Starting today, we will do a list of what to watch while staying in. This is an occasional list which covers all or most of streaming services, with shows and movies old and new.
1. Little Fires Everywhere, Hotstar
This Hulu show based on Celeste Ng’s book may seem a little like HBO’s Big Little Lies and ITV’s Dark Water but it is darker and more disturbing. Starring Reese Witherspoon as a rich, white homemaker with four children in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and Kerry Washington as a black, artist, single mother who rents one of her properties and starts working with her as a “house manager”, the series is set in the late 90s.
The mixed-race school, the dynamic between the two women, a Chinese illegal immigrant who left her baby at the local church because she couldn’t feed her. The series has everything going for it–family intrigue, class issues, race clashes, and a great cast including everyone’s favourite lost white man, Joshua Jackson, lately seen in The Affair. Absorbing and addictive, just like Kerry Washington’s meatloaf with Ritz crackers.
2. She, Netflix
Written by Imtiaz Ali, and starring the stunningly talented Aaditi Pohankar, the series explores female sexuality in the garb of being a police procedural. Risqué and racy, the series also stars Vijay Verma as the quixotic criminal. Worth watching for Pohankar’s uninhibited performance, it has her playing a constable who goes undercover to crack an opening in a very dangerous criminal nexus.
In the beginning of She, Pohankar who plays Bhumika Pardesi, is shown as being extremely uncomfortable with her sexuality but when she is asked to play a prostitute, she is able to unleash her real self. Ali wrote all the episodes, produced it and guided its creative (it was directed by his brother). “I’ve been thinking about it for over a decade but could not fit it into feature length. I am very happy to finally tell a story I haven’t told for a long time,” he says.
3. Virus, Amazon
A 2019 Malayalam movie which stars some of the finest actors in the industry, from Rima Kallingal to Parvathi Thiruvothu, it chronicles the rise and decline of Nipah virus and how Kerala combated it.
Revathy stars as the health minister and the movie’s fictional depiction of how health workers handled the virus–good and bad–will send chills down any spine. This may well be the best time to watch this movie. Empathy will get us through this crisis.
4. Mentalhood, AltBalaji/Zee5
Karisma Kapoor is Meira from Kanpur in this series from Zee5 and AltBalaji and finally we have something almost as funny as BBC2’s Motherland with Anna Maxwell Martin.
With a lovely cast that has Sandhya Mridul, Shilpa Shukla, Shruti Seth, the hugely underrated Tillotama Shome and Dino Morea as the single father, it’s a welcome look at the lives of middle class moms (and one dad). If they do they’re not appreciated, if they don’t they’re criticised.
How do they handle the pressures of school, growing children, fitness regimes, middle class incomes, and self styled expectations? It’s a welcome return to form for Karisma Kapoor and a slice of life we don’t normally see on television–with nary a conniving sister in law and cruel mother in law in sight.