This is a week where Hotstar and Netflix were in close competition on what they were offering us.
Hotstar was good enough to bring back to our screens the lovely Lara Dutta, last seen as the vivacious and emancipated true-life Begum Samru in the unfortunate Beecham House, which seemed like a very late apology for the East India Company from Gurinder Chadha. In Hundred, she is teamed with Rinku Rajguru, whom we all know and love from the searing Sairat. Together they make for a flip, cool team as they go about doing everything police officers dream of.
Hollywood in Ryan Murphy’s revisionist take on post-war Hollywood. What would have happened if Rock Hudson had been accepted as gay, or if Anna May Wong had been allowed to play a struggling Chinese farmer in The Good Earth (instead of a white woman)? With a fresh-faced cast that includes the magnetic Darren Criss, last seen as the troubled Andrew Cunanan in Murphy’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace, the series is typical of Murphy’s peculiar brand of entertainment: classy trash. It’s a guilty pleasure that the mythical Dreamland in the seven-episode series would approve of.
This weeks last must watch is Never Have I Ever, Mindy Kaling’s ode to her Boston childhood. It’s the life of a fictionalised teenager, Devi, in the US as a confident young woman who hangs out with an appropriately diverse group (a Chinese American girl and a Black girl who’s gay). Her father dies and Devi is left with a very strict mother, played with great charm by Poorna Jagannathan, who has become a staple in US shows–most recently she played a therapist in the fabulous Defending Jacob.
There is a cute voiceover by John McEnroe (who, spoiler alert, makes a brief appearance in the last episode) and lots of stereotypes about India which ironically Devi (played by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, whose parents were initially from Sri Lanka, then settled in Canada) propagates and her friends blast to smithereens (such as India has only vegetarians). It’s a lovely coming of age series and while it may play into the usual stereotypes of protective Indian parents and over-achieving second-generation children, these are countered with enough examples of Devi’s spirit and fire.