Web series review: ‘Homecoming’ is gripping, ‘Zabaan Sambhal Ke’ dull and drab

Netflix and Amazon Prime are now set to enthrall their viewers with their new star studded shows like ‘Homecoming’, targeting urban Indians

Image courtesy (social media)
Image courtesy (social media)

Biswadeep Ghosh

It was only recently that filmmaker Raj Kumar Hirani’s ‘Sanju’ had impressed most critics and attracted viewers to the theatres nationwide. A distilled version of actor Sanjay Dutt’s life, Sanju is one of the trending films in Netflix’s list of releases. If you have skipped or missed the biopic, in other words, you can watch it on a lazy weekend.

On-demand video services have been targeting the urban Indian viewer. Amazon Prime Video hopes to find new subscribers with its psychological drama series Homecoming starring Julia Roberts.

A well-knit suspense drama directed by the talented Sam Esmail, Homecoming is ideal for binge-watching if one is a fan of the mystery genre. The narrative, which moves backwards and forwards in time, shows Roberts as Heidi Bergman, a caseworker in a rehabilitation facility who helps military veterans adjust to civilian life in the present.

In the future, Heidi has left the facility. She is working as a waitress in a diner and lives with her mother. When an FBI investigator inquires about her past, she doesn't seem to know what she should be saying. Herein lies a mystery, which keeps the viewer interested.

Roberts is remarkably restrained in the central role, and so are a few others in significant supporting roles. Do watch out for Sissy Spacek as her mother and Dermot Mulroney who plays her friend. Helmed by a confident director, Homecoming will disappoint nobody, even if the viewer is not a die hard Julia Roberts fan.

Roberts is remarkably restrained in the central role, and so are a few others in significant supporting roles. Do watch out for Sissy Spacek as her mother and Dermot Mulroney who plays her friend. Helmed by a confident director, ‘Homecoming’ will disappoint nobody, even if the viewer is not a diehard Julia Roberts fan.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a reboot of the popular 1990s sitcom ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’, has impressed many viewers. Released on Netflix, the series stars the talented Kiernan Shipka in the title role of Sabrina Spellman.

Half-mortal, half-witch, Sabrina had famously originated in the pages of Archie comics. A resident of Greendale, she lives with her aunts Zelda and Hilda in the edgy web series. The teenager is a few days away from her 16th birthday in the coming-of-age tale. Sabrina must attempt to find a balance between preserving her human self while she undergoes dark baptism that will mutate the course of her future.

Superb cinematography is a major reason why the series is so watchable. Regrettably, however, the performances aren’t uniformly good. Two actors who stand out in the crowd are Michelle Gomez as Mrs Wardwell, Sabrina’s teacher, and Shipka in the title role.

The series is not a scary spook-fest of the kind that will freeze you on your seats. The plot, which has predictable tropes like hallucinations and apparitions, is punctuated with light moments that will make the viewer smile.

ALTBalaji has released two new series recently. One of them titled The Great Indian Dysfunctional Family can be expected to attract addicts of family dramas. The series has been manufactured in the Balaji factory, but it is far more sophisticated than the cheesy soap operas one usually associates with the production house.

A couple of actors have delivered standout performances. One of them is Kay Kay as a physically challenged retired army man, and the other, Swaroop Sampat as the eldest one in the family. On the negative side, the plot has way too many twists, which gets occasionally tiresome.

While The Great Indian Dysfunctional Family has its merits, it is impossible to understand why ALTBalaji chose to produce a pathetic remake of the 1990s classic Zabaan Sambhal Ke. Each actor seems uninspired, apart from Sumeet Raghavan who is occasionally tolerable as the Hindi instructor teaching a motley group of students. The liberal use of double entendre is one of the dubious hallmarks of the script, which has nothing in common with the original barring the basic idea.

Amazon Prime Video has released a few interesting shows, among them Lethal Weapon, which began its run in 2016. The TV adaptation of the popular 90s film franchise, the buddy-cop drama series has been widely popular since its release. The third season stars Seann William Scott and Damon Wayans Scott as two street-smart cops in the Los Angeles Police Department. Scott is a newcomer to the show, having replaced Clayne Crawford. The significant change in the star cast notwithstanding, the show continues to be a thrill pill for its followers the world over.

Netflix has been adding some fine shows to its list in recent times. Bodyguard, which stars Richard Madden, became a blockbuster hit after it premiered on BBC One in the United Kingdom. Now, it is available on Netflix. After watching it, all one can say is: what a gripping show.

The plot is set in London. British military veteran David Budd has experienced war first-hand in the Middle East and returned to England. Estranged from his wife, he is working as a protection officer in the London Metropolitan Police Service. Incidentally, his wife’s character is played by Sophie Rundle, who can be seen in an important role in ‘Peaky Blinders’, a fascinating crime drama series.

It is after Budd gets an assignment that the story of his life takes a new turn. He is asked to protect a controversial lady politician. A gripping story marked by the fantastic onscreen chemistry between the two leads unfolds thereafter.

The series that packages many unforgettable moments promises to be a long distance runner on TV and also as an online series. Make time and watch it.

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