), Lust Stories (Story #2), Bombay Talkies (Story #3 – “Sheila Ki Jawani”)
Other titles to watch: Dil Dhadakne Do, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Luck By Chance
Netflix is wild about Zoya Akhtar, and for good reason. She has a knack for creating relatable characters and putting them at pivotal decision points in their lives — from the buddies on a bachelor party road trip in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara to a wealthy family struggling to maintain their perfect facade in Dil Dhadakne Do. The only project from Netflix India at June’s Tudum event was Akhtar’s upcoming period musical The Archies (based on the comics), which speaks to the streamer’s confidence in Akhtar. While we wait for that to release, check out her charming Bombay Talkies entry, “Sheila Ki Jawani,” about a little boy’s obsession with actress Katrina Kaif.
Anthology segments: Ghost Stories (Story #2), Lust Stories (Story #1), Bombay Talkies (Story #4 – “Murabba”)
Other titles to watch: Sacred Games (Netflix Original Title), Choked (Netflix Original Title), AK vs AK (Netflix Original Title)
Another of Netflix’s favorites is Anurag Kashyap, one of the men who brought the hit series Sacred Games to life in 2018. He’s drawn to troubled characters and folks caught up in dangerous activities. Kashyap contributed short films to the same three anthologies as Akhtar, in addition to making the Netflix Original movie Choked. The most unusual of his Original projects on Netflix is one that he stars in but did not direct — the terrific dark comedy AK vs AK, in which Kashyap plays a twisted version of himself in a battle of wits against actor Anil Kapoor.
Anthology segments: Ghost Stories (Story #4), Lust Stories (Story #4), Bombay Talkies (Story #1 – “Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh”)
Other titles to watch: What the Love with Karan Johar (Netflix Original Title), Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
The third participant in the same trio of anthologies as Kashyap and Akhtar is Karan Johar, whose production house Dharmatic Entertainment has a development with Netflix. Johar himself has appeared in episodes of The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives (a Dharmatic production), and he hosted his own dating reality series What the Love with Karan Johar. As a director, Johar has played a huge role in defining what the term “Bollywood” signifies globally, making movies with characters in couture experiencing love, loss, and family drama in exotic locations, accompanied by lavish musical numbers. You can get a taste of Johar’s aesthetic with his entry in Ghost Stories or dive right in to the deep end with Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.
Konkona Sen Sharma
Anthology segments: Lust Stories 2 (Story #2 – “The Mirror”), Ajeeb Daastaans (Story #3 – “Geeli Pucchi”)
Other titles to watch: Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare (Netflix Original Title), Luck By Chance, Talvar
While Konkona Sen Sharma only has one project on Netflix where she serves as director — her short film “The Mirror” in the recently released Lust Stories 2 — her presence on the streamer as an actor is too big to be ignored. She stars in a segment of the anthology Ajeeb Daastaans, directed by Neeraj Ghaywan (who directed all the episodes of Sacred Games Season 2), and she also starred in Zoya Akhtar’s Luck By Chance. Keep an eye out for Sen Sharma in the forthcoming Original series Soup by director Abhishek Chaubey (more on him below).
Gautham Vasudev Menon
Anthology segments: Paava Kadhaigal (Story #3 – “Vaanmagal”), Navarasa (Story #9 – “Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru”)
Other titles to watch: Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo, Don, Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal
Gautham Vasudev Menon is another actor/director, though he has more credits behind the camera than Sen Sharma. Menon works across multiple languages, but all of his projects on Netflix are in Tamil, including his two acting roles in Don and Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal. He acts in the segment he directed for the anthology Paava Kadhaigal, and he appears in the credits of Navarasa twice: as director of the segment “Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru” and as an actor in the segment “Peace” by Karthik Subbraj (more on him below, too).
Anthology segments: Ray (Story #3 – “Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa”), Ankahi Kahaniya (Story #2)
Other titles to watch: Kaminey, Raat Akeli Hai (Netflix Original Title)
Though director Abhishek Chaubey’s best-known films aren’t available on Netflix, the streamer is clearly interested in working with him going forward. Chaubey created and directed the forthcoming Original series Soup: a dark comedy that stars Konkona Sen Sharma as an aspiring restaurateur who gets mixed up with the wrong people. In addition to the two short films Chaubey directed for the anthologies Ray and Ankahi Kahaniya, you can check out his screenwriting work in the crime thriller Kaminey. He also produced the Netflix Original cop drama Raat Akeli Hai.
Anthology segments: Lust Stories 2 (Story #3 – “Sex with Ex”)
Other titles to watch: Typewriter (Netflix Original Title), Badla, Anaamika
Another filmmaker with a project in the works for Netflix is Sujoy Ghosh, who is putting the finishing touches on an adaptation of the Japanese novel The Devotion of Suspect X. In addition to his contribution to Lust Stories 2 — which showcases his fondness for mysteries with a unique visual flair — Ghosh’s other Netflix Original project is the 2019 horror series Typewriter. The 2014 film Anaamika is a Telugu remake of Ghosh’s best known movie, Kahaani (which is not streaming anywhere at the moment, unfortunately).
Anthology segments: Ray (Story #4 – “Spotlight”)
Other titles to watch: Monica O My Darling (Netflix Original Title), Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota, ’83
Sujoy Ghosh isn’t the only Indian filmmaker to adapt a Keigo Higashino novel for Netflix. Vasan Bala’s terrific neo-noir comedy thriller Monica O My Darling is based on Higashino’s Burutasu No Shinzou. While you can ease your way into Bala’s filmography with the short story he contributed to the anthology Ray or by watching the sports drama ’83, which he co-wrote, I recommend going straight for his bananas martial arts flick Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota (“The Man Who Feels No Pain“). This action comedy about a guy who can’t feel pain and who grows up on a diet of karate movies is totally fun and unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Anthology segments: Navarasa (Story #2 – “Summer of ’92”)
Other titles to watch: Sometimes (Netflix Original Title), Billu, Chup Chup Ke
Prolific director Priyadarshan works across multiple languages, but both of his Netflix Original projects so far have been in Tamil. His contribution to the collection Navarasa — which is made up of short films each based on a different feeling or emotion — is themed around “haasya” (“laughter”). His Hindi theatrical releases Billu and Chup Chup Ke are also available for streaming.
Anthology segments: Feels Like Ishq (Story #3 – “Star Host”)
Other titles to watch: Love Per Square Foot (Netflix Original Title), Udaan, What the Fish?
Anand Tiwari is responsible for the very first Netflix Indian Original production (not counting stand-up comedy specials): 2018’s breezy romantic comedy Love Per Square Foot. His only other directorial venture on Netflix is his contribution to the anthology Feels Like Ishq, but he can be seen acting in a couple of Hindi films: What the Fish? and Udaan (which was written by Anurag Kashyap).
Anthology segments: Navarasa (Story #6 – “Rowthiram”)
Other titles to watch: Minsara Kanavu, Bombay, Thalaivii
Arvind Swami appears in Navarasa twice — in front of the camera in the third segment, “Project Agni,” and behind the camera for the sixth segment, “Rowthiram,” his directorial debut. Though Swami primarily acts in Tamil — as he does in Navarasa and the theatrical releases Bombay and Minsara Kanavu — he acts in Hindi in the political drama Thalaivii.
Anthology segments: Navarasa (Story #5 – “Peace”)
Other titles to watch: Jagame Thandhiram (Netflix Original Title), Petta, Boomika
Karthik Subbaraj has directed some of the Tamil film industry’s biggest stars, from Superstar Rajinikanth in Petta to Dhanush — aka Chris Evans’ “sexy Tamil friend” in The Gray Man — in the Netflix Original crime drama Jagame Thandhiram. Once you’re through those films and the Navarasa story “Peace”, check out the eco-thriller Boomika, which Subbaraj produced.
Which of these anthologies and directors do you plan on checking out? Are you already a fan of any of these filmmakers? Let us know in the comments below!