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Top OTT Releases This Week: Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar, Shaitaan, The Idea of You, and Other

This week, we have a rich ott platter of grandeur, survival, black magic, journalistic nuances, unlikely romance, and abuse against women. The biggest release of all is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s grandiose Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar on Netflix, which explores the pre-partition world of tawaifs (courtesans) in Lahore, who held a special social status and made a significant contribution to India’s struggle for Independence. Originally, Bhansali was planning on making a film on the subject, but since the storyline was too elaborate, he decided to make it a series instead.

Next in line is the second season of Sonali Bendre’s show on the media industry, The Broken News. This show exposes the face of today’s biased media, which feeds on sensationalism and conveniently brushes aside the ethics of fair journalism.

In terms of post-theatrical releases, we have Mollywood’s blockbuster Manjummel Boys, which is based on a true incident when a young boy fell into a dangerous cave and was rescued by his untrained friends. We also have Ajay Devgn’s Shaitaan, in which a sinister man (played by R. Madhavan) does black magic on a young girl and threatens her family to let him take her away. Both films have enjoyed massive success and are still running theatrically.

For documentary enthusiasts, Prime Video has released a compelling documentary where a gender activist embarks on an on-foot journey across India for more than eight months to create awareness against violence and abuse inflicted on women.

There is something for Hollywood fanatics as well. Academy Award winner Anne Hathaway is romancing a young musician in Prime Video’s latest original movie, The Idea of You.

List of Top OTT Releases This Week

With that, here are the top OTT releases we recommend this week. Happy binge-watching!

Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar

When: Now Streaming

Where: Netflix

Heeramandi takes viewers to the pre-independence red light area of Lahore, where tawaifs (courtesans) were no less than queens, and all the big shots of the city, such as nawabs, were sent to the area to learn etiquette and mannerisms from them.

The series will introduce you to tawaifs of all sorts – seductive, rebel, heartbroken, poetic, emotionally twisted, jealous, insensitive, patriotic, and more – with each one having a tragic story of her own. A special focus has been given to tawaifs’ often ignored role in India’s struggle for Independence.

Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali – who is helming a web series for the first time – has managed to keep his signature style of filmmaking intact with lavish sets boasting grandeur and luxury.

The ensemble cast includes Manisha Koirala, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sonakshi Sinha, Sanjeeda Sheikh, Sharmin Segal, Taha Shah Badussha, Shekhar Suman, Adhyayan Suman, Fardeen Khan, Jason Shah, and Indresh Malik. Besides the numerous protagonists, the series offers plenty of side character arcs.

Shaitaan

When: May 4, 2024

Where: Netflix

The Rishis are a small and happy family of four: Kabir, Jyoti, Jahnvi, and Dhruv. They are off to a vacation at their farmhouse in a remote hill station when a mysterious man named Vanraj enters their lives, bringing along misfortune.

He offers Jahnvi a black-magic-infused ladoo to hypnotise her, after which the poor girl starts following Vanraj’s instructions like a puppet. The shrewd man demands the family give her away to him, or else he’ll keep commanding Jahnvi to perform strange, weird, and dangerous actions. The rest of the film chronicles the Rishis’ desperate efforts to save her.

The eerie film offers plenty of scares and is the Hindi remake of the 2023 Gujarati horror film Vash. Shaitaan enjoyed a decent response at the box office and is still running in some theatres.

The Broken News Season 2

When: Now Streaming

Where: Zee5

For those of you who haven’t watched the first season, The Broken News focuses on two rival news channels – one that believes in fair journalistic practices and the other nationalist channel where sensationalism and political influence make the day. In the previous season, Ameena Qureshi (Sonali Bendre) loses her cool when her protege is thrown into an anti-national corner and decides to tread the path of TRP-obsessed journalists. This season sees Qureshi pushed to her limits and carefully portrays a wronged person’s various emotional and psychological layers. On the contrary, (Jaideep Ahlawat’s character from the nationalist channel begins to realise the monstrous impact of his deeds. The eight-part series is an adaptation of the BBC series Press and can be streamed in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.

The Idea of You

When: Now Streaming

Where: Prime Video

Anne Hathaway plays a 40-year-old single mother and an art mogul who begins an unexpected romance with Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine), the 24-year-old lead singer of a musical band – to whose performance she was chaperoning her teenage daughter. Not only does this unlikely couple challenge the social conventions of love, but it also explores their polar opposite worlds. The heart-warming rom-com is an adaptation of Robinne Lee’s 2017 novel of the same name. Michael Showalter directs.

WOMB (Woman Of My Billion)

When: Now Streaming

Where: Prime Video

Gender rights activist Srishti Bakshi created headlines in 2018 when she decided to walk on a 3,800-kilometre from Kanyakumari to Srinagar, to create awareness about violence against women in India. Along the way, she spoke to students and community groups about what it means to be a woman in India. Produced by Emmy-award-winning Apporva Bakshi and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, the documentary also includes testimonials from three survivors. Ajitesh Sharma directs.

Manjummel Boys

When: Now Streaming

Where: Hotstar

Chidambaram’s Manjummel Boys made quite a stride in the cinema world by becoming the highest-grossing Malayalam film ever, surpassing the record earlier set by 2018. The super-hit film revolves around a bunch of friends from an arts club in Kochi who leave on a trip to Kodaikanal during the Onam vacation. Their vacation comes to an alarming halt when one of the friends falls into a dangerous ravine, leaving everyone panicked. How the boy manages to save their friend, surrounded by nothingness, forms the crux of the story. It deftly explores multiple layers of friendship through the lens of a survival thriller. Manjummel Boys is based on a true incident from 2006 when a boy similarly fell into the Guna Caves and was bravely rescued by his friend.

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