ZeroZeroZero web series review (2020)

Where to watch: Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

ZeroZeroZero trailer

Rating: 5/5

Time: 8 episodes of 50-55 minutes each

Cast: Adriano Chiaramida, Andrea Riseborough, Dane DeHaan, Harold Torres, Gabriel Byrne

Set on three different continents with characters speaking 4-5 different languages, ZeroZeroZero is a multicultural and transnational tale of the narcotics trade. Reminiscent of famous narco thrillers, such as Narcos and Sicario, what sets ZeroZeroZero apart is its encompassing global story of the drug trade. The buyers sit in Italy, the suppliers are from Mexico and the Americans are the middlemen. As things stand, it should be a straightforward transaction. But nothing is straightforward in the drug trade. Family betrayal on the Italian side and mutiny on the Mexican side means the Americans are in trouble.

Memorable characters shine through in ZeroZeroZero. Don Minu (played by Adriano Chiaramida) is an aging mafia boss wanting to regain past glory. However, his grandson, Stefano, is not completely on board. His betrayal of his grandfather sets in motion a series of events that take place as far away as Mexico, Senegal and Morocco. This directly impacts the Lynwood family of New Orleans who are the middlemen. After the death of her father, the daughter Emma Lynwood (played by Andrea Riseborough), struggles to get the cocaine shipment from Mexico to Italy.

Why is ZeroZeroZero called ZeroZeroZero?

Based on Robert Saviano’s novel of the same name, ZeroZeroZero refers to the nickname given by drug traffickers to the purest form of cocaine. Saviano takes inspiration from the real world to tell the story of international drug trade. He is an Italian journalist whose expose of the mafia has put him on their hit list. He has been under special police protection since 2006.

Is there a season 2 of ZeroZeroZero?

No, the producers have confirmed that ZeroZeroZero was a limited series and there will not be a second season of the web series.

Nine Perfect Strangers series review

Where to watch: Streaming on Amazon Prime

Rating: 3/5

Time: 8 episodes of 45-50 minutes each

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Michael Shannon, Luke Evans, Regina Hall, Asher Keddie, Tiffany Boone, Bobby Cannavale

Nine Perfect Strangers is a drama about guests at a health and wellness retreat run by Masha (played by Nicole Kidman). A mysterious Russian woman, Masha turned her life around after a near-death experience. Now she runs Tranquillium, a wellness resort that is promising to heal the mental and emotional scars of its guests. She is picky – not everyone who applies to attend Tranquillium is able to get in.

This time round, joining her and her team is a motley group of deeply scarred strangers. There is Frances (played by Melissa McCarthy) a failed writer betrayed in love. There is Tony (played by Bobby Cannavale) a depressed and failed football star unable to connect with his family. Then there are the Marconis – father, Napoleon (played by Michael Shannon), mother Heather (played by Asher Keddie) and daughter Zoe who are grappling with the suicide of Zoe’s twin brother. Luke Evans plays Lars, an investigative journalist, who is at Tranquillium to investigate its mysterious owner and her methods. But he has demons of his own to deal with. Carmel (played by Regina Hall) is grappling with a cheating husband and low self confidence. Ben and Jessica, a couple looking to rekindle their relationship, round up the disparate group.

Nine Perfect Strangers

Masha’s healing protocol is to micro dose her guests with psilocybin (aka magic mushroom) and other assorted psychedelics. The jury is still out on the use of psychedelic substances in treating anxiety and mental health issues. However, many people have reported being helped immensely by microdosing on these substances. Will Masha’s methods help these strangers regain the balance in their lives or will the relationship dynamics implode? While the limited series is well worth a watch, in certain parts, it tends to slow down instead of keeping up the pace.

Deutschland web series review

Where to watch: Streaming on Amazon Prime

Deutschland 83 trailer

Rating: 4/5

Time: 19 episodes of 45-50 minutes each

Cast: Jonas Nay, Maria Schrader, Sylvester Groth, Carina Wiese, Sonja Gerhardt, Alexander Beyer

At the height of the Cold War, Europe was divided into two – Communists and Capitalists. The city of Berlin was literally split by the construction of a wall.

The Deutschland series (Deutschland 83, Deutschland 86 and Deutschland 89) covers the decade leading up to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the fall of communism in Europe. It provides a front row seat to the Cold War by depicting the adventures of the East German spy, Martin Rauch (played by Jonas Nay). Rauch is a reluctant spy who is forcibly recruited by his aunt Lenora (played by Maria Schrader) – a spy herself. Planted as the assistant to a West German general in NATO, Rauch passes on secrets from the West to communist East Germany.

Deutschland 83 is the first season that was released in 2015. It is set in 1983 at the height of the Cold War. The second season, Deutschland 86, came out in 2018 and reveals how cash-strapped East Germany tries to make money by embracing not-so-socialist ideas. The third season, Deutschland 89, was released in 2020. It is set in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Sadly, Amazon Prime only carries the first 2 seasons in India. However, it includes a documentary on East Germany, which is a great watch for history buffs.

Deutschland 83

While the characters in the Deutschland series are fictious, some of the key incidents are based on real-life events. This includes NATO’s Able Archer war exercise that the East Germans believed to be an actual attack. In the series, our hero, Rauch, is able to correct this misunderstanding and prevent the breakout of war in Europe. Rauch comes across as a street-smart character who consistently thinks on his feet to extricate himself from dangerous situations. Not quite James Bond, he displays the vulnerabilities of his young age and lack of experience. As he learns more of the world around him, Martin Rauch tries to maintain his moral compass.

Deutschland is an engrossing and binge-worthy show. It brings in a bit of 80s nostalgia with its music and fashion. It also touches on more serious issues such as the breakout of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. Fans of this series in India are missing closure, so let’s hope that Amazon Prime streams Deutschland 89 soon.

The Tomorrow War movie review (2021)

Where to watch: Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Trailer of The Tomorrow War

Rating: 3/5

Time: 2 hours, 18 minutes

Cast: Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, JK Simmons, Sam Richardson, Betty Gilpin

The Tomorrow War is a fun watch, although in terms of story there is nothing new here. We have a bunch of aliens, time travel and end-of-the-world scenario with one hero, Dan Forester (played by Chris Pratt) saving the world. Well, one hero and his daughter, Muri Forester (played by Yvonne Strahovski).

Although, the movie is full of cliches, it still has the thrills, special effects and fight sequences, that make it an interesting watch. The movie opens with a dramatic open sequence. We see Chris Pratt and others falling from the sky. If he had not fallen into a swimming pool, we would have lost our hero in the opening scene. We get to know that in the future, 30 years later, aliens have taken over the world and human species are faced with the threat of extinction. So, naturally, our hero has to time travel to the future to save the world.

Chris Pratt plays a character that we recognise from the Guardians of the Galaxy – a swashbuckling, goofy hero who gets the job done in the end. In the words of our hero “I have to do what nobody else is willing to do.” Cliched dialogues aside, The Tomorrow War keeps itself interesting from the beginning to the end and is well worth the watch.

The Tomorrow War

Where can I watch Harry Potter movies?

Ever since J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in 1997, the young boy wizard has captured the attention of young and old admirers alike. Readers thronged book stores to get their hands on the latest instalment of Harry Potter’s adventures.

So when the first movie, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was released in 2001, it was a super-duper hit. There are a total of 8 Harry Potter movies based on the books of the same name.

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) – On his eleventh birthday, young Harry Potter discovers he is the orphaned child of two powerful wizards. He is taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to learn about his unique heritage.
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) – Harry Potter is warned not to return to Hogwarts but he does. He encounters a series of mysterious attacks and events at the school.
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) – Harry returns with his friends, Ron and Hermione, for a third year at Hogwarts. They face the infamous prisoner, Sirius Black, who has escaped from Azkaban and is headed for Hogwarts.
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) – Harry Potter’s name emerges from the Goblet of Fire and he must represent Hogwarts in the Triwizard Tournament.
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix (2007) – Lord Voldermort has returned and the Ministry of Magic is doing everything it can to prevent the truth from coming out.
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) – Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts for the sixth year and finds that Lord Voldermort is tightening his grip on the school. Dumbledore prepares Harry for the inevitable final battle.
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010) – Harry, Ron and Hermione set out to destroy the Horcruxes and discover the three most powerful objects in the wizarding world – the Deathly Hallows.
  8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011) – The final battle – it all ends here.

Where to stream Harry Potter movies in India?

There are multiple options to view Harry Potter movies online –

  1. Apple TV+ : Apple TV+ is offering all the eight Harry Potter movies as a bundle for Rs 2,900. You need to subscribe to their service which costs Rs 99 per month. Currently, you can get a free trial for 7 days, after which you will be charged Rs 99 per month.
  2. Amazon Prime Video: All eight Harry Potter movies are available on Amazon Prime Video. You need to subscribe to their service, which costs Rs 999 per year. This also includes ad-free music, and free and expedited delivery for e-commerce orders.
  3. Google Play – All eight Harry Potter movies are available on Google Play on rent for Rs 120 per movie. Once you rent, you can start to play it within 30 days and finish once started within 48 hours. Alternatively, you can buy each movie for Rs 620.

Sherni movie review (2021)

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Sherni movie trailer

Rating: 4/5

Time: 2 hours, 11 minutes

Cast: Vidya Balan, Vijay Raaz, Neeraj Kabi, Ila Arun, Sharat Saxena, Brijendra Kala

Sherni is a realistic and sensitive portrayal of the forest officers who are responsible for guarding India’s forests, flora and fauna. It provides a peek into the workings of the forest department that is constrained by political interference and the constant clash between man and wild animal in the quest for survival.

Vidya Balan plays Vidya Vincent, a Divisional Forest Officer, in the movie. She is posted in a remote forest location in Madhya Pradesh, while her husband stays back in Mumbai where he works. Faced with loneliness and a stalled career with no growth prospects, she often wonders about resigning. Her posting is not easy. She is surrounded by male misogynists. At one point, someone tells her “When trouble comes, they send a lady officer.”

A man-eating tigress creates more trouble for her because fearful villagers create pressure on the forest department to capture the animal. The issue gets further complicated when two rival politicians manipulate the villagers in a bid to win the next elections. One of them gets a professional hunter, Ranjan Rajhans (played by Sharat Saxena) involved. Rajhans calls himself a conservationist but in reality he is just looking to make his next trophy kill.

Sherni provides a fascinating view of how tigers are tracked in the wild. Officers have to trek hundreds of kilometres to locate the animal’s pug marks and droppings. Camera traps are set up in various parts of the jungle to understand the animal’s movements. Sherni is based on the true events surrounding the 2018 killing of tigress, Avni, in the Yavatmal forests of Maharashtra. At that time, as in this movie, it had caused major national controversy.

The movie is a must-watch to increase our appreciation of Mother Nature. Another reason to see the movie – Vidya Balan’s understated and graceful performance as she quietly goes about fulfilling her official duties.

The Family Man – Season 2 review (2021)

Streaming on Amazon Prime

The Family Man Season 2

Rating: 4/5

Time: 9 episodes of approximately 40 minutes each

Cast: Manoj Bajpai, Priyamani, Samantha Akkineni, Sharib Hashmi, Seema Biswas

Season 2 of The Family Man is similar to Season 1 in terms of taking real-life, socio-political issues to create plot twists and turns in the story. While season 1 focussed on the Pakistan-sponsored terrorism angle in Jammu & Kashmir, Season 2 focuses on the LTTE and Tamil issue in Sri Lanka. In fact, the web series takes it one step further – what if India’s enemies – Pakistani jihadi terrorists and Tamil rebels were to unite to cause disruption in India?

The Family Man in a new avatar

Manoj Bajpai ably reprises his role as Srikant Tiwari but in a whole new life situation. After having resigned from TASC team at the NIA, he joins a 9-to-5 corporate job that lifts him out of his middle-class status. He has a brand-new car, his son has new gizmos and gadgets to play with and the family has made the downpayment on a brand, new flat. And he is working on his fractured marital relationship with wife, Shuchi (played by Priyamani). But his heart is not in his job. Guess, once a spy…always a spy?

A hostage situation in Chennai gives Tiwari the opportunity to get back in the game. His trusted colleague JK (played by Sharib Hashmi) provides him with news and updates on the current case and Tiwari realises his role is not behind a desk, working for a “minimum guy” boss but out in the field, fighting terrorists, following leads and catching the bad guys.

Exceptional performance by Samantha Akkineni

Samantha Akkineni as the Tamil rebel, Raji, is phenomenal. The award-winning actress has brought great depth and emotion to the complex character she has played.

Never a dull moment, Season 2 lives up to expectations of being a bingeworthy show. Interesting subplots, humorous and witty dialogues and strong performances by the entire cast make The Family Man one of the best Indian shows. So, get the snacks out….and don’t get up till the bad guys get caught.

The Family Man – Season 1 review (2019)

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Rating: 4/5

Time: 10 episodes of 45-50 minutes each

Cast: Manoj Bajpayi, Priyamani, Sharib Hashmi, Gul Panag, Dalip Tahil

Our very own Indian spy with the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) is fighting terrorists across the border, conducting online surveillance, and getting into gun fights on the streets of Mumbai. But at the end of the day he has to get back to his mundane middle-class home, a wife and two children, and his middle-class car. The Family Man is an edge-of-the-seat thriller that has enough plot twists and turns to keep you hooked till the tenth episode. There are plenty of laughs too as our protagonist lives out his double life – spy in the office and husband and father at home.  

Srikant Tiwari’s (played by Manoj Bajpai) wife and two children are blissfully unaware of the actual nature of their father’s job. His wife Suchitra (played by Priyamani) attempts to chart her own career and work through workplace relationships, while managing home and children. All the while, she genuinely believes that all her husband does at his desk job is pushing files.

The Family Man manages to touch on a wide variety of socio-political events of the day, including jihadi terrorism, Hindu nationalism, mob lynchings, student politics, and mass surveillance tactics by intelligence agencies. All of these issues provide enough action and drama to propel the series forward through 10 episodes.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series review (2018-2019)

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Rating: 4/5

Time: 2 seasons, 16 episodes

Cast: John Krasinski, Wendell Pierce, Abbie Cornish, Noomi Rapace, Dina Shihabi

Bestselling novelist Tom Clancy’s spy character, Jack Ryan’s adventures have been dramatised on Amazon Prime’s series of the same name. 

In the first season, Jack Ryan transitions from a desk job as a CIA analyst to the field as he pursues a digital trail of suspicious bank transfers leading to the dreaded Islamic terrorist, Suleiman. In the second season, the story shifts to Venezuela where the threat is Russia supplying nuclear weapons to an unstable South American regime. 

Never a dull moment, the storylines in both seasons are absorbing with sufficient twists and turns to keep you engaged till the end of the series.

Mom (2013-2021)

Streaming on Amazon Prime

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Time: 8 seasons; 170 episodes of 21 minutes each

Cast: Anna Faris, Allison Janney, Jaime Pressly, Mimi Kennedy, William Fichtner

The greatest strength of this comedic show is that it takes two deeply flawed characters and the extremely serious issue of alcoholism and makes it very, very funny! Christie is a recovering alcoholic with two children and a deep resentment for her mother, Bonnie, who is also a recovering alcoholic. The two are trying to turn around their lives, made complicated by the fact that they are broke, with low-paying jobs, and two small children to look after.

Mom is produced by Chuck Lorre, who has created several comedy shows, including The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. The show’s writers should get credit for finding the humour in seemingly hopeless life situations. The main characters on the show – Bonnie and Christie, are ably played by the Oscar winner, Allison Janney, and Anna Faris. Both women, along with a talented support cast, have great comedic timing. Overall, an entertaining and humorous show.