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Inside Netflix’s Indian Gambit


One afternoon before the pandemic, I went to a decommissioned hospital in West London to meet the Hindi film director Anurag Kashyap on the set of his new Netflix production. The old maternity unit where he was filming had never been entirely cleared out. Members of his crew, recently arrived from Mumbai, were maneuvering around vestigial baby cots and gurneys. As an assistant director shouted out instructions in Hindi and English, Kashyap had a word with his lead actress, who was lying supine on a bed in a blue hospital gown. The actress, a former model with hooded eyes and high cheekbones, nodded without changing her position. Then, just as unobtrusively, Kashyap made his way behind the monitor.

Kashyap has developed a cult following in India since his first Hindi film, Paanch (Five), was banned for extreme violence in 2003. He has written, directed, and produced dozens of films for Bollywood. When Netflix launched in India in 2016, it hired Kashyap to co-direct its first original series, Sacred Games , about an underworld don in Mumbai who ensnares an upright police officer. As soon as Season 1 landed, it was obvious that the platform had a superhit on its hands.

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