There may be a lot of anxiety in the air, we can all still find some relief by escaping for some time into a few pre-pandemic comedies. Here is our pick of some of the most binge-worthy shows.
The pivotal character of Jagdeep Chadda (played by Mukul Chadda) in this Hotstar original will make you cringe, laugh out aloud and sway your head in disbelief as he awkwardly tries to break the ice with his juniors, guffaws at his own jokes and generally fails to read the general mood in the dysfunctional office. Although, the sitcom draws inspiration from the original BBC series of the same name and also the American remake, the ‘boss’ played by Mukul Chadda has unmistakably Indian undertones and his mannerisms and body language remind viewers of many similar characters they may have encountered in their families, offices or neighbourhoods. This man is delightfully unaware of his own lack of wit and keeps trying hilariously to cheer his team made up of morose and uninspired employees. This office will offer a great escape if you are looking for some soothing, rib-tickling binge watching.
Bhaag Beanie Bhaag
One of the few comedies led by a woman, this Netflix original stars the hugely underrated Swara Bhaskar who plays an aspiring, stand-up comic, caught between personal and professional problems. Swara nails the portrayal of a young woman who is tired of living up to everyone’s expectations and wants to, for once, break free from a dead end job, looming domesticity, a relationship that can offer her security but not freedom. Her parents played by veterans Mona Ambegaonkar and Girish Kulkarni add another engaging layer of comedy to the proceedings. Watch this show to cheer a strong, funny and endearingly flawed heroine who wins the day every time with her honesty even if she can’t always make people laugh as much as she would like to.
Sarabhai vs Sarabhai
Miss the good-old-days when comedy was maybe not edgy but simply made people happy with a wholesome plot, great writing and great performances? Then relive some golden nostalgia with a series that gave a refreshing new twist to the jaded ‘saas bahu’ formula by pitting a class-conscious, sarcastic mother-in-law against a down-to-earth and spunky daughter-in-law. The series is a masterful comedy of manners and its bunch of idiosyncratic characters will offer hours of family-friendly entertainment and will leave you refreshed and energised. Watch it on Hotstar and enjoy the comic timing of class acts Satish Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, Sumeet Raghavan, Rupali Ganguly, and Rajesh Kumar.
Need a break from urban comedies? Then watch ‘Gullak’, the modern equivalent of ‘Hum Log’. This series by The Viral Fever (streaming on SonyLIV), brings alive the everyday issues, conflicts, joys and sorrows of a middle-class family in a small town without losing its sense of perspective or humour. The Mishras are not as refined as the Sarabhais but this family feels more identifiable because its characters look and sound like they have been plucked out of a familiar neighbourhood. They struggle through unemployment, financial tensions, strained relationships and as a family, seem to be falling apart but are still close-knit. This is a slice of life series that will bring a smile to your face on even a hard day.
One of the most loved originals on Amazon Prime Video, Pushpavalli is remarkable for many reasons. To start with, it has been created by Sumukhi Suresh who was once called the Tina Fey of India by a critic. With great insight, she also plays the protagonist, an obsessive young woman who will stop at nothing to win the man she believes herself to be in love with. Along the way, we also learn how so many women in India are raised to feel unworthy even though not all of them seek love through twisted means like our heroine. This is dark humour but it also shows us how many boxes women have to tick before they can see themselves as worthy of love. Pushpavalli is a woman who chooses to not tick these boxes and takes a dangerous route to fulfilment that will amuse as well as shock you.