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Is OTT becoming a political playground for Bollywood filmmakers?

The emerging OTT streaming space is a different ball game altogether to be a political playground for Bollywood filmmakers

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Politics has never really been a favoured subject for Bollywood filmmakers. In a country where mainstream cinema never really got out of the grip of censor woes and protest groups, the Hindi film industry by and large avoided cinema that spoke of politics and politicians.

Bollywood cinema has naturally hesitated looking at Indian politics and political themes while setting up fictional drama.

There have been cases in the past, after all, when themes pertaining to politics faced trouble. Kissaa Kursee Kaa was banned from release during Emergency owing to its satirical depiction of democracy in the country. Aandhi was banned a few months after release because it was felt that the film bore shades of Indira Gandhi and her politics. Parzania, depicting a fictional story against the backdrop of the 2002 Gujarat riots, was banned in that state, and so was Firaaq. Inshallah Kashmir won a National Award, but was denied release, allegedly for showing the torture of ex-militants at the hands of army men.

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However, the emerging streaming space is a different ball game altogether. With no direct censor control and with films and/or series going straight to cyber space, makers have the luxury to explore politics through fiction. While not many shows have directly tackled such themes, the numbers are growing.

It will be a while before an Indian filmmaker will be game to show heavy politics the way, say, The Comey Rule did. But there has been a definite move towards intrepid portrayal of political characters and themes in our shows lately.

This author brings you some of the shows that use politics as a springboard for fictional drama:

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TANDAV

Set in Delhi, the fictional drama takes one behind the closed corridors of power and politics, and showcases the lengths to which people will go in the pursuit of power. It stars Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Sunil Grover, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Kritika Kamra, Sarah Jane Dias, Sandhya Mridul, Annup Sonii and Hiten Tejwani. “Tiger Zinda Hai” director Ali Abbas Zafar is making his digital debut with the series. The Amazon original series will release on January 15.

DARK 7 WHITE

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The political thriller is centred on the death of Sumeet Vyas’s Yudhveer Singh while he was on his way to becoming the Chief Minister, and a police officer (Jatin Sarna) joining the investigation. Also featuring Nidhi Singh, Monica Chaudhary, Taniya Kalra, Kunj Anand, and Rachit Bahal, the show is available on Zee5 and ALTBalaji.

QUEEN

Ramya Krishnan’s “Queen” chronicles the life of Shakti Seshadri, a character that bears uncanny resemblance to late Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa. The series captures her struggle with her family’s adverse financial position, her excelling in academics and rising to the rank of a state topper and then emerging a superstar in the film industry, and eventually becoming the youngest chief minister of her state. The show streams on MX Player.

CITY OF DREAMS

Set in Mumbai, the 10-episode political thriller is helmed by Nagesh Kukunoor. It narrates the story of the feud within the Gaikwad family, which erupts after an assassination attempt on a polarising political figure. The show stars Atul Kulkarni and Priya Bapat, and is available on Disney+ Hotstar.

MODI: JOURNEY OF A COMMON MAN

Mahesh Thakur, Darshan Jariwala, Ashish Sharma, and Makrand Deshpande topline the cast of the political drama that follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s life from childhood to 2014, when he becomes Prime Minister of India. The show is available on Eros Now.  –ians/sug/vnc

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