City of Dreams, Season 3| Cast: Priya Bapat, Atul Kulkarni, Divya Seth Shah, Eijaz Khan Creator: Nagesh Kukunoor | Hindi | Disney+Hotstar
Politicians as monsters is not a new phenomenon in Indian entertainment but Ameya Rao Gaikwad (Atul Kulkarni) is a particularly feral beast and he has been manipulating, lying and cheating his way through two seasons of Nagesh Kukunoor’s City of Dreams on Disney+Hotstar. So it’s good to see him getting it back in spades, especially from Vibha played by the hugely underrated Divya Seth Shah. “I’d like to see the b******d cry,” she says to an agoraphobic billionaire (played by Rannvijay Singha) who runs a media empire and will help her in the task. “Mujhe power chahiye, scrutiny nahin (I want power, not scrutiny),” she says, at another point, explaining why she is not prime minister but an environmentalist who spearheaded her party’s Harit Bharat Abhiyan. The focus, this season, is on the relationship between Gaikwad and his daughter Poornima (Priya Bapat), who had to fight for her inheritance, which is to become chief minister of Maharashtra. It’s always been a cat-and-mouse game between them, determined by the quest for power, not filial love. But in Season 3 finally, all the betrayals and the deceptions are revealed. Only if the good step forward can the bad be extinguished. But not before a lot of blood is spilled, assassinations planned, and deaths rigged. How personal relationships are sacrificed in the quest for office, the adverse impact on families, and the toll it takes on those who step into this quagmire is shown here. This is old-fashioned melodrama with a big dollop of sensationalism. There’s a sleazy stint in Bangkok and Ameya’s affair that keeps the sex angle alive, even as the manoeuvres become more complicated.
Why Watch It: For the pleasure of trying to guess the politicians behind the screen characters
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Soppana Sundari | Cast: Aishwarya Rajesh | Director: SG Charles | Tamil | Disney+Hotstar
A lower middle-class family wins a car in a lucky draw and lives are changed forever. Aishwarya Rajesh lights up this dark comedy on what materialistic aspirations can do to human relationships. There are a lot of laughs but also a lot to be sombre about, as the family, where Agalya (Rajesh) is the sole earning member, a salesgirl in a jewellery store, tries to do the best she can for the family. There is an avaricious brother, a greedy groom-to-be, and a mother who has had enough of her drunken, ill husband. Who will benefit eventually from this free gift? Think Peepli [Live] transplanted to Chennai and you get the picture.
Why watch it: For the moral of the story, told with black comedy
Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai| Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Adrija | Director: Apoorv Singh Karki Hindi | Zee5
His body language is careful, his accent spot on, and his manner restrained. As PC Solanki, a hardworking, “Hindi-medium” lawyer, he fights the case of an underage girl accusing a powerful godman of molestation. As the girl braves social ostracism and relentless harassment, the self-declared godman is put in the dock. But his power seems unaffected and Solanki’s words to the young woman are well taken: “Tie your dupatta around your waist and pick up your sword,” he tells her. “The fight will be long and hard.” It is. But Manoj Bajpayee, as he jousts with posh, English-speaking lawyers who are arguing for the supposed godman, is in his element. Sometimes scared for his life, at most times bristling with righteousness, but at all times, human, he is, as always, a delight to watch.