Netflix launched its first Indian original film – the cute romantic comedy Love Per Square Foot – in February 2018. Since then the streamer has released dozens more original movies and series from India, with lots of high-profile projects. (Check out our 2022 Indian Originals preview for details on titles coming soon.) But which have been the biggest hits in terms of ratings and viewership? And what are some other titles that are too good to pass up? We’ve got you covered with the best Indian Netflix Originals ever released.
Best Indian Original Movies
As far as criticism of Netflix leaning heavily towards Hindi content is concerned, it is poetic that their highest-rated Indian original film is in Malayalam. Netflix gave superhero flick Minal Fife a major release date on Christmas Eve in 2021, and customers responded enthusiastically. At the time of this writing, Minnal Murali has an 8.2 rating on IMDb – more than half a point higher than the next highest-rated Indian Netflix original film (Dhamaka, in case you were curious). Minnal Fife scored 75% on Tomatometer in Rotten Tomatoes, where it claims a 94% audience score.
Prolific Malayalam-industry leading man Tovino Thomas – who has appeared in 41 films since his debut ten years ago – plays a humble tailor who gains superpowers when he is struck by lightning. But he wasn’t the only one to be hit by that lightning bolt…
Netflix’s most successful Hindi Original film 2021 is Murder Mystery Haseen Dilruba. The film stars Taapsee Pannu and Vikrant Massey as a married couple who deal with infidelity in some very unhealthy ways. When it was released, Haseen Dilruba earned a spot in the top 10 rankings of 22 different countries. It spent four weeks in the global top 10 for non-English films, clocking a total of 24,630,000 hours. The only other Indian-origin star in the Global Top 10 with more hours was – you guessed it – Minnal Murali.
With the years Netflix has spent building its reputation with quality Indian originals, the streaming service has put it in a position to attract top talent for its special releases. A classic example of this is Ludo, a black comedy with an impressive ensemble cast and helmed by award-winning director Anurag Basu.
Basu’s crime caper connects four different subplots through a single antagonist: an indestructible gangster played by the hilarious Pankaj Tripathi. Each subplot gets its own color scheme matching the four corners of the Ludo game board (board games such as “aggression,” “troublesome,” or “headache” are international variations of Ludo). The stellar cast includes Rajkummar Rao, Abhishek Bachchan, Aditya Roy Kapur, Sanya Malhotra and Fatima Sana Shaikh, with Basu himself doing a cameo as one of the onscreen storytellers.
Best Indian Netflix Original Series
It should come as no surprise that Delhi Crime is the highest-rated Netflix Indian Original Series. In 2020, it won the International Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series – the first Indian series to do so. Delhi Crime has an 8.5 rating on IMDb, scoring 94% on both Tomatometer and Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Season 1 of Delhi Crime is based on the 2012 Delhi gang rape case that made international headlines. The story follows a crime investigation led by Deputy Commissioner of Police Vartika Chaturvedi (Shefali Shah). The series was officially renewed for a second season, with Shah and the main cast returning to investigate a new, different crime.
Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein
The most-watched Netflix Indian Original Series is Yeh Kaali Kali Aankhen (“Yeh Black Black Eyes”) which released in January 2022. During its one week in the Global Top 10, the series clocked 11,260,000 hours. Those numbers were good enough to get the crime thriller renewed for a second season. Season 1 follows a cheerful, small-town boy whose life takes a dangerous turn when the daughter of a powerful local politician takes a romantic interest in him.
Netflix is fond of creating Indian original compilations, some of which are presented as single films and others that are classified as series with individual episodes. An episodic anthology worth checking out is Ray, which features four-hour-long films based on the work of acclaimed writer and director Satyajit Ray. The anthology features contributions from veteran actors and filmmakers such as Manoj Bajpayee, Kay Kay Menon and Abhishek Choubey, as well as emerging talent such as Vasan Bala, Radhika Madan and Harshvardhan Kapoor.