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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

After Sacred Games season 2, a definitive ranking of every Netflix India original series, from Leila to Typewriter

Now that the second season of Sacred Games has finally been released, here’s a ranking of every Netflix India original series so far; from Leila to Ghoul.

tv Updated: Aug 16, 2019 21:19 IST
Rohan Naahar
Rohan Naahar
Hindustan Times
Netflix India shows ranked: Mithila Palkar in a still from Little Things, Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Sacred Games 2, and Huma Qureshi in Leila.
Netflix India shows ranked: Mithila Palkar in a still from Little Things, Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Sacred Games 2, and Huma Qureshi in Leila.

With the release of the second season of Sacred Games, a circle, as Guruji would say, has closed its loop. It’s been a little over a year since Netflix released its first Indian original series, and there has been no looking back since.

The streaming giant, in that year, has pushed the boundaries of Indian entertainment, and has set new benchmarks, spawning numerous imitators. While Amazon Prime Video has been just as bullish - some would say even more so, considering its forays into regional language content - its output has been rather hit-or-miss. And as for Hotstar, finding a charitable way of describing its uninspired slate of mediocre remakes is proving to be as difficult as the notion of Ganesh Gaitonde censoring his speech.

With an even more ambitious plan mapped out for the future, fans can expect at least one Indian original (series or film) every month, going forward. In fact, you’d have to wait only about a month till Netflix debuts its next big-ticket release, the spy drama Bard of Blood, boasting the high pedigree of producer Shah Rukh Khan and star Emraan Hashmi. It remains to be seen, however, if Netflix India can shake off the albatross on its back - a larger than usual unsubscription rate - as it broadens its approach.

But as we wait and watch, here’s a ranking of all seven Netflix India originals, from worst to best:

Selection Day


Easily its biggest slip-up, Netflix’s two-season adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s novel appeared to have been made by a bunch of people who weren’t necessarily as familiar with modern India as they should have been, and therefore unprepared to tell a story so rooted in its milieu.

Also read: Selection Day review: Netflix India’s new series, produced by Anil Kapoor, is the weakest member of the team



Through images and symbols, and through the violent rhetoric we’ve become all too familiar with - words like ‘anti national’ and ‘terrorist’ - Ghoul revealed itself to be a surprisingly potent show. It wasn’t merely a critique of modern India - nor was it just a cautionary tale of where we might be headed - but it was a takedown, a slap in the face; it was humiliation before 150 million paying subscribers.

Also read: Ghoul review: Netflix’s Sacred Games follow-up is even braver, scary in unexpected ways



Written and directed by Sujoy Ghosh, the five-part series combined elements of Enid Blyton with the early work Steven Spielberg and Stephen King, and served up a nostalgic story that could appeal to fans of old-fashioned mysteries, as well as those that have grown up on the Conjuring films.

Also read: Typewriter review: Sujoy Ghosh’s Netflix show is a worthy follow-up to Stranger Things



What Leila could not achieve in terms of streamlined storytelling, it more than made up for with the sheer audacity of its ideas, and for having the bravery of following through on them. Unfortunately, though, the show suffered from a serious dip in quality towards its second half. What began as one of the bravest works of fiction in recent memory turned into pale parody of itself by the end.

Also read: Leila review: Provocative and political; Huma Qureshi owns Netflix India’s most courageous show yet

Little Things Season 2


While the definition of what a Netflix Original truly is seems to be as slippery as Suleiman Isa, for the purposes of this list, let’s just assume that the second season of the popular web series Little Things belongs here. Season 2, acquired by Netflix and rebranded as an original, continued to make smart, insightful observations about modern romance and gender politics, without ever losing the lived-in charm that made Little Things so wonderful in the first place.

Also read: Little Things season 2 review: Netflix takes Mithila Palkar, Dhruv Sehgal’s delightful show to the big time

Delhi Crime


Delhi Crime was gut-wrenching, stylishly directed, passionately performed, and most important, not at all exploitative. Based upon the heinous 2012 gang rape case, the show was told from the unlikely perspective of the police - which was both refreshing and problematic. But creator Ritchie Mehta’s sympathetic tone went a long way in making the wrenching story more palatable.

Also read: Delhi Crime review: Gut-wrenching, shocking; the best Indian Netflix show since Sacred Games

Sacred Games


Netflix India’s first original show remains its best; a dense crime saga that showed the world what India is capable of - cinematically, politically, and ethically.

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The author tweets @RohanNaahar