By Pranjali Wakde
Ever since the start, films made in India always garnered success as soon as they hit the theatres. However, that was not the case when Indian web series started hitting the OTT platforms. People were sceptical to stream any of them, thanks to the already existing foreign web series and the horrific remake of them in India (Are you thinking about the Indian version of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and cringing ceaselessly? Yes, me too). And then, series like Sacred Games, Mirzapur, Kota Factory and so on were introduced – after that, there was nothing stopping the obsessed crowd from unlimited streaming!
However, unlike the films and TV shows – who have their separate awards – web series didn’t have anything they can be lauded by in the Indian scenario. And yet, some of the series have been recognized and picked up by international awards. Yes, you heard that right! Three of our most beloved web series have been nominated for the prestigious Emmy Awards. This award primarily focuses on recognizing outstanding achievements in the television industry, globally. You will now understand how much of a big deal this award is – no wonder India is absolutely ecstatic to hear about the nominations’ news.
The web series nominated are Delhi Crime, a Netflix original crime drama and Four More Shots Please! A real, bubbly all-girl-protagonist series, in best drama and comedy series respectively. Not only that but Made in Heaven’s own Arjun Mathur, who perfectly nails the role of the gay wedding planner, Karan Mehra, got a nomination in the category of the Best Performance by An Actor. It is indeed pleasantly surprising news, but not so much, as a handful of Indian web series did get nominations in the previous Emmy Awards. Unfortunately, Sacred Games, Lust Stories, The Remix and Radhika Apte, returned to India empty-handed.
Delhi Crime, selected for the best drama series category, will be competing season 2 of Germany’s ‘Charite’, UK’s ‘Criminal’ and season 2 of Argentinian ‘El Jardin De Bronce’. It is based on the Delhi gangrape and murder of 2012 – named as the Nirbhaya case – which then led to nationwide protests and a fortunate change in the rape laws of India. The series focuses more on the police investigation that happened after the crime was committed – and it is absolutely spine-chilling and thrilling.
What appeals the most to the people streaming Delhi Crime is how the actors flawlessly put together the characters, their actions, their thought process and their emotions. You’d sympathize with Vartika Chaturvedi, while thinking daggers when you’d lay your eyes on Jaysingh, all the while forcing you to sit on the edge of your seat in anticipation. The story was horrifying enough, but the way it was realistically shot and expressed made it all the more hauntingly appealing. It’d only be a wonder if it wasn’t nominated for Emmys.
Same goes for Four More Shots Please! The Amazon Prime Video original web series. It finds four young women, all of them in their early 20s and 30s, in middle of understanding themselves and their life, with the help of each other – and shots of tequila. The series was a bold step, as it is Amazon’s Prime Video’s first series featuring all-women-protagonists. The freshness and relatability just ooze out of the series, as you understand that maybe their lives aren’t that different from yours.
It is only recently that queer characters have shed their exaggerated, stereotypical cloak and put forth more real, humanized portrayals. One such apt depiction is done by Arjun Mathur, thus getting him nominated for an Emmy Award for his role in Made in Heaven. His character, Karan Mehra and his partner, Tara, are wedding planners, aiming to bag weddings of elite and uber-rich people. The weddings in every episode are different, meaning a variety of stories, exploring the very fabric of the elite class of modern India and self-centered aspirations, politics and ideologies.
While such nominations are not just a proud moment for the Indian entertainment industry, one can just sense and appreciate how far Indian web series have come in such a short time. They have everything all age-groups can consume – helping families to sit together and enjoy them. Aparna Purohit, Head of India Originals for Amazon Prime Video, says, “We constantly endeavour to create stories that are intensely local but can transcend all boundaries of geography, nationality and ethnicity, and these nominations only reaffirm that we are on the right path.”
These Emmy-nominated web series – and all the others – are very essence of Indian society, complete with its beauty, its flaws, its repulsiveness and its appeal. And finally, the world is starting to recognize it.