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These 10 OTT Web-Series And Movies Helped Us Survive 2020!

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2020 wasn’t anyone’s year. However, it was the year of riveting and compelling blockbusters. It is not on the silver screen, but right within the ever-growing over-the-top platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sony LIV, and Voot, amongst others! 

While the nation went under a complete lockdown, our sanity was intact, thanks to tons of content that entertained and ignited much-required conversations on sexuality, caste, politics, and gender. 

Let’s go down the lane and ponder the best of the OTT’s that 2020 had to offer?

Paatal Lok

An incredible crime-thriller, produced by Anushka Sharma’s Clean Slate Filmz starring gems like Jaideep Ahlawat, Neeraj Kabi, and Abhishek Banerjee, Paatal Lok had us binge-watching the entire series in a single setting. Though, it brought about a much-needed conversation on caste, lack of trigger warning, and use of obsolete words targeting a community; it came packed with its fair share of outstanding reviews, classifying the show as, ‘India’s best crime thriller!’

Where: Amazon Prime Videos

Genre: Crime/Thriller

Scam 1992

Considered the underdog and underhyped web-series of 2020, Scam 1992 was a relief from the constant violence, bloodshed, and sex that popular OTT’s sell-off as ‘real India’. The infamous Harshad Mehta case turned over the Indian stock market and was even considered the desi ‘Wolf of Wall Street’. Hands-down, definitely a must-watch!

Where: Sony LIV

Genre: Drama/Thriller

Aarya

After decades of penance, Sushmita Sen finally adorns the screen with her impeccable performance in Aarya, which also won her the Filmfare. With a stunning star cast of Chandrachur Singh and Namit Das, Aarya leads the crime genre with its story, background score, and writing. 

Where: Disney+ Hotstar

Genre: Drama/Crime

Panchayat

Jitendra Kumar aka Jeetu after his applause-worthy performance in TVF’s Kota Factory returns to Amazon Prime Videos’ Panchayat to play a defeated Engineer stuck in rural India. The show, supported by the ever-glowing Neena Gupta and hilarious Raghubir Yadav delivers a comedy of errors battling stereotypes with logic.

However, the show was criticised for portraying rural India from an urban upper-caste lens but garnered tons of love and appreciation for its story, set, and soundtrack.

Where: Amazon Prime Videos

Genre: Comedy/Drama

Ludo

Coming from a totally biased position, I enjoyed Ludo for its non-sensical, crazy, and humorous storyline, star cast, writing, and of course, the beautiful soundtrack! With names such as Pankaj Tripathi, Aditya Roy Kapur, Sanya Malhotra, Rajkummar Rao, Abhishek Bachchan, Fatima Sana Shaikh, amongst others, Ludo guarantees a roller-coaster ride for two and a half hours. Coupled with juxtapositions, analogies, comparisons, and witty liners, Ludo is a must-watch for a light-hearted comic viewing, after a long day at work.

Where: Netflix

Genre: Comedy

Cargo

A never-seen-before sci-fi and comedy film, Cargo was initially premiered in 2019 at 2019 MAMI Film Festival but hit Netflix in September 2020. Starring Shweta Tripathi and Vikrant Massey, Cargo was a breath of fresh air. It feels like a different genre/cult which deserves an entire fandom of its own! Cargo wasn’t appreciated much in the Indian audience but garnered tons of international appreciation. With a story and star cast like that, Cargo is bound to have a monumental impact on India’s OTT content!

Where: Netflix

Genre: Sci-Fi

Raat Akeli Hai

Raat Akeli Hai is a crime/thriller-based story with ample twists and turns and no trigger warning! It comes with a star cast comprising of Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Shweta Tripathi, and Tigmanshu Dhulia, amongst others, the movie runs for too long. However, the ending is not predictable and keeps the viewers hanging till the very last minute. Raat Akeli Hai with its background score, mystery, and storyline, keeps you hooked. 

Where: Netflix

Genre: Crime

Asur

With intertwined tales of crime and Hindu mythology, Asur surpasses all expectations by creating an out of the world experience with mystery, crime, mythology, and thriller, coupled with an excellent star cast of Arshad Warsi, Anupriya Goenka, amongst others. While Asur failed to garner enough audience appreciation and create a stir in the OTT world, it surely garnered tons of appreciation from critics and IMDB’s 8.2 ratings.

Where: Voot 

Genre: Thriller/Crime/Mystery 

Dolly Kitty Aur Vo Chamakte Sitare

A story on sex and feminism, Bhumi Pednekar and Konkona Sen Sharma own up to their sexuality and are not afraid to do so. Dolly Kitty Aur Vo Chamakte Sitare also throws light on the saffron brigade, communalism, exploring identity, sex, virginity, and a lot of other themes. While the makers tried to make it more about feminism, it somehow lost its charm with the long run-time of two hours and 10 minutes. However, it is surely a great way to bring sex, sexuality, gender, and identity into the common man’s drawing-room. 

Where: Netflix

Genre: Drama

Mirzapur 2

The most-anticipated show of 2020, Mirzapur 2 lived up to its hype with tons of gore, sex, violence, and language! Since its initial release, Mirzapur has been a popular watch amongst India’s youth and continues to garner tons of viewers. While I personally disliked the lack of trigger warning to blood and gore, Mirzapur’s USP has always been to show India’s “reality”, and they stick by it. Again, with impeccable performances by Pankaj Tripathi, Ali Fazal, Divyenndu, Rasika Dugal, Shweta Tripathi, amongst others, remain the highlight of the show. 

Where: Amazon Prime Videos

Genre: Crime/Thriller

While film-makers tried to integrate politically correct and important themes on one-hand, disastrous movies like Coolie No. 1, Pati Patni Aur Panga, and Laxmii continue to be made. Laden with sexism, transphobia, 1930’s writing, and problematic songs, probably, the dream of responsible cinema is still far-fetched.

Nevertheless, one can always hope that responsible content continues to be made and question society’s evils. After all, social-learning theory by Bandura is a reminder that we learn from what we see.

For where credit is due, 2020 has been a hard ride, and these are some of the shows and movies made in India, which helped us survive this long, long year. Here’s to hoping that 2021 brings about no masks, tons of vaccines, and a lot more entertaining content!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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