Jehanabad: Of Love & War | Cast: Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Ritwik Bhowmik, Harshita Gaur | Showrunner: Sudhir Mishra | Hindi | SonyLIV
Bihar’s politics is so full of drama that reality often pales in comparison. The shocking rape of young Shilpa Agarwal became one of the most appalling incidents in Maharani 2 on SonyLIV. Mohammed Shahabuddin’s long criminal career was the subject of a fascinating season of Rangbaaz: Darr ki Rajneeti on Zee5, while the real life exploits of IPS officer Amit Lodha were the inspiration for Netflix’s Khakee: The Bihar Chapter. And this was just last year. Now a jail break of more than 300 prisoners in 2005 in Jehanabad, organised by a group of Naxalites, is the basis of a new SonyLIV series simply called Jehanabad. Mixing fact and fiction, the series tells the parallel stories of a Naxalite leader Deepak Kumar (Parambrata Chattopadhyay) and a young idealistic English lecturer Abhimanyu Singh, (Ritwik Bhowmik) who is drawn to his effervescent student Kasturi Mishra (Harshita Gaur). There is a moment of shock and awe when the two stories converge in a series that has quite a few twists and turns. With a fine cast in unusual roles, there is an effort to go beyond stereotypes of vile politicians, servile policemen and bile-spewing Naxalites. There is a young woman who wants to live and love on her own terms to the complete bewilderment of her parents, a young man who seems to be the personification of a gentleman, a poised revolutionary with a sudden propensity for violence, a politician who is crooked but also well-meaning in a patriarchal way, and overworked police officers trying their best to balance VIP duty with routine law and order tasks. Explosions, gun fights, ambushes, the series has all this and more. Bhowmik does a fine job of playing an upstanding citizen and Parambrata is all fire and thunder, a revolutionary who is more than a cardboard cutout. The love between Bhowmik’s lecturer and Gaur’s student is portrayed tenderly. The band of Naxals could have done with more fleshing out but perhaps there is room for it in a second season?
Why watch it ?For that old chestnut coming true: Truth is indeed stranger than fiction
Engga Hostel| Cast: Sacchin Nachiappan, Avinaash Ramesh, Samyuktha Director: Sathish Chandrasekaran | Tamil | Prime Video
This Tamil version of the Hindi series Hostel Daze is set in an engineering college and begins with ragging, what else? Various kinds of unwashed, harassed and tortured young men do what engineering students are famous for—discover everything that they’ve missed out on for the first 18 years of their lives. It’s like a survival guide to engineering college. It teaches you to scorn (female relationships, plus certain body parts equals bad words), to counter ragging (by wearing a fuchsia pink shirt and behaving like a rich man’s son), to survive the girls’ hostel (wear a dupatta over your T-shirt) and to become popular (get new porn videos).
Why watch it? To remember one’s youth, which even in its leering vulgarity, seems so innocent
In Case You Missed It
National Treasure: Edge of History | Cast: Lisette Olivera, Catherine Zeta-JonesProducer: Jerry Bruckheimer | Director: Mira Nair (episode one) | English | Disney+Hotstar
A treasure forgotten for centuries, tended to by indigenous people of Montezuma, an archaeologist who knows about the three relics that bear the clues (played by the great Harvey Keitel), a young woman with the ability to solve puzzles and her squad, and a recently dead beloved mother. This is pure Disney fantasy dipped in picture perfect multiculturalism and a delicious villain played by a blonde Catherine Zeta-Jones in a series of enviably smart pantsuits. Director Mira Nair gets the breathless pace and fun tenor right from the beginning, which never slackens.
Why watch it? Escape, fantasy, fun. It’s chewing gum for the brain