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Crossover Stars: South Indian Actors Who Are Acing The Hindi Web Series Game

V Cinema |Friday, 25 Nov 2022 - 9:01 PM

Crossover Stars South Indian Actors Who Are Winning The Hindi Web Series Game-7
Crossover Stars South Indian Actors Who Are Winning The Hindi Web Series Game-7

These actors are using the national OTT web series arena to their advantage and scoring points with the national audiences

When the pandemic struck the world, with their regular entertainment fare being out of bounds, audiences moved their attention to much more accessible OTT platforms. Another huge change seen amongst the viewing audiences is their growing inclination towards the web series format and OTT shows were being churned out by the day not just in the West but also in India. New OTT players such as Zee5, SonyLIV, MX Player, and Aha started playing in the same field as Netflix and Prime Video. This gave birth to newer and more local-themed storytelling and with most OTT movies and web series equipped with subtitles, audiences began to explore content outside the traditional language boundaries; they grew more open to seeing actors from different states and industries. It certainly led to a great change in casting for web series; viewers now preferred authenticity and did not mind watching real South Indians play South Indian characters in a Hindi web series. It opened up a lot of doors for actors from across cine industries and it was a space with plenty of opportunities.

Crossover Stars South Indian Actors Who Are Winning The Hindi Web Series Game-12

Critically acclaimed filmmaking duo Raj and DK created a big impact on many careers in 2019 when they made their web series directorial debut with the Hindi Prime Video Original ‘The Family Man’ starring Manoj Bajpayee. Priyamani, who has acted predominantly in South Indian movies, received national-level fame and popularity with her strong role in the series. After the success of the first season, Raj and DK pulled a massive casting coup by convincing South Indian superstar Samantha to play an important role in the second season. Her powered-packed performance made her a national sensation and led her to climb a lot of steps towards global stardom, including a leading role in the Indian remake of the web series ’Citadel' on Amazon Prime with Varun Dhawan. It put Malayalam actor Neeraj Madhav, who played a crucial role in the first season of the show, on the national map. 

Now, there are more than a handful of actors who made the successful crossover from the big screen in the South to web series in the North and many are continuing to look to crack it, owing to the immense potential it has in terms of opportunities. Here are some of the names we have come up with:

1. Nithya Menen

Crossover Stars South Indian Actors Who Are Winning The Hindi Web Series Game-8

With her fresh take on acting and author-backed roles, it was only time before Nithya Menen made her debut on the OTT platform. ‘Breathe: Into The Shadows’, which started streaming in 2020, is not just the OTT debut vehicle of Nithya but also of Hindi cinema star Abhishek Bachchan. Nithya and Abishek play parents to a child who has been kidnapped. While the first season of ‘Breathe’ was based on the trials of Madhavan as a father and in the subsequent two seasons, the plot focuses on another father — Abhishek, whose child faces a threat to her life. Nithya’s performance as a mother in a stressful situation as well as a supportive wife to Abhishek’s character has earned the praise of critics. But the length and scope of her role were deemed to be insufficient to create a lasting impression on the minds of national audiences. Her role and performance in the 2022 Prime Original Telugu Series, Modern Love, has received much more applause, however.

2. Madhavan

Crossover Stars South Indian Actors Who Are Winning The Hindi Web Series Game-6

Known to be an intelligent actor, Madhavan has, in the past, been part of successful Hindi cinema including the cult classic ‘Rang De Basanti’ and ‘Tanu Weds Manu’, thanks to his strong command over Hindi and national appeal. While his performance in his Hindi OTT debut in the 2018 Prime Original Series ‘Breathe’ as Danny Mascarenhas, the father of a child suffering from a serious health condition was praised by many, the show’s writing was criticised. His next role on the OTT platform was in Manu Joseph’s Hindi-English urban romantic comedy ‘Decoupled’. Heavily laced with dark humour, the show is based on a couple who are going through a divorce and find comfort in the absurdities of life around them. Madhavan’s witty performance was a hit with reviewers; however, the show, like his previous OTT show, received mixed reviews.

3. JD Chakravarthy

Crossover Stars South Indian Actors Who Are Winning The Hindi Web Series Game-3

JD achieved nationwide fame for his performance as the lead in Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya alongside Urmila Matondkar. Almost 25 years later, JD Chakravarthy is going to star alongside Urmila in his Hindi OTT show debut ‘Tiwari’, which is being nicknamed as her comeback vehicle and is also her web series debut. Recently, the actor/director/composer worked in the Bollywood movies, ‘Ek Villain Returns’ and ‘Anek’, and making his Hindi OTT debut seems like a step in the right direction. The release date for the show is yet to be revealed and we will have to wait to catch a glimpse of JD’s first look in ‘Tiwari’.

4. Kannada Kishore

Crossover Stars South Indian Actors Who Are Winning The Hindi Web Series Game-4

Kishore has become extremely popular with the Telugu audience as ‘Forest Officer Murali’ from the 2022 pan-Indian Kannada blockbuster Kantara, but Kishore Kumar or Kannada Kishore, as he is popularly called, enjoyed the appreciation of fans and critics in the Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada industries since two decades. His serious on-screen demeanour and ability to execute thrilling action sequences have earned him multiple roles across the South Indian cinema industries and the same was a hit with national audiences as well. He made his Hindi OTT debut in the 2018 action-thriller show ‘The Family Man: Season 1’ in the supporting role of Force One officer Imran Pasha. His big break came in 2020 when he played one of the lead roles in the Netflix show ‘She’, written by popular Bollywood director Imitiaz Ali. He reprised his role in the second season of the show and his performance in earned good praise, but the show was criticised for its flawed writing,

5. Aadarsh Balakrishna

Crossover Stars South Indian Actors Who Are Winning The Hindi Web Series Game-1

Since his cinema debut in Nagesh Kukunoor’s 2005 cricket drama ’Iqbal’, Aadarsh Balakrishna has been in and out of the big screen with roles in commercial as well as low-budget cinema in the South over the past two decades. Making a move towards national OTT shows seems like an organic step for Aadarsh who enjoys a following among the urban audiences. During the pandemic, two of the Telugu movies he starred in, received a straight OTT release in 2020 and in the same year, he made his Hindi web series debut with Sony Liv’s ‘Avrodh’ — a military drama that retells the 2016 URI Attack in Kashmir’s Baramulla district that leads up to the subsequent surgical strikes by the Indian Army. Despite a strong cast of members including Neeraj Kabi, Amit Sadh, and Sanjay Suri, the show failed to click with the audiences and critics alike. He also starred in the 2020 military thriller ‘Peshawar’ which streams on Ullu.

6. Prakash Raj

Crossover Stars South Indian Actors Who Are Winning The Hindi Web Series Game-9

An industry veteran, Prakash Raj certainly took his time to make his Hindi OTT debut. While he worked in Hindi movies for a long time, he acted in his first Hindi web series in 2022 in the recently released spy thriller show, ‘Mukhbir: The Story of a Spy’, in which he plays the role of a cop Bhagat, who trains Indian intelligence agents. ‘Mukhbir’, which is streaming on Zee5, has received well-rounded praise and Prakash Raj’s performance was received well by the web audience who liked the humour he brought to the character. His first ever web series is the 2020 Telugu crime drama series ‘Shootout At Alair’, which started streaming on Zee5. He has also appeared in the 2021 Netflix Tamil anthology web series ‘Navarasa’ created by Mani Ratnam. In the 2022 ‘Anantham’, he played his first lead role in an original web series and the Tamil family drama, which streams on Zee5, and has been described by reviewers as “endearing”.

7. Aindrita Ray

Crossover Stars South Indian Actors Who Are Winning The Hindi Web Series Game-2

The Kannada film actress enjoys good fandom among Kannada audiences, but after a decline in strong lead roles in Sandalwood, Aindrita chose not to wait for her Hindi film debut. The actress, whose parents are originally from Bengal, had already played a few roles in Bengali movies. However, she got a big break to explore the scope of OTT and web series spaces with the 2020 Zee5 original web series ‘The Casino’ and the 2021 MXPlayer web series ‘Sanak - Ek Junoon’.

8. Regina Cassandra

Crossover Stars South Indian Actors Who Are Winning The Hindi Web Series Game-10

The year has indeed been a breakout year on OTT for Regina Cassandra who has, so far in her career, acted in more than 40 films across Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada languages. At the beginning of this year, her first Hindi web series ‘Rocket Boys’, co-starring Jim Sarbh and Ishwak Sen, started streaming on SonyLIV. Her graceful portrayal of legendary Indian classical dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai won her a lot of praise and in June 2022, the Tamil web series ’Fingertips’ started streaming on Zee5, which is based on a group of people impacted by digital life in which she had a starring role. In July 2022, the Hindi web series ‘Shoorveer’ started streaming on Disney+Hotstar, in which she plays Flight Lieutenant Avantika Rao. She also had a lead role in the popular Tamil-Telugu horror web series ‘Anya's Tutorial’ which streams on Aha. She has completed shooting for the Hindi web series ‘Farzi’ which will air on Prime Video. Looks like Regina managed to earn important roles in the web series of almost all top national OTT giants.

9. Shreya Dhanwanthary

Crossover Stars South Indian Actors Who Are Winning The Hindi Web Series Game-13

Born to a Hindi-speaking father and a Telugu-speaking mother, Shreya Dhanwanthary took the advantage of her mixed roots to play a variety of roles in her career since her Miss India runner-up days. The NIT Warangal graduate starred in a couple of Telugu and Hindi movies but she seems to have found her true calling — web series. Her first role in a web series was in the 2016 Hindi TV mini-series ‘Ladies Room’ produced by Yashraj’s Y-Films. She then went on to star in ‘Reunion’, a Hindi web series on Zee5 in 2018. Her big break came in 2018 with ‘The Family Man’ in which she played TASC agent Zoya. In 2020, a web miniseries titled ‘A Viral Wedding’, which is written and directed by Shreya, started streaming on Eros Now. She also played the lead character in the web series. Then came her portrayal as the real-life award-winning financial journalist Sucheta Dalal in the 2020 Hindi web series ‘Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story’ on SonyLiv, which garnered her a lot of praise. She followed it with roles in Prime Video’s 'Mumbai Diaries 26/11' and ‘Unpaused: Naya Safar’. She will soon be seen in the Hindi comedy-crime thriller web series ‘Guns and Gulaab’, created and directed by Raj and DK for Netflix.

Updated date:  Monday, 28 Nov 2022 - 1:36 PM

Contributors: Team VC

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