OTT releases in India: Maara leads the list this week

A still from the Tamil film Maara
(Image credit: Youtube)

After the big New Year celebrations, and ahead of the festival week, things appear to be largely muted on the entertainment front. Several big budget films are seeking theatrical releases, but with states sticking with social distancing led restrictions of seat occupancy, streaming platforms continue to be a viable alternative. 

As different parts of India gear up to celebrate Sankranthi, Pongal and Baisakhi next week, the OTT platforms are buzzing again. This week, it is the Tamil movie Maara, led by popular actor Madhavan, that headlines the major releases. There is also Bhoomi, in the same language that holds attention. 

Kaagaz, the real-life story of a villager pronounced dead in official records arrived on Thursday, while the political thriller Tandav with Saif Ali Khan and Dimple Kapadia is the other attraction this week. 

And we round off the week's recommendations with a chat show where an actress host buttonholes her actor husband. It should be fun as both are top-flight current stars Naga Chaitanya and Samantha.

Here is a quick snapshot of the releases of the week:


Director: Satisk Kaushik

Cast: Pankaj Tripathi, Satish Kaushik, Monal Gajjar, Mita Vashisht, Amar Upadhyay and Nishant Kaushik

Synopsis: A film produced by the Bollywood biggie Salman Khan (along with Nishant Kaushik) is always going to be talked about. And when it features someone like Pankaj Tripathi, it is going draw even more attention. For, he has been on a roll this lockdown season with commendable performances in web series and movies.

Kaagaz is an interesting story about a real-life person who was declared dead, and who fought a case for nearly 19 years to prove that he was, well, alive. Getting the death annulled is a life-threatening task. Well, almost. This tragicomedy forms the crux of Kaagaz as it delves into the maddening bureaucracy that a country like India has failed to erase. 

Language: Hindi

Platform: Zee5

Release date: January 7, 2021.


Director: Dhilip Kumar

Cast: Madhavan, Shraddha Srinath, Sshivada, Moulee, Alexander Babu

Synopsis: This is a remake of the Malayalam hit Charlie, starring Dulquer Salmaan and Parvathy Thiruvothu. But Madhavan, Maara's lead, has made it clear that it is just an adaptation. Madhavan, who is a considerably older than Dulquer, says the script has been tweaked to suit the sensibilities of his age.

The movie narrates the story of a woman searching for a maverick man while she herself is on the run from her family to escape marriage. She rents a room where a sketchbook of the previous occupant intrigues her curiosity. What follows is a quest to get the story that the sketchbook leaves incomplete. It is a story of suspense with a strange humour appearing often in the narrative. 

Language: Tamil

Platform: Amazon Prime Video

Release date: January 8, 2021.


Director: R Lakshman

Cast: Jayam Ravi, Niddhi Agerwal, Ronit Roy

Synopsis: Bhoomi happens to be the first Tamil direct release on the Disney+ Hotstar platform. Moreover, it is also the 25th film of actor Jayam Ravi, both of which adds to its chutzpah. Remember, there is a lot of prestige riding on the movie.

Jayam Ravi plays a farmer, and as is the feature in his movies, one can safely bet on plenty of politically incisive dialogues. The plight of those who take up agriculture in this country forms the crux of the story. The timing couldn't have been better as it comes at a time when India is witnessing an agitation by farmers. It is a commercial entertainer but with the social message is what the director says. Preachy and loud movies have been the vane of Tamil filmdom in recent times. It is hoped that Bhoomi does not fall into the same rut.   

Language: Tamil

Platform: Disney+ Hotstar

Release date: January 14, 2021


Director: Ali Abbas Zafar

Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Dino Morea, Gauahar Khan

Synopsis: Politics in the rarified air of New Delhi is a different beast. It is not for the weak-hearted. It is a byzantine world where there are no straight lines. And nothing is what it seems on the surface. The hijinks politics is the theme of this 9-episode series starring Saif Ali Khan. The ever gorgeous Dimple Kapadia, fresh from her tryst with Christopher Nolan's Tenet, is also in the cast.

The story traverses through the equally murky world of students politics in India. As it has lot of contemporary resonance, you can expect some controversy too. But the makers wanted to make an edgy political thriller. For that they were ready to push the envelope any further.  We look forward to the acting chops of its lead pair, especially Saif Ali Khan, who has become a bit of a star of the OTT platform.

Language: Hindi

Platform: Amazon Prime Video

Release date: January 15, 2021.

Sam Jam show

Director: Arun Seshkumar

Cast: Samantha Akkineni

Synopsis: Sam Jam is a Telugu-language web television talk show hosted by the southern actress Samantha Akkineni. The show is directed by Arun Seshkumar and created by Telugu star Allu Aravind. The show is being streamed since November 2020.

The show is reaching its finale of the first season this Friday. And to make it memorable, the guest is the star Naga Chaitanya, who also happens to be Samanatha's husband. Samantha and Chaitanya, who first met each other on the sets of their debut film Ye Maaya Chesave in 2009, got married in a dreamy destination wedding in Goa in October 2017. 

The husband and wife trolling each other in a good-natured way, released as a snippet from the show, has already won the internet in Telugu speaking areas.

Language: Telugu

Platform: Aha

Release date: January 8, 2021.

Films, series and a talk show. This should keep you engaged and entertained before even bigger movies and shows start streaming for the Pongal/Sankranthi festivals.

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Balakumar K
Senior Editor

Over three decades as a journalist covering current affairs, politics, sports and now technology. Former Editor of News Today, writer of humour columns across publications and a hardcore cricket and cinema enthusiast. He writes about technology trends and suggest movies and shows to watch on OTT platforms.