Tag Archives: Hindi TV Shows on Netflix

TV Review: Ghoul (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Watch Ghoul on Netflix

Ghoul pulls no punches in its depiction of the dangers of state-sanctioned religious intolerance. The show’s monsters are scary, but not as terrifying as the vision of the future presented by writer-director Patrick Graham.

The miniseries comprises three episodes, each with a runtime between 40-45 minutes (excluding closing credits). In all, Ghoul is about as long as a feature film. I appreciated the built-in breaks, which occur at logical points in the plot. This is a perfect kind of storytelling format for a streaming video platform, and I won’t be surprised to see it become more common as filmmakers adapt to changing audience viewing habits.

Graham keeps the scares to a minimum in the first episode: “Out of the Smokeless Fire,” establishing a world where every day is a nightmare for those on the wrong side of new societal divisions. A fascist Indian government cracks down on homegrown terrorism by outlawing certain religious texts and practices, burning books and whisking away citizens believed to harbor anti-nationalist sentiments for “re-education.” The only people targeted in crackdowns are Muslims, although the show doesn’t specifically identify the government as Hindu nationalist.

Naive patriotism inspires Nida Rahim (Radhika Apte) to enlist in the military, despite being the daughter of an Islamic scholar (played by S.M. Zaheer). She’s convinced that the government’s harsh tactics truly are about national security and not religious oppression, as her father believes — so much so that she turns in her own father for re-education. Soon after, she’s posted at a secret government prison to aid the interrogation of notorious terrorist Ali Saeed (Mahesh Balraj), who is captured in the show’s opening, half-dead and surrounded by the corpses of his followers. But why would the military assign Nida, a junior interrogator, to such a high-profile case?

The last two episodes draw from any number of horror films in which the characters are trapped in a remote location with a monster, their terror turning them against one another when their survival depends on them working together. Few of the soldiers and prisoners get any meaningful character development other than Colonel Sunil Dacunha (Manav Kaul), whose idea it was to bring Nida in, and Lieutenant Laxmi Das (Ratnabali Bhattacharjee), Dacunha’s skeptical second-in-command.

Although the relative anonymity of the other soldiers signals their expendability, it also highlight’s the shows message that any agent of a fascist government is liable for its crimes. Not every soldier in Dacunha’s prison personally tortured prisoners, but all of them knew about it and did nothing to stop it. The jail’s cremation room is a stark visualization of the parallels to Nazism present throughout Graham’s screenplay.

When Ghoul‘s namesake creature finally appears, the story becomes quite scary, playing on the fears of those within the prison. Several of the soldiers, including Dacunha, are haunted by the way engaging in torture has warped their sense of morality — not enough to stop torturing people, unfortunately — allowing the monster to play on their guilt. The scares in Ghoul are more psychological than surprise driven, and there’s a considerable amount of blood.

Nida is plagued by her own guilt, and she has no allies in her new surroundings. Apte is compelling in the lead role, showing both Nida’s grit and vulnerability. Bravely, the series doesn’t downplay her commitment to the totalitarian government. She’s willing to follow orders until the moment she’s absolutely convinced that she’s been duped. Nor does Ghoul try to make Dacunha more sympathetic than he should be. Kaul depicts Dacunha as conflicted, but unquestionably a bad person. Ghoul knows which way its moral compass points, and it’s not afraid to show it.

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Streaming Video News: September 4, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with some titles added over the Labor Day holiday weekend. Besides the 2018 TV series Yeh Meri Family, all of them are Hindi films from the last year that didn’t release in US theaters, including director Q’s Garbage, the marital drama Love and Shukla, director Onir’s Kuchh Bheega Alfaaz, Nasseruddin Shah’s family flick Hope Aur Hum, and the romance Once Again, starring Shefali Shah and Neeraj Kabi.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the addition of last month’s Tamil theatrical release Ghajinikanth, along with a few other Marathi, Bengali, and Telugu titles. For everything else new on Prime and Netflix, check Instant Watcher.

Streaming Video News: July 6, 2016

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with one exciting new addition to the catalog. The Netflix original series Sacred Games — starring Saif Ali Khan, Radhika Apte, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap — is now available for streaming. People who got an advanced look at the series love it, so I’m stoked to check it out.

Amazon is going all out for Prime Day in India. In addition to 36 hours of shopping deals, they’ve spread the Prime debuts of several 2018 theatrical releases out over an entire week. Streaming rights are country specific, so these debut dates might not apply to the US, but these are the titles to watch for next week:

Amazon Prime Video India’s Twitter account posted a Prime Day promo video featuring a bunch of Bollywood actors who star in movies available on the service, such as Varun Dhawan (October) and Tabu and Manoj Bajpayee (Missing). Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, and other stars of Race 3 also appear in the video. Could it be added to the service as part of Prime Day, too? We’ll have to wait and see.

Streaming Video News: June 4, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the addition of two movies that released in theaters earlier this year, each starring a stellar lead actress. The thriller Missing — starring Tabu and Manoj Bajpayee — is now available for streaming, which is cool since it only released theatrically in India, not in the US. Rani Mukerji’s Hichki is also now available (and well worth watching). Thanks to Gaurav Arora for giving me the heads up about Hichki!

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with a newly announced expiration date. You’ve got until July 3, 2018, to catch all thirteen episodes of the 2015 TV series Adrishya. This is part of the purging of shows produced by the TV channel Epic, which were only under contract to air on Netflix for two years. Six shows just expired on June 1, and we can expect to see Ekaant and Siyaasat hit bricks in September.

Streaming Video News: June 2, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the addition of some new TV shows and comedy specials. Besides the Hindi series Pushpavalli and Shaitaan Haveli, the Amazon exclusive drama Gangstars premiered in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. The new comedy specials feature comedians Kautuk Srivastava, Nishant Tanwar, and Rahul Subramanian.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with a few additions to the catalog. B.A. Pass 2, the Marathi film Natsamrat: Asa Nat Hone Nahi, and the TV series Gabru: Hip Hop Revolution are all now available for streaming. For everything else new to Netflix and Prime — Bollywood or not — check Instant Watcher.

The most interesting addition to the world of streaming video this week is the debut of Saif Ali Khan’s black comedy Kaalakaandi on Hotstar. If you haven’t taken advantage of their free week trial, this might be a good time to do so.

Streaming Video News: May 15, 2017

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with five new additions to the catalog. Three early ’90s Shah Rukh Khan movies — Chamatkar, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, and Ram Jaane — are now available for streaming, as is the TV series Buddha and the Bollywood biography series Classic Legends, hosted by Javed Akhtar. For everything else new on Netflix (Bollywood or not), check Instant Watcher.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon’s Heera channel with one new addition: 2016’s Poorna, a biopic about a 13-year-old girl who climbed Mt. Everest, directed by Rahul Bose. Click here to try Heera free.

Streaming Video News: September 24, 2016

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with one new addition to the catalog. 1920 London is now available for streaming, following a brief theatrical run back in May. If you need to catch up on the first film in the horror series, 1920 is available for free on Amazon Prime.

In other Netflix news, three Indian TV series were recently added to the service: Ekaant, Mumbai Railway, and Siyaasat. Three other TV series — Adaalat, C.I.D., and Maharana Pratap — will expire from the service on October 15, exactly one year after they were added.

For everything else new on Netflix, check Instant Watcher.

Streaming Video News: June 2, 2016

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with several more additions to the collection. Yesterday’s catalog update also included the addition of six Hindi television series, both fiction and non-fiction. Thanks to Instant Watcher for alerting me to the newly added shows, listed below with genres in parenthesis:

In other Netflix news, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is set to expire on June 8. The movie is 90% great, but the bad 10% is right at the very end.

Streaming Video News: December 18, 2015

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with one new addition to the catalog. The 2012 crime epic Gangs of Wasseypur is now available for streaming. When the five-hour-plus film originally released in theaters, it was split into two parts. Netflix has taken that approach further, breaking the movie into eight episodes of approximately 40-minutes each. Netflix even classifies Gangs of Wasseypur as a TV show instead of a film.

I’m intrigued by this approach, as I think it could really help to make the movie more accessible. The plot is organized in a way that doesn’t suit an even split in the middle, so breaking it into smaller chapters should help maintain narrative cohesion. Psychologically, it also seems (at least to me) less daunting to commit to watching eight short episodes of a show than one five-hour film. Without having seen the episodic version, it sounds like a great idea.

For everything else new on Netflix, check out Instant Watcher.

Streaming Video News: October 15, 2015

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with some new additions to the catalog. 2014’s Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania is now available for streaming. I thought it was really cute.

The big news is that Netflix just added three Hindi-language TV shows to its catalog. The crime dramas Adaalat and C.I.D. are now available to stream, as is the historical drama Maharana Pratap. The twenty-six episodes of each of the crime dramas plus more than fifty episodes of Maharana Pratap add up to 50+ hours worth of entertainment. That helps to offset the pain of Netflix’s ever-dwindling Bollywood movie catalog.

Since we’re on the topic of TV shows, let me throw out links to two of my favorite Korean TV shows on Netflix: Boys Over Flowers and You Are Beautiful. Both shows are fantastic.

For everything else new on Netflix, check Instant Watcher.