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10 Youth Shows You Must Watch On OTT

December 05, 2023 10:44 IST
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Ever so often, when cop-and-gangster shows or family drama on OTT start getting audiences restless, streaming platforms trot out 'youth' content, to lasso back the wandering teen and young adult demographic.

These shows, many of which have been produced by The Viral Fever (early movers in the streaming world) are mostly puppy romances but once in a while, they take a serious look at issues that affect the young.

There are other series set in schools, with an even younger target group, or maybe their concerned parents, who want to know what their kids might be up to by watching what pre-teen kids might get up to when they are away from home.

Many actors who made their debuts in these teen shows are now OTT stars.

As the Indian version of The Archies gets ready to hit OTT, Deepa Gahlot picks 10 interesting college-and-youth-oriented shows on OTT.


Flames (2018)
Where to watch? Amazon Prime Video

This young romance produced by TVF and directed by Apoorv Singh Karki and Divyanshu Malhotra, stars Ritvik Sahore and Tanya Maniktala, studying at a coaching centre in Delhi.

The title comes from the romance game on paper, back in the days of innocence.

Rajjo and Ishita's friendship transforms to love and all the hassles that come with it, when they also have to prepare for exams and worry about their future.

It's the kind of emotional trajectory almost every kid must go through as a rite of passage.


College Romance (2018)
Where to watch? SonyLIV

Created and developed by TVF Founder Arunabh Kumar, this fluffy show is exactly what the title says: A bunch of college students hanging out with pals, falling in love, and hardly ever cracking open a textbook.

Over three seasons of the show, good actors were seen in a youth show, like Gagan Arora, Apoorva Arora, Manjot Singh and Shreya Mehta.

After the success of the first season on TVFPlay and YouTube, the next two seasons of the series moved to SonyLIV.

The show is light, no real problems, teen angst or tragedy, till much later when a leaked video causes some grief, tests the group's progressive thinking or lack thereof, and makes way for a Season 4.


Kota Factory (2019)
Where to watch? Netflix

As student suicides continue to make news, this show produced by TVF, created by Saurabh Khanna and directed by Raghav Subbu, took a serious and engaging look at the coaching class hub in the small town of Kota in Rajasthan, where students converge from all over the country to prepare for the highly competitive entrance exams for engineering and medial courses.

Fear of failure and the pressure of their middle class parents; hopes for their future, creates a pressure cooker environment that often pushes kids over the edge.

The series follows 16-year-old Vaibhav (Mayur More), his interactions with other students, hostel mates and teachers.

Kota Factory, which led actor Jitendra Kumar to stardom, was first streamed on YouTube and TVFPlay and became such a hit that Netflix took over the second season.


Hostel Daze (2019)
Where to watch? Amazon Prime Video

Created by Saurabh Khanna, this TVF comedy-drama miniseries ran to four seasons.

The premise was simple: It followed the journey of three hostel friends in their first year of engineering college.

Starring Nikhil Vikay, Adarsh Gourav, Shubham Gaur and Ahsas Channna, the show was a lighthearted look at what goes on in hostel rooms, and also included romance, heartbreak, squabbles, teasing, and everything that makes up those days, trying to make a home away from home and also going a bit bonkers without the family watching over everything.

A bit risqué, but also feel good and forgettable after the nostalgia-inducing shenanigans of the students.


Aspirants (2021)
Where to watch? Amazon Prime Video

The aspirants of the title of this TVF show, created by Arunabh Kumar and Shreyansh Pandey, and directed by Apoorv Singh Karki, are three friends preparing for the UPSC exams in Delhi.

The series that started streaming on TVFPlay, moved to Amazon Prime Video.

It stars Naveen Kasturia, Shivankit Parihar, Abhilash Thapliyal, Namita Dubey and Sunny Hinduja and charts the highs and lows in the lives of the characters, their struggles, emotional turmoil and relationships with one another and those around them.

The plot is more or less the same as every such coming-of-age show but the writing and performances elevate it.


Shiksha Mandal (2022)
Where to watch? MxPlayer

Directed by Syed Ahmad Afzal from a script by a large team of writers, the nine-part show is set in Bhopal and Indore and focuses on medical entrance test scams, run by an unscrupulous coaching class owner in cahoots with gangster and tabela-owner Dhansu Yadav (Pavan Raj Malhotra).

The Bhopali don has senior cops, bureaucrats and politicians on his payroll.

The good Jeetu Bhaiya (from Kota Factory) kind of teacher is Aditya Rai (Gulshan Devaiah), who has pep talks ready for nervous students.

The gangsters organise everything from proxies to write exams (this from real-life incidents), using bribes, kidnapping and blackmail to force brilliant students to appear in place of the dunces, to leaking papers, and for a big enough fee, sneak exam sheets out and get them replaced with corrected papers.

The show adds cops and crime to the education scam plot to heighten the drama, not always with effective results.


Crash Course (2022)
Where to watch? Amazon Prime Video

Another Kota Factory wannabe, about the coaching class mafia in small towns, this one directed by actor-writer Vijay Maurya, from a script by Manish Hariprasad and Raina Roy, treads familiar ground but is elevated by the performance of Annu Kapoor as Ratanraj Jindal, who hopes to take over the business of education in Kota and rename the town after himself.

Among the crowd of kids is Vidhi Gupta (Anushka Kaushik) as the girl who becomes a bone of contention between Jindal and his closest rival, Shashank Batra (Siddharth Kak).

The series did capture the greed of people taking advantage of the vulnerability of students and desperation of parents but with much more melodrama than the always realistic Kota Factory.


Girls Hostel (2022)
Where to watch? SonyLIV

The first season of this series, brought with it the freshness of a bright young cast, and the novel idea of setting it in a girls' hostel, where students of a dental college stay.

By the third season too, the show existed mostly in a parent-free vacuum, focusing on the rivalry between rich girl Ramya Mantri (Shreya Mehta) and Zahira Ali (Parul Gulati) over the presidency of the student council of SVM College was already established in previous seasons, as was the corruption and meanness of the dean Dr Sarla Desai (Jayati Bhatia).

In Season 3, directed by Hanish D Kalia, created by Shreyasi Sharma, the gender fluidity of Vipassana (Tanvi Lehr Sonigra) gets some attention.

It is carried by the talent of the cast, otherwise the show would be lost in the crowd of better youth-based content.


Mismatched (2022)
Where to watch? Netflix

Mismatched, based on Sandhya Menon's book When Dimple Met Rishi, had youngsters from different backgrounds congregate in the Aravalli Institute in Jaipur, where they learn coding, computer programming and make saleable apps.

Directed by Akarsh Khurana, with a fresh and enthusiastic cast, the series revolved around romantic entanglements between middle class Dimple (Prajakta Koli) and Jaipur aristocrat Rishi (Rohit Saraf).

They were surrounded by the usual group of teens who dutifully show up on every campus, only this one is not a swotting factory, but a nerdy-geeky-creative place.

Season 2 does not really add much to all the romance, heartbreak, sexual confusion that was already dealt with in the first season, it's just that the milieu is a bit different from the usual campus shows, and the tech talk would be more relatable to today's youngsters.


Gutar Gu (2023)
Where to watch? Amazon MiniTV

Set in Bhopal, the six-part series created and directed by Saqib Pandor (produced by Guneet Monga and Achin Jain), is the very ordinary love story of Ritu (Ashlesha Thakur) and Anuj (Vishesh Bansal) which stands out because of its sweet simplicity.

The boys of the Hindi medium Bhojnagri School do not even dream of talking to the girls of the posh co-ed Paul Williams.

Ritu, whose family has just relocated from Gurugram, unselfconsciously chats with Anuj at the coaching class they attend, and he is immediately smitten.

The two have to figure out how to overcome their differences, and also how to keep the relationship going with life is pulling them in different directions.

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