Netflix India is making a huge push in original Hindi shows, regional content, and competing fiercely with Amazon, Alt Balaji and Zee Five on who can make the best Indian web series.
With budgets that seem to be infinite, most major streaming platforms are hungry for India’s attention.
What are the best Indian shows on Netflix India in 2019? In no particular order:
- Sacred Games Season 1
- Sacred Games Season 2
- Delhi Crime
- Selection Day
- Bard of Blood
- Little Things Season Two and Three
- Lust Stories
- Girls Hostel
- and many more below as Netflix is now acquiring TVF and other studio’s content…
Thanks to cheap internet, Jio, free time and increasing consumer preferences to sit and home and order in, the Indian middle-class economy is hungry for original binge-worthy content.
They want Indian stories a bit further from the censor board and not the stuff they’ve seen on traditional mediums like TV or Film, but also a bit more polished than what’s on YouTube.
Who needs Netflix and Chill when you can Netflix, Swiggy, Instagram and then do it all over again tomorrow?
From comedy to drama, true crime to thrillers, Netflix’s Indian shows are crowding the home screen and we thought it’d be best to put together a list of the best Indian shows on Netflix.
Not every show will be for everyone, and the only thing worse than watching a show where nudity comes on is watching an INDIAN show where nudity comes on, so check below for the detailed pros, cons, and recommendations for each show.
The beauty of a lot of these shows is that they’re also available in Tamil, Kannada, Bengali, English and various other regional languages.
Best Indian Original Shows on Netflix India
1. Sacred Games Season 1
One of the best thriller series on Netflix is arguably their flagship Indian show. You can totally binge on this despite its heavy subject material.
Varun Grover has been a name most of us in stand up comedy world have known for years, and he doesn’t shy away from talking about things that are uncomfortable and clever.
I knew when he wrote this show it was going to be some next-level writing.
Combined with Anurag Kayshap, Saif Ali Khan, revered actors Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Pankaj Triptahi who often steals the show…and platform favorite Radhika Apte…the cast is awesome.
Complimented by Kubbra Sait (who was on my podcast here)…it’s no wonder everything lined up to deliver a high budget, highly entertaining and highest-rated show for the platform.
2. Sacred Games Season 2
Kalki Koechlin, Amruta_Subhash and a few other big-name actors joined for the second season which was slightly less well-received than the first season but expectations were high and this season is honestly just as good.
Ignore the reviews comparing it to the first season, the show is popular both within India and with the NRI crowd abroad which is a commendable feat to be relatable to all parties.
The show’s characters also remind me of Harshita Gaur from Mirzapur, but it’s more or less just based on shooting, storytelling, and genre.
3. Delhi Crime
My wife and I watched this show in literally two days.
Despite the horrific subject material which is even sadder because of its true basis, the tone of the show is gripping from the start.
The characters are also well defined, even the young daughter who can be annoying at times is well thought out from all aspects of the family.
It covers the horrific case, the government corruption, has a very bleak no soundtrack tone sometimes and sheds light on society, politics, family and a lot of the disparities we see daily in India but often overlook until times of crisis.
I personally think it’s one of the best Indian original Netflix series.
Starring Shefali Shah, Rasika Duga (loved you in Humorously Yours with Vipul Goyal)l, Adil Hussain, Rajesh Tailang all giving excellent performances, the show is top-notch and has the ratings and reviews to boot.
The seven episodes will go by in a flash, but we warned, probably not a family binge and it’s drama and it’s best. So don’t expect to be in the best mood afterward. Truth is a bitter pill to swallow, right?
Indian shows, much like Indian commercials sometimes all start to look the same after a while. The couple on the sofa, on a tablet, trying to order something and then the obvious solution.
So I always appreciate when sometime tries to do something different and off the cuff, and although the story can feel a bit drawn out sometimes, definitely give Leila a watch.
Huma Qureshi does a nice job as the lead and the Netflix Original also stars Siddharth, Seema Biswas, Rahul Khanna, Sanjay Suri, Arif Zakaria, Ashwath Bhatt and Anupam Bhattacharya.
If you enjoyed Sacred Games and want something set in the future in a dystopian setting much like Children of Men, this show is definitely next on your list.
Ignore the reviews, the critics for once have it right with this show and you will enjoy it. Bingeable in two days or less depending on how much time you have.
Regarding the online trolling this show is getting…unfortunately people forget that entertainment and art is supposed to ask questions.
While the show has certain messages, you can see Hindu folks super sensitive thinking they’re being attacked and dumping negative reviews on IMDB and YouTube.
We have shows showing extreme Christians, Muslims, violent sexual crimes, humor, satire, horror, monsters and pretty much any other group…can people relax and just appreciate art for what it is? And also not be so hypocritical?
They’re good and bad folks in every lot.
Netflix India can be funny sometimes, taking after the parent companies social media with classy humor and good taste. And they even tweeted that yes, Radhika Apte is in yet another series. This streaming miniseries, however, is anything but funny.
The Indian horror is definitely worth a watch and has a few big cares and delivers a better than Typewriter in my opinion. I mean compare the trailers…which one scares you out of your seat? Which one feels more like a Hollywood leap for Indian cinema?
It’s from a team similar to Insidious and Get Out and shows that India is ready for real talent and real films, not just the nepotism sort of stuff we see from Karan Johar and those love stories.
They have a place and a form in pop culture, but millennials and elder folks alike are appreciating modern storytelling that is edge of your seat fun.
Also starring, Manav Kaul, Ratnabali Bhattacharjee, Mahesh Balraj ,S. M. Zaheer it’s a great show you won’t expect all parents to like but perfect for an evening of Netflix and Chill.
Always fun for the new couple to enjoy the small 3 episode run time.
6. Selection Day
Similar in genre to Amazon’s Inside Edge with youngster Mohammad Samad, Yash Dholye, Karanvir Malhotra, Parul Gulati, the ever graceful Ratna Pathak Shah and more, the series is about India’s favorite obsession, cricket.
I mean India loves cricket so much it’s probably the one thing with higher rankings than Bollywood.
This show is probably better if you’re younger as you’ll relate to the protagonist and also has a similar story vibe to Dangal of a kid trying to match his overzealous parents.
It’s not a show you’ll remember for years but if you’re looking for something to play with the family and cousins over, you can’t beat this.
Plus its cricket galore!
This show seems to be filmed with a bit of Haunting of Hill House in mind, but seems to be a thriller more than straight horror.
Either way, there was news about people giving up after episode 1 because it was too scary, but I enjoyed it despite the mixed reviews and if you’ve seen the other on this list go ahead and give it a binge.
Starring Purab Kohli, Palomi Ghosh, Jisshu Sengupta, Sameer Kochhar, Aarna Sharma, Bijou Thaangjam, Mikhail Gandhi, Palash Kamble and. Aaryansh Malviya
8. Bard of Blood
Emraan Hashmi is no stranger to the big screen and Sobhita Dhulipala is a household name after Zoya Akthar’s Made in Heaven.
This show promises to be exciting as it explores espionage and action which usually gets eaten up by audiences these days.
Unfortunately, the show will have comparisons to a buddy of mine Suman Kumar’s show Family Man on Amazon Prime (which is also getting great reviews) but let’s see how things shape up. It’s out in a few days and I’ll update it here.
9. Little Things
After getting her start in Girl in the City, Mithila Palkar is a star after this show pushed her over the top.
She more recently starred in the major Netflix movie Chopsticks.
Update: Season 3 of Little Things just announced. (see Trailer below).
Little Things is a fun take that builds small scenes (e.g. Little Things) into big long drawn out monologues much like you see in Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight.
It’s a light-hearted yet serious twist on common Bollywood tropes and sometimes fresh, sometimes drawn out but for some reason highly entertaining.
Even when you want to shout at the screen or complain about the characters, you still don’t change the channel.
I’m sure the viewers will learn towards the more female fanbase, but overall a fun show and I was surprised.
10. Lust Stories
Lust Stories is an awesome show that shows 4 disconnected stories that are totally believable. Zoya Akthar is great at capturing Indian society in a serious yet humorous way and this is no different.
Built off of the success of 2013’s Bombay Talkies (you’ll definitely binge on that after this), the show is meant to be watched in any order.
Pretty sexual undertones but done tastefully and intelligently, and starring folks like Radhika Apte, Bhumi Pednekar, Kiara Advani, Manisha Koirala, Vicky Kaushal (who’s also having a great run, Neil Bhoopalam, Neha Dhupia, Sanjay Kapoor and Akash Thosar.
It’s no secret why Netflix India swiped yes on this show immediately and made it an original.
11. Girls Hostel
This 2018 Girliyapa Original show about four girls in dental school doesn’t try to be anything aside from what it is, a fun sweet comedy show about girls trying to get their medical credentials in a light hearted way.
You will really enjoy the characters and their nuances, led by Srishti Shrivastava. The only problem during its release was that the episodes took a month to release each time.
Originally from the Girliyapa YouTube channel and TVF Play, however now I see the show on Netflix so I”m assuming TVF is selling rights to Netflix India to stream a lot of their unique content.
You’ll Love It If: You want a nice relatable show about girls in dental school and living in a hostel with four other fun gals, each from different aspects of society.
You’ll Hate It If: You’re an alpha male who doesn’t care for the story, because if you give it time it has witty dialogues and fun characters. Or if you’re old you might not enjoy it as the problems may seem trivial.
Starring Parul Gulati, Simran Natekar and Srishti Shrivastava.
12. Engineering Girls
The 2018 offering from TVF’s Timeliner brand that shows them scaling with yet another show about academia and the middle class struggle, this time from an all female perspective. Now on Netflix as of October 2019.
You get to follow along with three girls in Engineering college (unlike Dental school which is girls hostel above) and see what they have to deal with.
Plot is a bit thin but the youth LOVES this show with over 11M views just on the first episode! Curious to see what Netflix does with this show and these numbers are probably why it was acquired in the first place.
Other users who reviewed it say it’s a simple girlish series while others think it’s a female rip off of 3-idiots.
Either way it’s a cute web series TVF probably had some easy money or brand endorsement to make and quickly rushed it out. Definitely not one of the great TVF series but a nice free show to enjoy for the youth, and if you’re a girl in Engineering, I know the struggle of trying to cater content for you.
CAST: Barkha Singh, Sejal Kumar and Kritika Avasthi.
As Netflix continues to dump more money into India and Pakistan and South Asian cinema in 2019 and beyond, there are a host of shows, movies, comedy specials on more all fighting for attention on the streaming platform.
We’re also seeing Amazon invest heavy in Prime Video and they have some amazing shows in the pipeline as well.
It’s an exciting time for Indian entertainment and cinema since for the first time, the box office is not the only benchmark and the audiences are truly speaking.
What are your favorite shows on Netflix India?
Sanjay Manaktala is a stand up comedian and digital content creator who runs his own YouTube channel, podcast and the SanjayComedy.com blog about inspiring creative India for a life after engineering.