Since the launch of Netflix in India a few months back, everyone has been crying hoarse about the lack of ‘good shows’ in the Indian catalogue. They point out, almost choking with emotion, how the ‘best ones’ are still not available to Indian audiences. While some others say that “look, they do HAVE the best in India: Breaking Bad, Sherlock, Narcos, Fargo, Suits, Luther, House, Black Mirror and the flavour of the season (pun intended) Stranger Things”…it may be a valid concern that stuff like Mad Men, Person of Interest and Fringe are not available to Indian viewers to watch. Well, not legally, anyway.
But all is not lost. It may come as a surprise to many, but there are plenty of incredible shows on Netflix India that nobody is really talking about. Here I list but 10 of them. There are lots more.
- Last – Don’t smirk. I’m not talking about Lost. I’m talking about Last, the Korean show, and it’s not about a group of people stranded on an island. It’s the story of Tae-Ho, an investment Banker from Seoul who loses all he had in the course of one fateful night, and lands up on the streets. As he tries to fend for himself – at times literally eating off the streets – Tae-Ho comes across a parallel civilisation/ society run by homeless people. This city-wide network of hobos becomes his only chance at redeeming the money and power he’s lost and he must fight through the ranks to gain control of the crew. Very gripping and keeps you guessing at every turn.
- Misfits – When I heard the premise of this series, I thought it interesting but kinda cliched. A bunch of convicts gets hit by lightning, which endows them with super-powers. Sounds cliched, right? I was mistaken and how! The said superpowers are not the DC-Marvel kind. They are weird. Lemme explain. Curtis can rewind time whenever he is consumed by regret, Alisha turns anyone who touches her into a sex-maniac (age/gender no bar), Kelly can hear what people around her are thinking, Simon can go invisible when no one’s looking and Nathan…well, watch the show to know what power Nathan has. Nathan is quite the Chandler Bing in this motley gang of psychos, hence the most likeable. But I guess that’s what I think. Watch and decide for yourself!
- Happy Valley – It’s a happy sign that we are finally seeing some flawed-detective characters among women as well. Catherine from Happy Valley is one of them. A tough-as-nails cop who nurses demons of her own, she is on the lookout for Tommy, the man who raped and killed her daughter almost a decade ago. The fact that Catherine is raising Ryan – a son fathered by Tommy out of the rape – complicates things further. Tommy is released from jail and Catherine is determined to track him down. Unbeknownst to her, he is on the prowl again, having kidnapping another girl. An engaging narrative with well fleshed out characters, Happy Valley is as wholesome as most Brit shows nowadays. There are some heart-in-your-mouth moments to look out for, keywords being “rescue” and “houseboat”.
- Marcella – Marcella falls in the aforesaid flawed/disturbed female cop category, but if you thought it’s the same as Happy Valley, you cannot be more wrong. Marcella is the brain-child of Hans Rosenfeldt, creator of the much-loved Swedish thriller Bron/ The Bridge. We meet ex-cop Marcella Backland when she’s just been divorced by her husband, who happens to work for a shady corporate giant. A serial killer is on the rampage, and Marcella seemed to have crossed paths with him on one of her old unsolved cases. She is hired by the police department once again to help them nab the culprit this time and Marcella has a reason to live. But she can’t figure what she’s really after: revenge or redemption.
- Hinterland – Well, the show is really called Y Gwyll (try pronouncing that, I dare you) and it’s in Welsh. For the longest time I thought Welsh was maybe just a dialect of English, spoken in an unintelligible accent. How was I to know it’s a whole different language? But I digress. Hinterland is the English version of Y Gwyll. The title is as literal as it gets – its about the sinister goings-on in a tranquil Welsh town called Aberystwyth. DCI Tom Mathias goes about solving murders in the idyllic but eerie surroundings of the countryside.
- Zoo – One of my friends posted on Facebook: “Thank you ZOO. Not even a gold fish is welcome in my house now. You sick, sick TV show.” (Follow him on @BhatkaPanchi, he’s a riot) Now, I can hardly find a better way to describe Zoo or the impact it has on you. It doesn’t have the layers and psychological ramblings of the more successful shows, sure, but it’s such a guilty pleasure! Every single (non-human) animal in the planet is afflicted by a condition that makes them progressively violent towards humans. So, right from insects to cute puppies to giant apes, all go bloodthirsty at the sight of good ol’ homo sapiens. Whether you’re an animal lover who thinks humans always had it coming, or a twisted mind like mine that derives immeasurable glee out of seeing a fictionalised version of earth at the brink of extinction, you are gonna love Zoo.
- Marco Polo – There have been some people who were smart enough to expect Game of Thrones to be available on Netflix India, and were furious when it wasn’t. While we wish them a speedy recovery, it maybe worth noting that when you type “Game of Thrones” on Netflix, one of the related to titles it throws up is Marco Polo. If you are a Bong who grew up in the 80s, there are chances you might have come across the travails of this Venetian adventurer, in translation. The name is also carried by a well-loved character in a popular Bengali novel and an even more popular film where Marco Polo is played by none other than Utpal Dutt. There I go again. Coming back to TV shows, Marco Polo is a dramatised take on the eponymous traveller, chronicling his days in the court of the great Kublai Khan, the flamboyant grandson of Genghis Khan. This may sound somewhat like a dry history lesson but the show is anything but. From court intrigue to battle machinations to martial arts to gratuitous amounts of violence and…ahem, nudity, there’s plenty of reasons the Netflix search algorithm compares Marco Polo to Game of Thrones. There’s also this blind warrior monk who trains Marco to fight, and tangoes with a live cobra in his spare time. The monk is called Hundred Eyes, and he just earned a spin-off Netflix movie called, what else, One Hundred Eyes!
- Spotless – A French migrant who’s now assimilated into London mainstream, leads a mundane life as a…crime scene cleaner. Jean is an expert at the job, and now has team of professionals assisting him. He has left his dark days at the French countryside long behind, where he and his brother were party to a crime most foul. But his serene life takes a turn for the diabolic when that same brother comes to visit, with a dead woman in tow. All hell breaks lose when Jean realises his brother dearest has got themselves involved with the most dreaded gangster in all of London. If this isn’t enough for you, visualise two men in yellow hazmat suits scraping blood from the floor. Does that remind you of something? I thought so.
- Hatfields & McCoys – A series about a blood feud between two families during American Civil War. The aforementioned families, of course, are the Hatfields and the McCoys. Doesn’t sound enticing enough? Let me tell you who play the heads of these two families – William Anderson Hatfield is played by Kevin Costner, while Randolph McCoy is Bill Paxton. The miniseries was originally made for History Channel, but what the heck – it’s there in all its glory on Netflix India now. Enjoy.
- Shetland – For those who love their Nordic thrillers (The Bridge, The Killing/ Forbrydelsen), there’s a whole new genre to be explored, touted in the media as “Celtic Noir”. That’s a moniker for thrillers from the Irish/ Scottish and Welsh folks, and their time has come. If Hinterland listed above is a prime example of that, Shetland is (arguably) even better! There’s something about whodunits in a British/ Scottish countryside. Shetland is a delicious thriller that checks all the boxes of this genre, and keeps you guessing till the very end. During the setup, a new character is introduced every minute-and-a-half, and you won’t mind noting down the characters and their relations on paper, just to keep track. But do trust me when I tell you that all the effort is totally worth its while.
There, that’s 10 pretty good shows available on Netflix India that you cannot afford to miss. In an attempt to include shows that are less spoken about, I steered clear of the more ‘mainstream’ ones in similar space, like Luther, Broadchurch, Better Call Saul, Bates Motel – which, needless to say, are all streaming on Netflix and are all pretty awesome shows. There’s many more where this came from, but for now enjoy these ten.