What to binge-watch this weekend

Jinoy Jose P Tinsy Thomas | Updated on October 18, 2019 Published on October 18, 2019

OTT usage is also benefiting telcos given the spike in data consumption   -  Tero Vesalainen

A quick look at some of the most popular TV shows and movies

No major plans for the weekend? Fret not, we list out a few binge-worthy TV shows and movies to watch on the major OTT platforms available in India.

1. Super 30

Hindi Movie, 2019

Genre: Drama

Time: 2 hours 34 minutes

Where: Hotstar

Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Mrunal Thakur, Pankaj Thripathi

In case you missed this movie in theaters when it was released back in July 2019, now is the time to watch it. It is based on the inspirational and true story of Anand Kumar, a Patna-based tutor who chose to prepare 30 economically-challenged students every year for the IIT entrance exams without charging them a single paisa. Overcoming financial hardships and threats to his life from the coaching mafia, Anand Kumar continues to teach disadvantaged students. If you were looking for a bit of inspiration in your own life, this heart-warming story may fulfill that gap. These are true stories of children from impoverished backgrounds who manage to crack the formidable IIT entrance exam with absolutely no resources at their disposal.

Hrithik Roshan turns in a commendable performance as Anand Kumar, complete with local Bihari accent. Pankaj Thripathi, as usual, is at his rustic best. He plays the typical corrupt politician to the hilt. The supporting ensemble of students and other cast members also deliver memorable performances.

What is a Hindi film without song and dance? There are a couple of tedious song and dance sequences that you can thankfully fast-forward.


2. Downton Abbey

British TV series, 2010 - 2015

Genre: Historical period drama

Time: 6 seasons, 52 episodes, each episode is approximately 50 minutes in length

Where: Amazon Prime

Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael

The release of the Downton Abbey movie this month has sparked renewed interest in the British historical drama that ran from 2010 to 2015, winning many awards, including the Golden Globes, Emmys, BAFTA and several others. Based on the lives of the fictional British aristocratic family of the Crawleys, the story narrates social and cultural changes in a post-Edwardian era. Real-life events, such as the sinking of the Titanic, First World War and even the Jallianwala Bagh massacre find mention in the TV series.

The early 20thCentury was a time of change for British society as the war resulted in increased taxes for the owners of land. This led to a gradual decline of the aristocracy and the rise of the working class. The Crawley family, led by the Earl and Countess of Grantham along with their three daughters try to get on with life amidst dwindling fortunes. The stories do not just come from upstairs but downstairs too – the lives of the butlers, maids, grooms, and other assorted staff at the castle intertwine with the lords and ladies to present an authentic picture of English society at the turn of the century.

The series was a runaway hit across the world, leading to a demand for professionally trained English butlers in countries like China, Russia, and in the Middle East.


3. Secrets of Highclere Castle


Genre: Documentary

Time: 54 minutes

Where: Netflix

Binge-watching Downton Abbey might have led you to admire the English countryside, which is world-famous for its rolling hills, meadows, pretty gardens, and aristocratic estates. The TV series was filmed in a real-life English castle called Highclere in Hampshire, UK. It is a sprawling 5,000-acre estate belonging to the Earl of Carnavaron and it has been in his family for nearly 300 years.

This Netflix documentary takes you through the now-familiar rooms, halls, and grand staircases of the castle, as well as the surrounding parks. In addition to Downton Abbey, several other films and TV shows have been filmed at Highclere, including the 1991 movie starring Kevin Costner “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.”

(Tinsy Thomas s a freelance writer based in Mumbai)

And some more ... Jinoy Jose P's selection for the weekend

The weekend is here and most of us are looking forward to be spending Saturday and Sunday in the best ways possible -- and that includes, yes, binge-watching some great shows on the Web. But are you suitably lazy to surf the web and pick the best? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered. Every week, our mouse-potatoes would scramble the digital streaming universe and dig out the best shows, movies and documentaries you must not miss the weekend.  

Here’s the agenda for this weekend. 

1. El Camino (2h 2m. Netflix. Starring Aaron Paul) 

The movie sequel to Breaking Bad -- one of the most popular television series of our lifetime -- is finally here. And you get to see Jesse Pinkman (Paul) on the run. For BB fans, the movie is specially  vintage and director Vince GIlligan, who was the creator of Breaking Bad and its spin-off Better Call Saul, wields his magic once again. Watch for catharsis. Make sure you sip some wine in between so the philosophy of the film could feel more dense and deeply penetrating. Most likely you won’t have a hangover.     

2. Upstarts (1h 52m. Netflix. Starring Priyanshu Painyuli, Chandrachoor Rai and Shadab Kamal ) 

India’s start-up story is a potboiler. But not many movies or serials have been made on the subject. Upstarts sets out to change that. Directed by Udai Singh Pawar, the movie claims to be the first of its kind to capture the country’s start-up Mania. If you are an entrepreneur, investor, management student or a business analyst, watching Upstarts will warm the cockles of your heart for the very fact that it gives you a chance to watch something you hear about everyday without having to feel obliged to make a presentation about it to your boss. There is good acting and there are some takeaways.  

3. The Spy (6 episodes of about 50 mins. Netflix. Starring Sacha Baron Cohen)

Statutory warning: This is not for the faint-hearted. There is heart-breaking love, physical torture, nail-biting moments of espionage, chases, misses and loads of geopolitics. Sacha Baron Cohen, popular for his roles as Ali G and Borat Sagdiyev) does an incredible change of form here to become Israel's top Mossad spy Eli Cohen, who was executed in Damascus in Syria, in 1965. The mini-series will remind you of the French espionage marvel, The Bureau (created by Éric Rochant) and can leave a deep imprint on you even after you’ve finished watching it. In sum, it is a study in leadership, determination, loyalty and service. Your motivational coach can take a rest for the next few days, I bet. 

4. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (1h 47 m. Hotstar. Starring Melissa McCarthy and Richard E Grant)

This 2018 American biographical drama from the young director Marielle Heller (known for The Diary of a Teenage Girl) based on the screenplay by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, talks about the confessional memoir of Leonore Carol aka Lee Israel. McCarthy is Israel and the film is about how she tries to rekindle her ailing career as a writer by faking letters from deceased authors and playwrights. No, this is not your run-of-the-mill yawn-worthy films on the publishing industry. Every minute of it is a case study of sorts. Yes, you get to watch how a writer steals actual letters and autographed papers of celebrities from archives and replace them with her own cooked up copies. And there’s more. This is not a dark movie. It is a light, fun-filled movie on a dark world where values such as integrity, ethics, commitment take a backseat. But in the end, truth prevails. Sounds business?

5. Bohemian Rhapsody (2h 13 mins. Hotstar. Starring Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, etc.)

If you’ve missed this great film in cinemas, this is your time to catch it. And for all the other fans of iconic British rock music band, Queen, and its controversial, ultra-creative and flamboyant lead singer Farrokh Bulsara alias Freddie Mercury. The film portrays Mercury's struggles with sexuality and takes a peek into the lives of the other band members. Malek's Oscar-winning performance as Mercury will jolt you out of your routine life’s boredom and will force you to sit back and take note of all that’s happening in the world of sexual minorities. This is an unlikely musical, on that cue. But it will  make you hum and strum along, while enjoying some hot, nice coffee this evening. 

Published on October 18, 2019
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