The expletives are not muted, the sex scenes unrestrained with moaning, groaning, the work...and the violence is gory—brains blown off by a shotgun, blood squirting out of a neck slashed with a razor. And lording over all these is the devious and ruthless Akhandanand ‘Kaleen Bhaiya’ Tripathi, played by national award winning actor Pankaj Tripathi in Amazon Prime’s Mirzapur, a gangster web series set in the badlands of Uttar Pradesh. Mirzapur is a gripping tale despite the excessive violence and is all set for the second season, just like Sacred Games, the first hugely popular fare from the growing over-the-top (OTT) platform in India.
But the story of the growing popularity of web series in India also has a sub-plot concerning the Indian entertainment industry—it is now the launch pad for newcomers trying to find a foothold in tinsel town. Web series are what television serials were not so long ago—remember the TV series Circus that turned a certain Shah Rukh Khan to King Khan of Bollywood? The OTT platform is also the new playground for accomplished actors looking to break grounds with more challenging roles outside the two-hour-odd cinematic timeframe. These are “exciting times” for upcoming actors, as Shweta Tripathi, who plays the role of Gajagamini ‘Golu’ Gupta in Mirzapur, puts it.