The Freelancer| Cast: Mohit Raina, Anupam Kher Creator: Neeraj Pandey | Hindi | Disney+Hotstar
Neeraj Pandey is a master at creating a seductive world of international conspiracies, hopping countries, with just enough gun-fights and truth bombs to make everything seem authentic. It’s a curious blend of muscular nationalism and dark web theories shot tightly, in exotic locations, with cliffhangers designed to keep you on edge. The stories also just happen to focus on global Islamic terror plots, which end up being foiled by an Indian hero with broad shoulders, flinty eyes and an unwavering righteous resolve. The Freelancer follows familiar territory in a different geography. The world is in peril again, ISIS is dreaming of reinventing itself with money from wealthy radicalised South Asian Muslims and is looking for volunteers who will sacrifice themselves for the cause. The main recruiter? A former SIMI activist (of course). A modern young Indian Muslim woman is abducted by her seemingly progressive Muslim in-laws to Syria to become fodder in the war for the Caliphate, to be tortured at the hands of glass-eyed women in burkhas with prongs, In this Islamic Gilead, the handmaids are the recruiters and gatekeepers, ensuring oppression of Westernised women who’ve forgotten true Islam. Enter the good Muslims, Inayat Khan, an upstanding Mumbai police officer suspended for not kowtowing to his political master, and Dr Khan, an authority on Islamic radicalisation who listens to Tchaikovsky and is given to saying things like, ‘I like to hold my gold’ (he means he still likes to read books in their physical form). But the star of the series is The Freelancer, aka Avinash Kamath (Mohit Raina), a former Mumbi police sub inspector turned mercenary, who negotiates with the CIA as easily as he stays one step ahead of IB and RAW. It would be entertaining if it’s otherisation was not so blatant.
Why Watch it? Neeraj Pandey’s terror-driven plots are always intriguing and do more PR for Indian state and non-state security forces than even the YRF spy franchise.
The Permanence of Pain
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart| Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Alyla Browne |Showrunner: Sarah Lambert English | Prime Video
When Australian bestselling writers meet Hollywood creators, the result is usually a splashy, spectacular family drama featuring secrets and lies among beautiful people. Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers are examples of this genre of Australian-American angsty epics. In The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, adapted from Holly Ringland’s book, the makers wisely decide to retain the Australian setting. There is something about the desolate surroundings of the gorgeous flower farm run by Weaver’s June Hart and a group of battered women that lends itself to trauma. Alice is June’s nine-year-old granddaughter. Her father assaulted her, and years later when we meet her as a grown woman, it seems as if the sadness is intergenerational. The lines on Weaver’s face tell us that she knows the world in all its ugliness and all its beauty. She is the heart of this show, in all her flawed humanity.
Why Watch it? For Sigourney Weaver’s long limbed grace and gravitas