Most Impactful Hindi Web Series Of 2023

A good thing about these web series is several of them have left a huge impression in the minds and hearts of the audiences.

In the last few years, the number of web series in Hindi has been on the rise, particularly after the advent of mainstream production houses in the OTT space.

For example, YRF Chief Aditya Chopra forayed into the digital space in 2023 with the impactful human drama The Railway Men, based on the Bhopal gas tragedy.

First-time director Shiv Rawail had a difficult subject to deal with given the sensitivity of the issue. However, the newbie more than rose to the challenge. He didn’t shy away from addressing the moral corruption within the political landscape of that period.

Zoya Akhtar, of course, created her own stamp in the OTT space with the two seasons of Made in Heaven and Dahaad.

Similarly, acclaimed director Neeraj Pandey struck gold with the web series Special OPS and The Freelancer (though he is only the creator and not the director of The Freelancer his imprint is visible).

A good thing about these web series is several of them have left a huge impression in the minds and hearts of the audiences.

Kaala Paani, directed by the duo of Sameer Saxena and Amit Golani, was a gripping dystopian drama set in the backdrop of a mysterious disease in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The show dealt with various themes like environmental exploitation and the harmonious relationship that indigenous people share with nature. It did suffer from pacing issues but still, it was gripping enough.

The ensemble cast led by Mona Singh also delivered brilliant performances. For Mona Singh, it was a double whammy after her impactful turn in Made in Heaven Season 2.

Similarly, director duo Prashanth Nair and Randeep Jha also delivered an unforgettable tale of courage and resilience Trial by Fire based on a real-life story.

After a long gap, Abhay Deol did some of his work here as Shekhar Krishnamurthy. Much like the other Deols — Dharmendra, Sunny, and Bobby Abhay — also rocked this year but in the digital format.

Now, let’s check the most impactful web series made this year in Hindi.

Made in Heaven Season 2

Radhika Apte in Made In Heaven Season 2
Radhika Apte in ‘Made In Heaven Season 2’. (S)

Contrary to the title Made in Heaven, there is nothing heavenly about how most of the marriages are portrayed in the two seasons. There were solid expectations from the second season, given how the first one was received.

Directors Zoya Akhtar and Neeraj Ghaywan among others not only delivered a solid follow-up but also pushed the envelope further in exposing the double standards and hypocrisies that dwell in our society through different weddings.

Just like the first season, here too, the social aspects came out strongly. Yes, the show could have been done with a crisper edit, but that didn’t diminish the impact of these stories.

Out of all the episodes, my two most favourite are the ones directed by Neeraj Ghaywan. One of them is about a successful author and Professor Pallavi Menke (Radhika Apte).

She is a Dalit Buddhist who asserts her Dalit identity at every step, including her wedding ceremony. Radhika Apte’s fiery performance coupled with Neeraj Ghaywan’s direction made this a punch-packed episode.

Another episode directed by Neeraj Ghaywan revolves around a man and a woman in their 50s having an extramarital affair without the knowledge of their respective spouses. Neelam Kothari and Samir Soni played Kriti and Gulshan respectively.

They were lovers while in college. This episode ends with Kriti taking a bold step that obviously doesn’t go down well with her children.

The performances across the board were first class with special mention to Radhika Apte and Mrunal Thakur in their extended special appearances.

Mrunal played a beauty queen struggling in an abusive relationship. The actress did a wonderful job, particularly in the breakdown scenes.

Dahaad

Gulshan Devaiah in Dahaad
Gulshan Devaiah in ‘Dahaad’. (X)

Dahaad directed by Reema Kagti and Ruchika Oberoi was more than a police procedural about a serial killer.

Some important social issues were also addressed in a hard-hitting manner.

Zoya Akhtar wrote the screenplay for Dahaad. For those who are not aware, Dahaad is inspired by the story of a real-life serial killer Cyanide Mohan.

Vijay Varma as the serial killer was terrific. He played socially deviant roles in the past too, like Darlings. Here too, he makes a huge impact as Anand Swarnakar.

He appears to be a do-gooder on the surface but what he actually does is seduce women from the lower strata of society, particularly the daughters of those who cannot afford to give dowry.

He camouflages himself into a different person each time and seduces them with sweet talk. Once they fall for him and sex takes place, he believes they are characterless and deserve to die.

Vijay was simply fantastic both as a serial killer who has unresolved issues with his dad and also as the middle-class married man who pretends to be a great husband and father.

Another standout feature of Dahaad is the performance of Gulshan Deviah as Devilal Singh. Devilal Singh is not only a determined police officer but also weathers a big storm at home due to his progressive outlook.

Devilal wants his daughter to be independent and not confine herself to being a housewife in future. His wife doesn’t think that way and this results in a conflict between husband and wife.

His progressive outlook can also be seen in the few scenes he shares with his son. The best example of this is the moment when Devilal tells his son that it is natural to have curiosity about sex at his age but at the same time, he needs to be cautious in these matters.

Gulshan was absolutely magnetic in every scene.

Sonakshi Sinha was adequately fierce but her performance feels like a letdown in comparison to others.

Another area where Dahaad slightly faltered was its climax. The confrontation scene between Vijay and Sonakshi needed to be more powerful. Still, Dahaad was definitely a worthy roar.

Scoop

Karishma Tanna in Scoop
Karishma Tanna in ‘Scoop’. (X)

Hansal Mehta has made a niche for himself with stories based on real life, whether it is Shahid (2012), Aligarh (2015) or Omerta (2017).

His web series debut Scam 1992 (2020) was also based on the real-life rags-to-riches story of stockbroker Harshad Mehta.

Continuing this route, Hansal Mehta once again chose a real-life story for his second web series — Scoop. This time the focus was on a real-life investigative Journalist Jigna Vora.

Jigna Vora was falsely suspected of having a hand in the murder of another investigative journalist, Jaideb Sen (Prosenjit Chatterjee). As a result of her arrest, Jigna changes from being a confident journalist to a dejected woman. Karishma Tanna delivered a breakthrough performance in the titular role.

Apart from Karishma, Harman Baweja and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub were also competent in their respective parts.

In fact, the character of Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub is also based on a real-life person named Hussain Zaidi. Hussain Zaidi is, of course, a prominent investigative journalist along with being a prolific writer. He was the mentor of the real-life Jigna.

A strong aspect of the Scoop web series is not only how Hansal Mehta depicted the challenge faced by these journalists in their everyday lives and the effect it has on them, but he also did a first-class job in showing the prejudices that female professionals face.

Hansal Mehta also deserves credit for how he fearlessly exposed the nexus between Dawood Ibrahim and the police.

Hussain Zaidi was also involved in this web series as part of research and his hand is clearly visible on many occasions.

Jubilee

After co-directing Sacred Games in 2018, Jubilee is the first full-fledged web series that Vikramaditya Motwane directed. He successfully transported the viewers into the 1940s.

Aparshakti Khurrana in Jubilee
Aparshakti Khurrana in ‘Jubilee’. (X)

The focus was the Hindi film industry of that time with the backdrop of the Independence movement and partition.

It is broadly inspired by the lives of prominent yesteryear film personalities Himanshu Rai and Devika Rani (Shrikant Roy and Sumitra Devi in the web series). Prosenjit Chatterjee and Aditi Rao Hydari played these parts.

The other prominent characters include Binod Das (Aparshakti Khurrana) Shrikant’s Man Friday who aspires to become a big actor. Niloufer Qureshi (Wamiqa Gabbi) is a courtesan.

Sidhant Gupta is Jay Khanna, a Pakistani refugee who is desperate to find a footing in Bombay. They both are street smart and end up striking a friendship with a common goal of making it big in the city and Roy Talkies.

Jubilee is a show that immerses the viewers from the first frame. The technical department deserves major kudos along with the director.

The art direction in particular is top-notch. The sets of Priti Gole and Yogesh Bansod are truly era-appropriate. Similarly, the cinematography of Pratik Shah enhances the overall experience.

What also made Jubilee binge-worthy was how Vikramaditya captured the turbulent political atmosphere and the effect it had on the film industry. Many scenes resonate with today’s times.

For example, there is a moment where Prosenjit Chatterji’s Shrikant Roy talks about the dangers of using cinema for propaganda. The characterisations were also layered particularly the ones essayed by Sidhant Gupta, Wamiqa Gabbi, and Aparshakti Khurrana.

Sidhant Gupta perfectly portrayed the pain and also the fighting spirit of a young man who has suddenly become a refugee in what was until recently his own country.

Wamiqa Gabbi’s Niloufer is someone who has big aspirations and to fulfil those dreams she takes all the possible routes. Some of it is questionable too but at the same time, Niloufer never comes across as compromising. Wamiqa effortlessly portrayed all these shades.

Aparshakti Khurrana took a huge U-turn from his regular comic roles. His character Binod Das has some grey shades which the actor pulled off with panache.

Certain passages in the show could have been done with a tighter edit.

Also, Aditi Rao Hydari’s Sumitra Devi needed to be more power-packed both in writing and performance. Her romantic scenes with Jamshed Khan (Nandish Singh Sandhu) with whom she tries to elope are loosely written.

Despite these flaws, Jubilee is still a very well-made web series.

Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo

Filmmaker Homi Adajania created a niche for himself with the likes of Being Cyrus (2005) and Finding Fanny (2014).

With Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo, the director made his digital debut. The show was produced by Dinesh Vijan under Maddock Films.

Dimple Kapadia in Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo
Dimple Kapadia in ‘Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo’. (X)

Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo was a formidable tale of four badass women set in the remote village of Hastinapur, somewhere in Rajasthan.

Savitri (Dimple Kapadia) is a matriarch who runs a company named “Rani Cooperative”. On the surface, this company produces various products but there is also a dark side.

Savitri’s team of women includes Kajal (Angira Dhar), Bijilee (Isha Talwar), and Shanta (Radhika Madan). While Shanta is the rebellious daughter Kajal and Bijilee are daughter-in-laws of Savitri.

These four together run drug business with a firm hand and live life on their terms. Deepak Dobriyal played the role of “The Monk” who is the arch-villain. Ashish Verma and Varun Mitra played the sons of Savitri.

Their characters have zero knowledge about the nature of their mother’s business. However, they soon come to know.

A strong aspect of Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo is how the director Homi Adajania makes Savitri’s palatial haveli a character in itself.

This is a place that is full of secrets. There was also an authenticity to the way the village was portrayed and the rustic makeover of these characters.

Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo is high on both thrills and emotions. There are many moments of tension and unpredictability as the plot thickens.

The emotional aspect can be particularly felt in the characterisation of Dimple Kapadia. Savitri is extremely brutal and menacing. At the same time, there is an emotional gravitas in the way her flashback is revealed.

Similarly, Isha Talwar’s Bijilee had the additional layer of homosexuality. Thankfully, this angle was dealt with sensitivity.

There are also some laugh-out-loud moments, thanks to Ashish Verma playing one of the sons. He brought in many chuckles with his understated humour.

Through his web series, the director also paid homage to both Mirch Masala (1987) and Bandit Queen (1994).

Talking about the performances, Dimple Kapadia led the ensemble by exuding both raw power and required vulnerability.

Angira Dhar and Isha Talwar also stood out with their power-packed performances.

The one slight flaw is the underutilisation of the legendary Naseeruddin Shah. The senior actor was a delight to watch in his portions. Still, the viewers feel that there could have been more of him.

Overall, this group of women gave a solid high to the viewers.

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