What has been the most phenomenal event in the Indian entertainment industry in the last couple of decades? Leave market watchers, even a random cinema lover will answer ‘the emergence of OTTs’ as the hottest event in the entertainment sphere of India. Particularly in the last couple of years, the way over-the-top media platforms have dominated is a story of tremendous turnround. What is being noticed carefully is the increasing popularity of thriller series and movies on these platforms. It is during the period of 2017-2020 that the Indian language TV series have taken the entertainment industry by storm.
OTTs and thrillers
Indians have traditionally been known for their cinema love. In terms of the annual number of films released (average 1913 movies) and tickets sold (average 3.5 billion tickets), India is at the top. Love stories and drama, which used to be popular in India, are being replaced by thrillers and crime movies. The success of Andhadhun, Trapped, Badla, Ittefaq, etc. in recent years suggests the country’s audiences’ new love affair with thrillers. What has instigated the flow of suspense movies are OTT platforms such as Netflix, Hotstar, Prime Video, MX Player, Voot, etc.
Thrillers that are killers in their genre
- Sacred Games: Sacred Games is probably the first of its kind Indian web TV thrillers that went on to become the most popular show on an OTT platform. The Netflix show was directed by national award-winning directors: Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, and Neeraj Ghaywan. The Phantom Films production starred some of India’s highest-rated actors including Nawazuddin Siddique, Saif Ali Khan, Radhika Apte, Pankaj Tripathi, and Kalki Koechlin.
- Mirzapur: Mirzapur’s Kaleen Bhaiya is India’s favourite antagonist in recent times. Pankaj Tripathi was well-acknowledged in a negative role in Mirzapur, while Ali Fazal, Vikrant Massey, and Rasika Dugal became overnight stars after the release of the prime original thriller web Series. The Indian thriller was created by Karan Anshuman.
- Ghoul: India’s second Netflix original after Sacred Games, Ghoul thrilled the audience with its horror-filled story and sensational plot. The miniseries was written and directed by Patrick Graham, and is based on a dystopian future of India where fascism is at the top. The acting skills of Radhika Apte, one of the most talented Indian actresses, along with some horrifying scenes keeps the audience engaged.
- Breathe: Released on Republic Day 2018, the prime original Indian web thriller stars R Madhavan in the lead role. The series is about love and crime. It asks audiences just one question – how far can one go to protect your lover. The Indian tv thriller’s first season was well-received by critics, and the second season, starring Abhishek Bachchan, awaits a release.
- Criminal Justice: Hotstar Specials’ first big release, Criminal Justice is the Indian adoption of the British tv series of the same name. Tigmanshu Dhulia’s brilliant direction is on display in the Indian thriller series. In addition to Pankaj Tripathi’s versatility, the audience witnessed Vikrant Massey’s acting skills very closely, probably for the first time.
- Police Diary 2.0: Probably the most popular thriller series in Tamil language, Police Diary 2.0 released on Zee5 on 1 November 2019. Showing some of the brutal crimes in Tamil Nadu, the 20-episode first season was appreciated by critics. Pooja Ramchandran and Santhosh Prathap’s acting talents were praised by audiences.
While there are talks in the market about OTTs taking over theatrical releases, it doesn’t look a possibility any time soon, especially in India. The experiences of watching in theatre and enjoying a movie on Netflix cannot be compared. However, India has shown a different face of its entertainment industry with the success of web series, that it can house the two at a time.