Arré Recommends: Make Use of the Lockdown and Binge-Watch These Hidden Gems

Pop Culture

Arré Recommends: Make Use of the Lockdown and Binge-Watch These Hidden Gems

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Remember when staying in used to be a personal choice and not a national disaster response? These last two months feel like they’ve spread into decades and I’ve, for instance, never been in such a hurry to go back to living a life of routine. But as it turns out, the shelf-life of a virus doesn’t operate according to my personal whims. So while going out and travelling to different places might still be in a future that is currently out of reach, the varied universes in movies, shows, books are still available to us. In the past few weeks, I’ve found it immensely calming to start a new show or watching a movie that I’d forgotten about, if only as a reminder that we can still enter a life outside our own rooms.

So if there’s a point during this weekend or the coming week when you feel like you could do with a distraction, here’s a list of five things you can stream. It’s a mixed bag of options: there’s a documentary, an Indian debut, two old and new shows, and a Bollywood film that I didn’t think I’d like revisiting so much. Dive in!

  1. Gamak Ghar: The culture of stream-ification guarantees that movies come to us in the comfort of our own rooms in the same way that we onced used to go to them. One of the upsides of having a catalogue of film universes on demand means that there’s now a space and audience for movies that would have otherwise never been released in theatres. Like Achal Mishra’s impressive debut, Gamak Ghar.

Set in a Bihar village, every frame of the Maithili-language drama feels steeped in memory and yearning, capturing the ebbs and flow of an ancestral home over three decades, opening in 1998, moving on to 2010, and ending in 2019. The house here is both the backdrop of the film and its central protagonist – staying put even as the family it houses moves out and eventually outgrows it. At a time when a global pandemic has us retreating indoors, either far away from our families or busy negotiating what spaces mean to us, it’s a perfect time to watch Gamak Ghar, a gentle reminder of the homes that make a family.

Gamak Ghar is streaming on Mubi India

2. Homecoming: Two years ago, the Sam Esmail-directed Homecoming, an excellent psychological series adapted from an equally arresting podcast, vanished from popular conversation as quietly as it arrived. For a show that featured a Julia Roberts performance for the ages, and displayed a fierce ambition, to be forgotten so quickly was definitely a travesty but it wasn’t entirely a surprise. There were after all, just too many things to watch and too little time, which meant that sometimes shows that should make headlines end up flowing under the radar.

Today, two years later, there’s a role- reversal: Quarantine has brought with it an abundance of time. If anything, this is the time to revisit the array of underseen shows. The first season of Homecoming which detailed a military conspiracy to brainwash soldiers of their traumatic experiences on the field, makes for a fitting contender. The best part? You can binge the entire thing in under five hours. And if you’re still interested, a second season with an all-new cast (Janelle Monae fills in Robert’s shoes), director, and storyline just dropped.

Both seasons of Homecoming are streaming on Amazon Prime Video

In the past few weeks, I’ve found it immensely calming to start a new show or watching a movie.

3. Untouchable: If the #MeToo movement was a response to the excesses that powerful men for away with for a lifetime, then it wouldn’t be inaccurate to consider films documenting #MeToo as a valuable record of that injustice. Especially when the protagonist in question is Harvey Weinstein, the man who once deemed himself “untouchable” from consequences. Armed with interviews from a host of his accusers, Ursula MacFarlene’s documentary, that comes two months after Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison, draws out in exact terms what it means to be held hostage by a sexual predator. What makes Untouchable an essential watch is that besides being a potent, meticulous takedown of Weinstein, it is also a no-holds-barred indictment of a culture that enabled him for years.

Untouchable is streaming on Netflix

4. Run: HBO’s Run is at its core, a show about something that everyone has thought of doing at least once: leaving behind their practical, boring existence and making a dash for a new life, bursting with spontaneity and adventure. It is essentially an adrenaline rush condensed into seven episodes. That this “run-com” is razor-sharp and funny is as much an icing on the cake as is the fact that Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge serves as its executive producer and the show is created by her best friend and frequent collaborator Vicky Jones. Merrit Wever (Unbelievable, Marriage Story) and Domhnall Gleeson play former college lovers who once made a pact 17 years ago to drop everything and travel across America with each other if one of them texted the other the magic word: Run. It gets even better. The final episode drops on Monday, so you have the weekend to catch up on all six episodes.

Run is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar

5. Meri Pyaari Bindu: With every passing day, it feels as if the period in time when it might be safe enough to watch a movie at a theatre that is packed to capacity grows more and more distant. Thankfully, there’s one film to be excited about: Shoojit Sircar’s Gulabo Sitabo premieres online next month and brings together Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurranna, two actors who’ve previously given memorable performances in a Sircar film. In fact, it made me think of another Ayushmamn Khurrana outing that strayed from convention: Akshay Roy’s Meri Pyaari Bindu.

Structured as an anti-rom-com, Meri Pyaari Bindu is told from the perspective of Abhimanyu Roy (Khurrana), a writer who goes through the entire film fictionalising his first love-story to afford himself the happy ending that real life snatched away from him. The question then is: How far-off is his version from the actual events? For a film backed by Yash Raj Productions, Meri Pyaari Bindu is admiringly rebellious although not all of its ideas of romantic projection translate on-screen, due in part to the miscasting of Parineeti Chopra as the object of his affection. Yet, just like love, revisiting the film in hindsight makes its imperfections look more like an experiment.

Meri Pyaari Bindu is streaming on Amazon Prime Video