In 2018, some stellar work emerged from Indian web television. Digital content was suddenly on the rise, with a slew of TV shows, films, and mini-series winning over Indian audiences. And now, the productions have gotten an international nod of approval: Sacred Games and Lust Stories, both Netflix productions, and The Remix, produced by Amazon Prime, have been nominated for the 2019 International Emmy Awards.
The second season of Sacred Games starring Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui (directed by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane) has been nominated for the best drama series of the year, one out of a diverse string of web television productions. In the same category, there is Brazil’s One Against All, the United Kingdom’s McMafia and Germany’s Bad Banks. Media outlets like The Hollywood Reporter have touted Sacred Games as a top contender in this category.
Meanwhile, Lust Stories has been nominated under two categories: Best TV movie/mini-series and Best Performance by an Actress, under which Radhika Apte has been chosen. The Remix, a music-challenge series made by Amazon Prime India, was nominated under non-scripted television series.
This year, the prestigious International Emmy awards include 44 nominees across 11 categories and 21 countries.
When it comes to Lust Stories, an anthology film made by four directors, various stories of love, sexuality, and gender politics are depicted. There’s the short segment by Anurag Kashyap (also the co-director of Sacred Games) featuring Apte as a college professor, who sleeps with a student and later reveals she is married. Then there’s a scene where Kiara Advani, a newly-married schoolteacher, uses a vibrator until she climaxes—something inadvertently witnessed by her mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and husband. Each of the short films is explicit in its storylines and portrayals.
The same can be said for Sacred Games. The first Indian Netflix original series caused a storm in India and worldwide when it came out in July 2018. There’s violence, straightforward commentary on the country’s obsession with religion, and a whole lot of cussing. It is altogether undeniably unapologetic. The fast-paced episodes have gripped audiences and reviewers alike, both cinematically and emotionally.
Needless to say, these television offerings were not subjected to India’s ordinarily-strict censorship rules.
The Central Board of Film Certification has long censored anything considered offensive—such as nudity and violence—from film and television in the country. Creators under these platforms, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, are not subjected to the same laws. Indian artists have been given a space with a lot more freedom, which may actually be paying off.