Note: This piece was written by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoonfor Man’s World Magazine in September 2015 and is the third article of a monthly column on international TV.


Will it be Mad Men’s Year?

When the curtains roll down on 2015, it may well be the year when the world bid farewell to two Jons from two cult TV shows. We are still not sure if Jon Snow is gone (by which we mean he’ll totally be back on Game of Thrones) but Jon Hamm has definitely left the building, with Mad Men having ended its seven season run in May this year.

So when the TV industry’s biggest night – the Emmy Awards – takes place on September 20, 2015, all eyes will be on one Jon and only Jon only: Jon Hamm. Nominated twice this year, his 11th and 12th nominations overall (one for Best Actor for Mad Men, and one for Best Guest Actor for The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), if Hamm fails to win the 12th time (he’s been nominated for the 8th time for Mad Men!), these awards will possibly go down as possibly the bigger dampener this year than what happened to the other Jon.

But while we keep our fingers, toes and all else crossed for Hamm, here’s a look at all the big categories this year:


Better Call Saul (BCS)| Downton Abbey |Game of Thrones (GOT) | Homeland | House of Cards (HOC) | Mad Men | Orange Is the New Black (OITNB)
Mad Men, for the perfect send-off.
WILL WIN: Mad Men, unless there’s a deliberate sabotage.
SHOULD’VE BEEN NOMINATED (AT LEAST): The Americans, snubbed for the third time, Sense8 and Manhattan.

Bob Odenkirk (BCS) | Kyle Chandler (Bloodline) | Kevin Spacey (HOC) | Jon Hamm (Mad Men) | Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom) | Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan)
Jon Hamm, all the way!
WILL WIN: Jon Hamm, all the way!
SHOULD’VE BEEN NOMINATED (AT LEAST): Matthew Rhys (The Americans), James Nesbitt (The Missing), Dominic Cooper (The Affair)? Come on, Jeff Daniels again?

Taraji P. Henson (Empire) | Claire Danes (Homeland) | Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder) | Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) | Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) | Robin Wright (HOC)
Tatiana Maslany, for being kickass, or Taraji P. Henson, for being badass.
WILL WIN: Viola Davis, for clout, or Elisabeth Moss, for sentimentality.
SHOULD’VE BEEN NOMINATED (AT LEAST): Keri Russels (The Americans)… sigh. And Hayley Atwell for the sassy Agent Carter.

Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey) | Lena Headey (GOT) | Emilia Clarke (GOT) | Christine Baranski (The Good Wife) | Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) | Uzo Aduba (OITNB)
Lena Headey, for the walk of shame in *that* episode.
WILL WIN: Christina Hendricks, because it is time.
SHOULD’VE BEEN NOMINATED (AT LEAST): Vera Fermiga (Bates Motel), who cannot possibly do more.

Jonathan Banks (BCS) | Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline) | Jim Carter (Downton Abbey) | Peter Dinklage (GOT) | Alan Cumming (The Good Wife) | Michael Kelly (HOC)
Jonathan Banks, because he deserves it from Breaking Bad days.
WILL WIN: Peter Dinklage, because everyone else is too new.
SHOULD’VE BEEN NOMINATED (AT LEAST): Mads Mikkelsen aka Dr. Hannibal Lecter is probably getting furious, but quietly.


Louie | Modern Family | Parks and Recreation | Silicon Valley | Transparent | Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt | Veep
Parks and Recreations, for respect, although Silicon Valley was funnier this season.
WILL WIN: Veep, because Transparent is too acclaimed for the Emmys.
SHOULD’VE BEEN NOMINATED (AT LEAST): Jane The Virgin, at the least, because About a Boy and You’re The Worst never even stood a chance.


Anthony Anderson (Black-ish) | Matt LeBlanc (Episodes) | Don Cheadle (House of Lies) | Louis C.K. (Louie) | William H. Macy (Shameless) | Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) | Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent)
Will Forte, for being ROFL funny.
WILL WIN: Jeffrey Tambor, because no one from Modern Family is nominated.
SHOULD’VE BEEN NOMINATED (AT LEAST): Randall Park (Fresh Off The Boat), Chris Geere (You’re The Worst) and Mark Duplass (Togetherness) really deserved shoo-ins.

Lisa Kudrow (The Comeback) | Lily Tomlin (Grace And Frankie) | Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer) | Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) | Amy Poehler (Parks And Recreation) | Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Amy Poehler, really now. It’s been seven years.
WILL WIN: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, although Amy Schumer could really ride on her Trainwreck wave.
SHOULD’VE BEEN NOMINATED (AT LEAST): Golden Globe Winner Gina Rodriguez for Jane The Virgin, to begin with! Plus Minnie Driver (About a Boy), Aya Cash (You’re The Worst) and Melanie Lynskey (Togetherness).

Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory) | Julie Bowen (Modern Family) | Anna Chlumsky (Veep) | Gaby Hoffman (Transparent) | Allison Janey (Mom) | Jane Krakowski (UKS) | Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live | Niecy Nash (Getting On)
Anna Chlumsky has a win long due now.
WILL WIN: Allison Janey because six Emmy wins are not enough.
SHOULD’VE BEEN NOMINATED (AT LEAST): Kether Donohue (You’Re The Worst), Jenny Slate (Married) and Amanda Peet (Togetherness).

Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) | Adam Driver (Girls) | Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele) | Ty Burrell (Modern Family) | Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) | Tony Hale (Veep)
Keegan-Michael Key, anyday.
WILL WIN: Ty Burrell because Emmys can’t see beyond Modern Family.
SHOULD’VE BEEN NOMINATED (AT LEAST): Steve Zissis (Togetherness), Desmin Borges (You’re The Worst) and everyone on Silicon Valley.

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Liked/disliked the piece? Think there are more great shows that I’ve not covered? Leave your comments below 🙂
Note: This piece first appeared in Man’s World Magazine in the September 2015 issue.
Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.


The 20 Best TV Shows of 2015 So Far #TV #COLUMN #MANSWORLD

Note: This piece was written by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoon) for Man’s World Magazine in August 2015 and is the second article of a monthly column on international TV.


Half the year’s over and if anyone was keeping track of the war between the big and small screens, a decisive winner has finally emerged: Where cinema is rehashing formulae or making sequels of everything that’s worked, television has whooped it’s ass with the most creative, original and cinematic storytelling, propelled with charismatic stars at its helm.  TV has won over movies in 2015 so far, and here are the 20 shows that have made the feat possible:


the americans season 3The Americans –Three seasons in, The Americans curiously continues to be critically lauded as the best show on TV, and yet stays utterly under the radar, quite like the undercover Russian spy family in Cold War America in the series. Watch this for sure, if only for the gorgeous Indian-origin Annet Mahendru and Rahul Khanna’s super cameo.

the jinxThe Jinx – This year’s ‘The Serial’ in terms of pop culture impact as well as for the fact that it is a non-fiction documentary about an alleged murdered (who happens to be multi-millionaire Robert Durst), which may have a bearing on the actual court case.

better call saulBetter Call Saul – It may be because we so love Saul Goodman and Mike Ehrmantraut or because Vince Gilligan has cultivated a team of the greatest drama writers ever, but either way, Better Call Saul, a prequel to Gilligan’s Breaking Bad and featuring the duo from the show, is brilliant TV.

bates motel season 3Bates Motel – Before Wayward Pines came along and swiftly took up the mantle of a modern day Twin Peaks, there was – and is – Bates Motel, the origin story of Pyscho’s Norman Bates, which is just as creepy, atmospheric and unpredictable in tone and as good in writing.

mad men season 8Mad Men – We may not ever be fully able to measure the impact of Mad Men on what we wear, but the series finale had a singular impact on what we think: a thousand think pieces proclaimed it as amongst the best-written. Don Draper’s gone but we are not Lost looking for resolution.

agent carterAgent Carter – Yes, Agent Carter is the best Marvel TV show of the year, over Netflix’s much-talked about and deservedly acclaimed Daredevil. Because where Daredevil is tonally reminiscent to Christopher Nolan’s gritty Dark Knight trilogy, Agent Carter is a wholly original and refreshingly sassy hero, who is, for once, a heroine.

sense8Sense 8 – Andy and Lana Wachowski may have pulled off what is truly the world’s first global TV series. Spanning four continents and shot across eight countries, with starring characters from each, there is no show better poised at addressing questions about identity than this sci-fi series.

fortitudeFortitude – A fantastic cast (Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon, Sofie Grabol) in a fantastic locale (the unexplored arctic vastness of Scandinavia) with fantastic writing makes for a one-of-its-kind psychological thriller.

– Can a soapy drama also be really good TV? Can a hip hop musical have enough of a story? Can a show with an entirely black cast break through the mainstream? Empire has answered all these and many more questions with a resounding ‘YES!’

game of thrones season 5Game of Thrones – Because you probably live under a rock if you’ve still not watched Game of Thrones and because no TV show in history has sent global fandom into a tizzy with a reel life death.



about a boy seaosn 2About a Boy – An entirely unmissable show went entirely missed by pop culture as a whole. About a Boy was a small comedy with a huge heart, and had a great cast (including Minnie Driver) deliver several laughs and a few tears too. Cancelled too soon, the show was better than the movie.

last manThe Last Man on Earth – Chris Miller and Phil Lord are the guys behind 21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie and are helming a Han Solo movie next. Before that happens, they teamed up with Will Forte to create the funniest and most original comedy of the year about the adventures of the last man on earth. Forte is nominated for an Emmy, and you’ll know why.

broad cityBroad City – Much like The Americans, Broad City has managed to stay under the radar of award shows, giving way to its spiritual cousin Girls, but unlike it, the show enjoys the kind of cult fan following Inside Amy Schumer did before Schumer broke out. Soon enough, this will too.

togethernessTogetherness – The Duplass Brothers have been carrying the torch of mumblecore indie dramedies for a while now. Togetherness, their HBO take on dysfunctional relationships, is the most mainstream their indie efforts have gotten, and a second season’s already on the way.

Jane The Virgin -- Key Art -- Credit: © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

Jane The Virgin – A romcom satirizing Latin telenovelas, and featuring a cast of unknowns, managed to win its lead actress, Gina Rodriguez, a Golden Globe, and for good reason: with the unique backdrop of a kooky Latin family, the laughs are as big as they are fresh.

silicon valley season 2Silicon Valley – If you thought HBO recently paid tribute to Entourage with the new Mark Wahlberg produced NFL comedy Ballers, you’d have completely missed the fact that Silicon Valley is actually Entourage for Geeks. The success of the hilarious show also proves that the geeks have, in fact, inherited the earth.

big timeBig Time in Hollywood, FL – If Fargo was a stoner comedy – yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like – the result may have been this series. The hilarious black comedy about two halfwit brothers trying to make a movie has laughs, blood, twists, and cameos from Ben Stiller and Cuba Gooding Jr too.

last week tonightLast Week Tonight with John Oliver – Even Jon Stewart, John Oliver’s erstwhile mentor at The Daily Show, did not possibly have as much a real-world impact and as quickly as Oliver’s had. His hilarious but well-informed rants have already changed legislations, and it may not be long before they change outlooks too.

PrintHappyish – The most cynical, anti-consumerist, anti-technology and anti-people show of the year may also be its most profound. Originally starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, it’s got Steve Coogan at its reigns now, as a disillusioned creative director of an ad firm, who calls bullsh*t to the pursuit of happy-ish-ness.

unbreakable kimmy schmidtUnbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Netflix did not choose this series as its first sitcom merely because it is Tina Fey’s sophomore TV comedy as creator, but also because it’s equal parts heartwarming and equal parts mental and has a winning lead in Ellie Kemper, who may just be the next Fey.


Follow the blog on your left and like The Tanejamainhoon Page on FB: /tanejamainhoonpage
Follow Nikhil Taneja on FB: /tanejamainhoonon Twitter:

@tanejamainhoonon Instagram:@tanejamainhoon,
on Youtube: /tanejamainhoon

Liked/disliked the piece? Think there are more great shows that I’ve not covered? Leave your comments below 🙂
Note: This piece first appeared in Man’s World Magazine in the August 2015 issue.
Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.


Note: This piece was written by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoon) in September 2015 for The Juice. An edited version of the piece can be found here: http://goo.gl/i4Utf8

The 30 upcoming new shows that you need to know about (and some, you really don’t)

By the time this issue is out, the greatest mystery in True Detective would finally be revealed: that of the missing plot. So we’d either find out if it was an all-out True Disaster or just a mild True Disappointment (because the time for it to be Truly Dazzling is long gone).

But even with the most buzzed show of the year turning out to be a True Dud (we can’t control ourselves!), it’s still been a good year for television already, with new shows like Agent Carter, Better Call Saul, Daredevil, Fortitude, Mr. Robot, Sense8, Togetherness, and Wayward Pines, among others, proving to be stellar critical successes… and it’s not even fall yet.

And when fall TV season – where networks unveil a blitzkrieg of new programming – finally does arrive September-end, there will be over 30 new shows to sample, and just like in Game of Thrones, they will either win or die.

Since TV-viewing is a sacred and intensely personal activity and we don’t want you to choose the wrong shows and live to regret it, we’ve sorted your to-watch list for the rest of the year. So here’s a handy primer of the good (fresh, unique, original shows), the fad (shows that builds on or starts a trend and can go either way) and the ugly (lazy shows that will be cancelled before you ask ‘Why?’) of upcoming TV shows you need to know about, and some, you really don’t.


  1. Angel from Hell (Nov. 5): Anything featuring Jane Lynch in supporting roles is worth watching, so a series with her in the lead will probably be awesome too. In Angel from Hell, Lynch stars as a woman’s borderline crazy ‘guardian angel’. Lynch and crazy sounds just about right.
  2. Ash Vs The Evil Dead (Oct. 31): Big laughs. Beautiful Gore. Creator Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell. The Evil Dead series is brought to TV in its original glory by the same team, and WE. CAN’T. WAIT.
  3. Blindspot (Sep. 21): A slick trailer promising an action thriller starring filmstars, Jaimie ‘Sif’ Alexander (Thor) as a mysterious naked, tattooed woman with no memory and Sullivan Stapleton (300: Rise of an Empire) as an FBI agent trying to find out why, but on TV!
  4. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Oct. 19): A musical romcom about a ‘crazy ex-girlfriend’ by the director of (500) Days of Summer, Marc Webb, and the writer of 27 Dresses and Devil Wears Prada, Aline Brosh McKenna. This could be the rom-com of the year.
  5. Colony: Alert: Lost’s Josh ‘Sawyer’ Holloway is back! In a show by Lost co-creator, Carlton Cuse! The show is about a family trying to survive in a colony set in future LA but does that even matter? #SawyerForever
  6. Grandfathered (Sep. 21): Every two years, John Stamos (Full House’s Uncle Jesse), is back with a new show and that old school charm, only to be cancelled. This show could be different: he still plays an eligible bachelor, but this time, finds out he’s got a granddaughter.
  7. Into The Badlands (Nov. 15): The producers of Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained and the writers of Spider-Man 2 and Lethal Weapon 4 bring a martial arts action series about ‘the badlands’ where ‘there is no God’. It had us at ‘Pulp’.
  8. Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Nov. 20): Easily the most awaited show of the rest of the year. After the fantastic Daredevil, Jessica Jones is the second Netflix-Marvel superhero series. Starring Krysten Ritter, it promises to be all kinds of badass.
  9. Master of None (Nov. 6): Stand up sensation Aziz Ansari gets his own fiction show about the life of a 30-year-old New Yorker, Dev, who constantly fails at navigating life. This should be equal parts hilarious and equal parts genius.
  10. Moonbeam City (Sep. 16): The voices of – wait for it – Rob Lowe, Elizabeth Banks, Will Forte and Kate Mara come together in an animated series parodying ‘80s cop shows. Yippee-Ki-Yay!
  11. Narcos (Aug. 28): Bonafide legend, Pedro Pascal, who lived and died as Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones, is back in a crime drama about drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, created by the Brazilian director behind the Elite Squad series, Jose Padilha.
  12. Quantico (Sep. 27): Priyanka Chopra is the lead in an American TV show! Yes, the trailer of the show about a group of young FBI agents, wasn’t sparkling, but it’s got good buzz, and stars our own, so we’ll be giving it a legit chance.
  13. The Bastard Executioner (Sep. 15): Kurt Stutter, the creator of The Shield and Sons of Anarchy, is back on FX, this time with a series about a, well, ‘bastard executioner, set in 14th century England, and starring True Blood’s Stephen Moyer in lead. This has us salivating already.
  14. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Sep. 28): Comedian Jon Stewart hosted The Daily Show for 16 years and made it cult. As Stewart exits this year, all eyes are on 31-year-old South African comedian, Trevor Noah, who will take up his mantle.
  15. The Grinder (Sep. 29): Rob Lowe starred in three TV pilots in 2015, and all three got picked up. He’s been replaced in one, Moonbeam City has his voice, but The Grinder is the show to watch out for. A legal drama co-starring another ‘80s star, Fred Savage (Kevin from The Wonder Years), this is a surefire hit.


  1. Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris (Sep. 15): A variety show that probably came out of the question, ‘Can we make a show where everything Neil Patrick Harris does separately, he will do all at once?’ This one should be a crowd pleaser.
  2. Dr. Ken (Oct. 2): Ken Jeong or Mr. Chow of The Hangover series, gets his own sitcom, where he plays… a physician. Another one in an assembly line of dysfunctional family sitcoms, this comes equipped with a laugh track and may just need it.
  3. Heroes Reborn (Sep. 24): When it first launched, Heroes was a one of its kind show, with heavy VFX and lots of superpowers, but today, there are superheroes being born everywhere. Jack Coleman, Masi Oka and Sendhil Ramamurthy return, and Zachary ‘Chuck’ Levi (not Quinto) star. Like the heroes at its helm, can the show survive?
  4. Life in Pieces (Nov. 5): A show about a large family where every episode tackles stories of the sub-families. Yes, this is exactly like Modern Family, but with a twist: everyone is white and straight. The only thing unique here is an interesting cast led by Colin Hanks.
  5. Limitless (Sep. 22): The slickest looking trailer of all upcoming shows is the TV adaptation of the 2011 Bradley Cooper movie, with Cooper guest starring and exec. producing too. As long as the show doesn’t fall into the trap of a procedural, this could be huge.
  6. Minority Report (Sep. 21): Another adaptation of another sci-fi action thriller, with Steven Spielberg is exec. producing and Godzilla writer Max Borenstein is developing, there is cause to be excited. The procedural trap looms large again.
  7. Scream Queens (Sep. 22): Full marks to Ryan Murphy for the sheer genius that is the concept of the show. Murphy, the creator of hits Glee and American Horror Story, has mashed up the two as Scream Queens, a teen horror comedy. Starring a *very* impressive cast in Emma Roberts, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lea Michele, Nick Jonas, Ariana Grande and more, this is a certain smash hit.
  8. Supergirl (Oct. 26): Two men are at the center of the DC Comics’ TV universe: Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, the duo behind Arrow, Flash and now, Supergirl. The trailer of the show was mocked because a Saturday Night Sketch had previously predicted a female superhero film/series to be a chick flick, but a leaked first episode proves it’s not all kryptonite yet.
  9. The Muppets (Sep. 22): 17 years after they last appeared on TV, The Muppets are back with The Big Bang Theory co-creator Bill Prady behind it. The two hit Muppet movies over the last few years definitely helped too, and the show format – a mockumentary – promises old fun in the perfect new way.
  10. The Player (Sep. 24): The producers of The Blacklist bring another crime thriller with another former movie star (Wesley Snipes) as a smart and powerful antagonist stopping crimes every episode. Another potential hit? Maybe.


  1. Chicago Med (Sep. 30) – A spinoff of Chicago Fire, this is another show about a group of doctors trying to save the day, but in Chicago.
  2. Code Black (Sep. 30) – An adaptation of a documentary, this is another show about a group of doctors trying to save the day, but in Los Angeles.
  3. Rosewood ­(Sep. 23)­– An original show, this is a show about a group of law enforcement officers trying to save the day, by collaborating with a genius doctor.
  4. Truth be Told ­(Oct. 16) – From DJ Nash, the writer behind Traffic Light, Bent, Up All Night, Guys with Kids and Growing Up Fischer – all shows that were cancelled in one season, comes a show about two married couples that will probably suffer the same fate.
  5. The Carmichael Show (Aug. 5) – Last year, a failed sitcom, Mulaney, fictionalized the life of stand-up comic John Mulaney. This year, a sitcom, The Carmichael Show, fictionalizes the life of stand-up comic Jerrod Carmichael. Doomed to fail?

BONUS: Must-Watch Returning Shows

Most of the new shows launch September-end, so here are fantastic one-season old shows to catch up on as they return with fresh programming:

  1. Empire – Hip Hop ‘gangsta’ family drama (Sep 23).
  2. Fargo – Anthology crime drama (Oct 12).
  3. Jane The Virgin – Spanish telenovela romcom satire (Oct 19).
  4. Gotham – Batman prequel crime drama (Sep 21).
  5. Manhattan – Atomic bomb creation period drama (Oct 13).
  6. The Affair – Romantic mystery drama (Oct 4).
  7. The Flash – Origin story of DC Comic’s The Flash (Oct 6).
  8. The Last Man on Earth – End of the world apocalypse comedy (Sep 27).
  9. The Leftovers – Lost creator’s mystery drama (Oct 4).
  10. You’re The Worst – Anti romcom comedy (Sep 9).

Follow the blog on your left and like The Tanejamainhoon Page on FB: /tanejamainhoonpage
Follow Nikhil Taneja on FB: /tanejamainhoonon Twitter:
@tanejamainhoonon Instagram:@tanejamainhoon,
on Youtube: /tanejamainhoon

Liked/disliked the piece? Think there are more shows like Entourage that I’ve not covered? Leave your comments below 🙂
Note: This piece first appeared in The Juice in the August 2015 issue.
Link: http://www.jabong.com/magazine/#mybook/54
Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.


Note: This review was written by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoon) for Huffington Post in July 2015.

Masaan and the Idea of India

The idea of India has always been fascinating to me. Because, to me, India is – and always has been – more a utopian idea of what a country can and should be, whereas the reality has gotten rather lost in translation. Think about it: India is probably the only country in the world where there is not a single thread that unites every man, woman and child. Be it caste, colour, community, religion, language, race, or ideology, the people of India indeed have nothing in common with each other. It’s often said that Bollywood and cricket are the only two things that unite the country, but Bollywood stops being relevant beyond the Hindi-speaking regions, and cricket’s days of glory effectively retired with Sachin Tendulkar.

This seemingly disjointed modern India may not be easy to classify in any of the traditional ways, but that is because it is an India that is trying to break out of such classifications. The truth is, there is no one idea of India and perhaps no one India either; India is remarkable because there are several Indias within the idea tussling with each other, and within themselves, to stride through the remainder of the 21st century with some core belief system.

In this tussle, this struggle, lies a deep-rooted ambition, within the cities, towns, villages and all of its varied and diverse people and culture, to define themselves and to find meaning, which has been aided largely by the technological revolution that is still seeping in its every nook and corner, possibly not fast enough. YouTube has invigorated the young, Facebook has helped them learn free will, while Google has been their guide in navigating life, love and lust.

This is the complicated backdrop and landscape that Masaan, a film by debutant director Neeraj Ghaywan, is set in, and the layered protagonists of the film traverse through its various complexities. Winner of two Cannes awards, including the FIPRESCI Prize, given by an international federation of film critics, Masaan is a tale of two Benarases, both weighed down by its heritage and both trying to escape it by any means.

There is one story about Devi (Richa Chadda), who, as a liberated young woman, has pre-marital sex with a fellow student, only to be caught by the traditionalist police and blackmailed into shame. The second is a love story of a young couple, Deepak (Vicky Kaushal) and Shaalu (Shweta Tiwari), belonging to different castes, and hoping to surmount the barriers presented by it.

In both stories, technology is an accomplice in seeking progress, and by sharp contrast, in one, it is a weapon used to threaten conformity too. Both stories are also driven by the ambitions of the protagonists to not be held prisoner to the milieu, conditions and the masaans (crematorium) they are born into, and that are born out of them. But reducing the stories to themes and metaphors would be doing a disservice to the soul that runs through them and the love, loss and longing that they so beautifully capture in the quiet chaos of the ghaats of Benaras.

Ghaywan, in his very first film, creates a deeply affecting world that devastates and uplifts at the same time, and that becomes a part of your world long after the film is over. The deftness with which he captures emotions of hope and young love (in the romance of Deepak and Shaalu), prejudices and old mores (in the relationship between Devi’s father and the inspector that blackmails them), aspiration and rebellion (through Devi) and death (in the stunning scene between Deepak and his friends), deserves much lauding. He has been proficiently supported by a wonderful script and heartfelt dialogues by the inimitable Varun Grover, through the earnest lens of Avinash Arun, who recently debuted as a director himself with the fine Killa, and the moving music by Indian Ocean, whom we cannot get enough of.

But the film’s true winner are the fantastic performances that Ghaywan has extracted from its lead cast. From a poignant and memorable Vicky Kaushal and the endearing warmth of Shweta Tripathi (both of whom have huge things ahead of them) to the intricate depth of emotions that Sanjay Mishra (who is clearly on the path of being a legend) as Devi’s father brings, to the confident, tender and touching performance of Richa Chadda that the film is anchored by, to the striking cameos by Pankaj Tripathi, Bhagwan Tiwari and Nikhil Sahni, Masaan is a masterclass in acting.

This is another winner by Phantom Films and Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment and as good a beginning as any by Manish Mundra’s Drishyam Films that, much like the film, is to be watched out for. An Indo-French production, if Masaan is (deservedly) successful at the box office, it may also help get further international funding to tell more such stories about the heart of what makes modern India. But these are not the reasons you must watch Masaan for.

Masaan deserves to be watched because it a rare film that holds a mirror to that deep-rooted ambition that runs through the pulse of this modern India: to break out of the boxes it’s been holed into, to overcome the circumstances it was born into, to rise above the demarcations that were set in its outdated texts and its archaic traditions, and to have the liberty and choice to be whatever and whoever it needs to be… to not just live, but to truly be alive.
Agree/disagree with the review? Leave your thoughts in the comments below 🙂
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Note: This piece first appeared in The Huffington Post on July 25
Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.in/nikhil-taneja-/masaan-review-a-fine-film_b_7869922.html
Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

The Big Summer TV Preview 2015 #TV #COLUMN #MANSWORLD

Note: This piece was written by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoon) for Man’s World Magazine in July 2015 and is the first article of a monthly column on international TV.

Usually, the time to plonk yourself on your couch opposite your idiot box (or your laptop) for endless hours is an yearly event called ‘Fall TV’, when every American channel puts up tons of brand new programming for your viewing pleasure. But with the rise of premium cable channels like HBO and showtime, as well as streaming media like Netflix and Amazon, summer time, which was typically reserved for blockbuster cinema, out of respect and some fear, has now become the most fun time for TV addicts, with ‘Summer TV’ being the breeding ground for some of the most amazing original series we’ve seen over the last few years.

Summer TV has given us Mad Men, True Detective, Fargo, Orange is the New Black, and many other cult shows in the past. This year has already thrown up interesting shows in the form of Lana and Andy Wachowski’s sci-fi drama Sense8 and Manoj N. Shyamalan’s twisted suspense drama, Wayward Pines. 2015 promises several other contenders for what could turn out to be the best of this year’s original content.

Here are the NEW SHOWS to watch out for:

Survivor's RemorseBallers – Missing Entourage much? HBO’s giving us the next ‘show for bros’ to get addicted to, and it’s new (a comedy about professional footballers) and improved (stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as a high profile agent – Ari Gold, anyone?) and yet will probably be more of the same old awesome (created by Entourage EP Steve Levinson & produced by Mark Wahlberg).

fear the walking dead

Fear The Walking Dead – If The Walking Dead hasn’t served up enough zombies for your liking so far, a spin-off set in Los Angeles that revolves around the outbreak of the zombie apocalypse, will ensure year-long horror only for you.

wet hot american summerWet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp – 15 years after Wet Hot American Summer became an underground hit, Netflix has rebooted the movie into an 8-part prequel So 35+ stars Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks and more play younger versions of their 2001 movie’s characters.

the brink
The Brink
– Jack Black’s been missing from action for a while now but his career is set for an HBO injection. The Brink brings Black with Tim Robbins and Pablo Scheiber as goofy American diplomats in Pakistan who find themselves in the middle of a military coup and an impending nuke war. Sound like fun?

blunt talkBlunt Talk – Sir Patrick Stewart heads to American TV as a coke-snorting nightly Brit news anchor who joins American cable news to guide the country on how to live. The 10-part half-hour comedy is produced by Seth MacFarlane but it had us at Sir Patrick.


– Another British legend, Sir Ben Kingsley stars as the top advisor to Avan Jogia’s titular legendary Egyptian King Tutankhamun, in a limited six-part series about the rise of a young boy king into one of the most powerful leaders in human history.

Deutschland 83Deutschland 83 – ‘A coming of age spy darkly comic spy thriller set against the backdrop of the East and West German rivalry in the ‘80s’ is possibly the most curious logline of the summer. And with a young protagonist forced to be a reluctant spy at the height of the cold war era, this series could be the year’s breakout hit.

Here are some of the RETURNING SHOWS you *cannot* miss:

True DetectiveTrue Detective – If you thought HBO and creator Nic Pizzolatto couldn’t top last year’s McConaissance, they’ve got Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Taylor Kitsch and Rachel McAdams to frontline season 2. Expect more darkness.

OITNBOrange is the New Black
– The girls are back and according to creator Jenji Kohan, season 3’s theme is ‘faith and motherhood’. Expect less Jason Biggs’s Larry and more Laura Prepon’s Alex. There’s also a new potential fan-favourite in Ruby Rose. To know why, google her.

masters of sex season 3Masters of Sex
– Disclaimer: Not porn. In fact, the Martin Sheen-Lizzy Caplan show possibly has less gratuitous sex than Game of Thrones. About two pioneering researchers of human sexuality, the underrated drama explores sex in a way you’ve never seen before.

hannibal season 3
– Hannibal is the origin story of the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lecter, explored through his friendship with FBI investigator Will Graham. Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy star, season 3 additionally stars Gillian Anderson and Richard Armitage. Do you really need to know more?

rectify season 3Rectify – Another drama you’ve not been watching but most definitely should, Rectify is the most beautiful and gut-wrenching show you’ll see about the exploration of morality. About a man who is released after 20 years on death row, this show is pure, unadulterated drama.


You’re The Worst – An exceedingly enjoyable and exceptionally toxic take on love, relationships and everything that the heart holds sacred. An anti-romcom, if Satan’s minions had to fall in love, the characters of this show would fit right in. Much fun guaranteed.

manhattans02Manhattan – This could be the breakout season for last year’s best new show that few saw. Manhattan is Shakespearean drama in the garb of a series about the invention of the atomic bomb. With the stakes that high and the consequences knows only too well to us, watch this to have bragging rights before the rest of the world discovers it.

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Liked/disliked the piece? Think there are more great shows that I’ve not covered? Leave your comments below 🙂
Note: This piece first appeared in Man’s World Magazine in the July 2015 issue.
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© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.