Tag Archives: Kaali Khuhi

New Indian Shows + Movies by Women

Earlier this year, CNN’s Diksha Madhok reported that services like Netflix and Amazon have offered women filmmakers in India a platform they’re often denied within the country’s own film industry. Madhok stressed that India’s increasingly autocratic government has begun threatening many filmmakers on these services with imprisonment and fines.

Much of this is due to Indian women filmmakers focusing on films that criticize rape culture. Many are based on rapes and murders of women that have become high-profile news stories, and depict the failure of government and police to respond properly or with accountability.

Other criticisms that have resulted in women filmmakers being threatened include presentations of Hindu-Muslim romances. Political firestorms have also resulted from how religious imagery is used, or the inclusion of nudity. Madhok’s article discusses both women and men filmmakers, but highlights the particular plight and threat involved in topics that women filmmakers have very actively pursued.

India is hardly the only country where women filmmakers face issues like these, but right now it presents a huge number of potential viewers for streaming services. Those streaming services often decide that it’s in their immediate financial interests to simply adhere to what a government requires in order to have access to those viewers. Streaming services will very often choose market access over equality.

I’ve been meaning to compile this article for a while, so I want to take a break from what I normally write about to feature this. It’s a slow week for new projects overall, and that makes a great opportunity to go back and look at new Indian series and movies directed by women. The more interest there is in other countries for Indian films made by women, the more streaming services will continue to support their projects despite the Indian government’s interference.

These are several that I’ve featured in the last year. Find one that sparks your love for stories, and please give it a try:


Bhaag Beanie Bhaag (Netflix)
directed by Debbie Rao

An aspiring stand-up comic pursues her dream job despite the disapproval of her parents. Reviews from India have been pretty favorable.

Beware heavy user brigading on review sites. There’s early upset that the show shares broad similarities to “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. Apparently only one woman in the entire world has a story to tell about double-standards in the stand-up comedy industry, and having a second woman tell one that takes place 60 years later from the complete other side of the world is too frequent. I’m not sure what the logic is – that women could only possibly face bigotry in the stand-up industry once every 70 years globally? Point is: review brigading would be silly if it wasn’t so damaging, and if you’re interested in this, do what you like, watch it, and be careful about how much credence you lend user reviews on places like IMDB and Metacritic.

“Bhaag Beanie Bhaag” is directed by Debbie Rao. She’s directed on a few Indian series, including the very well received “Better Life Foundation”, “Pushpavalli”, and India’s version of “The Office”.

You can watch “Bhaag Beanie Bhaag” on Netflix.

Masaba Masaba (Netflix)
showrunner Sonam Nair

Masaba Gupta is an Indian fashion designer. Her mother is prolific Indian actress Neena Gupta. “Masaba Masaba” stars the two of them in a comedy where they portray…themselves. It’s entirely scripted and framed as a narrative comedy, so there’s no reality TV element here. The characters the two portray are simply fictionalized versions of themselves.

Showrunner Sonam Nair has written and directed on a few different Indian TV series.

You can watch “Masaba Masaba” on Netflix.


Kaali Khuhi (Netflix)
directed by Terrie Samundra

Shivangi’s family moves to a rural village to look after her grandmother. Soon enough, she spies strange occurrences, even as residents of the village wind up dead. What’s a little girl to do but unravel a supernatural mystery?

This is Terrie Samundra’s first feature film.

You can watch “Kaali Khuhi” on Netflix.

Bombay Rose (Netflix)
directed by Gitanjali Rao

A deaf, orphan boy loses his job. A group of workers whisper about unionizing. An English teacher sets the table for her late husband every night. A Muslim man falls for a Hindu woman, each struggling to make ends meet. A single rose connects a city full of characters in a hand-painted animation that took 60 artists a year-and-a-half to make.

The absolutely awe-inspiring feat was helmed by writer, director, and editor Gitanjali Rao. This is her first feature animation, but her previous shorts “Printed Rainbow” and “TrueLoveStory” have earned praise and awards at Cannes and other festivals.

You can watch “Bombay Rose” on Netflix.

Cargo (Netflix)
directed by Arati Kadav

People who pass away appear on a spaceship, where a man named Prahastha takes care of them. He prepares them to move to the next life. He’s been doing this alone for a long time when an assistant arrives. It’s Yuvishka’s job to learn everything he knows.

This is director Arati Kadav’s first feature. In interviews, she’s described the film as fusing Indian mythology to Eastern sci-fi. She’s cited her influences as science-fiction writers Jorge Luis Borges and Ted Chiang, writers who have fused the abstracted edge of the genre to some of its most human moments.

You can watch “Cargo” on Netflix.

Dolly Kitty and Those Twinkling Stars (Netflix)
directed by Alankrita Shrivastava

Dolly is a wife and mother who is trying to hide a secret. Her cousin Kajal has just moved to the city. Kajal ends up working at a phone sex parlor under the name Kitty. The two alternately grow close and clash in their off-hours, winding a tricky path of trust and wariness of the other’s place in their lives.

Writer-director Alankrita Shrivastava has hit the ground running in recent years. Her “Lipstick Under My Burkha” won award after award on a major festival circuit, and she wrote nine episodes and directed two for Amazon original series “Made in Heaven”.

You can watch “Dolly Kitty and Those Twinkling Stars” on Netflix.

Bulbbul (Netflix)
directed by Anvita Dutt

Set in India during the 1880s, a 5 year old girl named Bulbbul is married off to a man decades her elder. After several years, the man’s younger brother Satya, whom she initially assumed to be her intended husband, is sent to London. Satya returns to find his family missing, and Bulbbul the only remaining survivor. He’s told his family was taken by a witch, just as some villagers have been.

I watched and reviewed this last year. It’s a deeply gothic inversion of horror with a message and aesthetic I loved, and a superb performances by Tripti Dimri and Paoli Dam. The truth is that there’s no horror that can match the ones people enact on each other, and the film makes its horror a hero. To paraphrase writer-director Anvita Dutt, “Bulbbul” is less about what happens, which you can infer pretty early on in the film. It’s more about how it happens, and why it’s cathartic.

Dutt has primarily worked as a screenwriter and songwriter on Indian films. “Bulbbul” is her directorial debut.

You can watch “Bulbull” on Netflix.

Shakuntala Devi (Amazon)
directed by Anu Menon

Shakuntala Devi was someone who could calculate just about anything in her head. She became known as a human computer, and demonstrated her ability for crowds. She later became a writer in India. This included what’s considered the first study of homosexuality in India, one that argued for its decriminalization. She passed away in 2013. The film is an energetic biographical take on her life.

Writer-director Anu Menon has come to prominence more recently in the Indian film industry.

You can watch “Shakuntala Devi” on Amazon.

Tribhanga (Netflix)
directed by Renuka Shahane

“Tribhanga” follows women of three different generations in India, and tells the stories of how each raised the next. The title is derived from the name of a dance pose that’s often described as simultaneously beautiful and imperfect.

The film was originally envisioned as a smaller production, but gained momentum (and a Netflix deal) as major producers joined.

Director Renuka Shahane is a popular Indian actress. This is only her second film listed as director after 2009’s well-received “Rita”.

You can watch “Tribhanga” on Netflix.

Guilty (Netflix)
directed by Ruchi Narain

A songwriter’s boyfriend is accused of rape. What follows plays out both on a personal level and in the media. It’s a bit difficult to get as much information about the film as I’d like, but it’s supposed to look into aspects of victim-blaming.

It’s advertised along the lines of a thriller over whether the accusation is real or not. That gives me some pause. I don’t know how it intends to handle an accusation like this. I’m wary of the potential of a twist that might undermine belief in the victim, though this worry could be unfounded just because of the “thriller” nature of how it’s being advertised.

You can watch “Guilty” on Netflix.

Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.

If you like what you read on this site, consider subscribing to Gabriel Valdez’s Patreon. It helps with the time and resources to continue writing articles like this one.

New Shows + Movies by Women — October 30, 2020

It’s looking like a great week if you’ve got Netflix or HBO in particular. It’s also a good week for projects from other countries – including a new series from Spain, and new films from India and Nigeria.

This is a week where I’ll split off new documentaries by women into a separate article for next week. It’s always good when there’s too much to cover in one go for this feature. Let’s get to the new series and narrative films:


The Undoing (HBO)
directed by Susanne Bier

“The Undoing” is a thriller based on the novel “You Should Have Known” by Jean Hanff Korelitz. Grace is a therapist who has a number of run-ins with a strange woman who ends up discovered dead in her studio. Her husband is cast under suspicion, and a number of hidden truths come bubbling up to the surface during the investigation.

The cast for this is ridiculous, with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant as the wife and husband, Edgar Ramirez as the investigating agent, and Donald Sutherland as…I’m not entirely sure, but Donald Sutherland playing vicious is always fun to watch.

Susanne Bier directs. She started directing music videos and features in Denmark in the late 1980s and early 90s. Her 2010 film “In a Better World” won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. She won an Emmy for directing Tom Hiddleston-starrer “The Night Manager” in 2016. And love it or hate it, her film “Bird Box” was a massive success for Netflix – garnering a record number of views for a Netflix original movie in its first week.

You can watch “The Undoing” on HBO with a subscription. New episodes will air weekly.

Perfect Life (HBO)
showrunner Leticia Dolera

“Vida Perfecta”, or “Perfect Life”, is a Spanish series that follows three friends who find their lives in crisis. They support each other as they try to find a way through to being happy again.

There’s no English trailer currently available, though I believe the show will be translated on HBO. You can get a pretty good idea of the series’ subject and tone from this, though.

Leticia Dolera writes, directs, and stars. Dolera is primarily known for acting in films ranging from “Imagining Argentina” to “[REC] 3: Genesis”. This is the first series she’s directing, though she directed the well received feature “Requirements to be a Normal Person”.

You can watch “Perfect Life” on HBO Max with a subscription. The entire series is available at once.


Kaali Khuhi (Netflix)
directed by Terrie Samundra

Shivangi’s family moves to a rural village to look after her grandmother. Soon enough, she spies strange occurrences, even as residents of the village wind up dead. What’s a little girl to do but unravel a supernatural mystery?

This is Terrie Samundra’s first feature film.

You can watch “Kaali Khuhi” on Netflix with a subscription.

Emma. (HBO)
directed by Autumn de Wilde

It’s easy to consider the latest take on Jane Austen’s “Emma” a light comedy with brilliant design. The trailer seems to speak to this, but there’s more to it than just that. The design itself becomes a storyteller in the film that alternately complements and undermines the characters and even the main narrative voice.

If we think of a film as being told to us by a single voice, the design here is used in a way that provides a second and often contradictory storyteller. It’s a unique approach to a period comedy of errors that makes another take on “Emma” feel exhilarating and fresh.

Director Autumn de Wilde is chiefly known for her music videos for Jenny Lewis, Beck, Rilo Kiley, The Raconteurs, and Florence + The Machine. “Emma” is, somewhat mind-bogglingly, her first feature.

You can watch “Emma” on HBO Max with a subscription.

Yes, God, Yes (Netflix)
directed by Karen Maine

“Yes, God, Yes” follows a teenager who attends a Catholic camp while trying to resist sexual temptation. She feels deep shame while making that most profound teenage discovery that a lot of the people telling you how to behave are complete hypocrites. If you recognize lead Natalia Dyer, it’s probably because she plays Nancy Wheeler on Netflix’s “Stranger Things”.

“Yes, God, Yes” is a dryer comedy than director Karen Maine’s previous work. She co-wrote the short film on which 2014’s “Obvious Child” is based and has story credit on the feature. “Yes, God, Yes” is her feature debut as a writer and director, though.

I included this previously during its virtual theatrical run, but missed last week when it came to Netflix. This is the first time it’s on a subscription streaming service.

You can watch “Yes, God, Yes” on Netflix with a subscription. You can also see where to rent it via streaming right here.

The Craft: Legacy (Amazon)
directed by Zoe Lister-Jones

“The Craft” was a rare crossover that was both cult movie and pop sensation in 1996. It followed a group of high school students who became a coven of witches. Some of them use their powers productively, others less so. “The Craft: Legacy” is a sequel, albeit one that follows a new group of high schoolers discovering similar powers.

Director Zoe Lister-Jones worked her way from guest appearances to series regular on shows like “Whitney” and leads in indie films like “Lola Versus” (which she also wrote). As a director, this is her second feature after the well received “Band Aid”.

You can watch “The Craft: Legacy” on Amazon with a subscription.

I Am Woman (Netflix)
directed by Unjoo Moon

“I Am Woman” is a biopic about singer Helen Reddy. She was considered one of the most successful pop artists of the 1970s. Songs like “I Am Woman” spearheaded a wave of freshly empowered music that helped give popular voice to the era’s feminist movement.

The film’s written by Emma Jensen, who also wrote 2017’s “Mary Shelley” biopic. This is the first narrative feature from director Unjoo Moon, and she previously directed Tony Bennett documentary “The Zen of Bennett”.

You can watch “I Am Woman” on Netflix with a subscription.

In Line (Netflix)
directed by Tope Oshin

A man comes home from prison hoping to pick life up as he left it. Soon, he suspects his wife of cheating. Their marriage and business are both at risk, so he hires a private investigator to discoverer the truth.

Tope Oshin is a fascinating director in Nigeria’s film industry. She risked a great deal in writing and directing the queer film “We Don’t Live Here Anymore”. It was refused a theatrical release in Nigeria, yet went on to be picked up by Amazon and earn several nominations and wins at the Best of Nollywood Awards.

You can watch “In Line” on Netflix with a subscription.

Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.

If you enjoy what you read on this site, consider subscribing to Gabriel Valdez’s Patreon. It helps with the time and resources to continue writing articles like this one.