Much of the acclaimed content from South Asians living in South Asia and the west is in Hindi and English—but quality content in regional languages has been gathering pace. Now, with streaming platforms like Zee5 and Hoichoi, we have a chance to watch them and expose ourselves to worlds of diversity that reside in different languages. Content in Urdu, Bangla, Malayalam, and Tamil is increasing exponentially, and it is very good. We’ve picked five to watch for this weekend.
1. “Mahabharat Murders” (2022)
Stream on: Hoichoi (available on Android TV and Roku in the U.S.
A criminal who fancies himself a modern-day Duryodhan on the hunt for the Pandavas is leaving a murder trail—beginning with his Draupadi. Ace detectives Ruskana (Priyanka Sarkar) and Siddhartho (Arjun Chakrabarty) are assisted by an aspiring politician, who, known for his sincerity, is popularly called Yudhishthira. Can the trio stop the murders? Well, only six episodes are out, so we’ll have to wait to find out.
With a mythological twist, gory as murder mysteries are, Mahabharat Murders promises to be one of the finest in Bangla TV to come out this year.
2. Asim Abbasi’s “Churails” (2020)
“Churails” (Witches) is a 2020 ZEE5 exclusive and Zindagi Original Pakistani drama web series written and directed by award-winning British-Pakistani film director, screenwriter, and producer Asim Abbasi.
It tells the story of four women who start a detective agency to uncover cheating husbands in the act — but when one of them goes M.I.A, they find themselves caught in a web by Karachi’s most powerful. The thriller is more than just a fun watch; it boldly touches upon issues such as child marriage, harassment, abuse, forced marriages, racism, class inequalities, homosexuality, and society’s collective obsession with a fair complexion.
3. “Mukti” (2022)
Think “Lagaan,” but darker. Sports period drama “Mukti” (Freedom) tells the story of a team of prisoners in Midnapore Jail, all of different political leanings, who challenge British colonial officers in pre-independence India to a game of football. Which team will win this battle? And what will it take? This 10-episode Bengali series is a gritty drama that sugarcoats nothing.
4. “Paava Kadhaigal” (2020)
“Paava Kadhaigal” (Sinful Tales) is a Tamil anthology drama web series consisting of four episodes directed by Sudha Kongara, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Vetrimaaran, and Vignesh Shivan. Through four unique stories, the film explores how pride, honor, and sin influence complex relationships of love. It stars indie darling Kalki Koechlin. The stories are heart-wrenching and lay bare the truth of some of society’s worst sins. So, this show comes with plenty of trigger warnings, including sexual violence and caste killings.
5. :Suzhal: The Vortex” (2022)
“Suzhal: The Vortex” tells the story of the disappearance of a young girl from a small town in Tamil Nadu. What begins as a mere missing-person investigative drama, soon threatens to tear apart the town and its delicate social fabric. With a fast-paced, nail-biting screenplay and some of the finest actors, the series is a promising weekend watch.
The 8-episode Tamil original series is widely translated, with the highest number of dubs / subtitles in foreign languages for a Prime Video India original show.