Despite the wide range of options OTTs offer, catered to your personal preferences, there aren’t too many great Indian shows to choose from that one can enjoy with the entire family in the living room. This is why when SonyLIV came out with the promos for its light-hearted family drama Potluck, we couldn’t help but be excited. And now that we’ve greedily binged the whole of its first season, we can say it out loud - it’s a show well worth the wait.
With a nuanced handling of relatable issues, yet with the lightness one feels during actual family get-togethers, this slice-of-life show can very well be a new milestone in Indian OTT programming. It does not try to emulate anything we've already seen. It carves its own spot and rest assured, it’ll remain in our hearts and minds for a long, long time.
As the name suggests, Potluck is all about people coming together for a meal. In this case, the people are members of the upper-middle class Shastri family, who get together once a week without fail despite all the ups and downs in their respective lives.
The patriarch of the family, Govind Shastri (Jatin Sial) spent most of his life building his career, ending it on a high note as the CEO of the company he worked for. But success has its costs. He wasn’t around too much while his three children were growing up. The show starts with Govind wanting to spend more time with his children and grandchildren, which eventually leads to the weekly potluck. Sial and the rest of the cast’s portrayal of their characters feels so natural, you almost get tricked into thinking that the camera crew just happened to stumble into the lives of not a reel, but a real family.
Govind’s wife, Pramila (played by Kitu Gidwani) is doing her best in treading the fine line between a slightly over-bearing mother and a cool mother-in-law/grandmom. She’s also getting used to Govind being far more involved in the family now that he’s retired. The constant banter between the older couple who clearly love each other, is pure wholesome entertainment. Their older son, Vikrant (Cyrus Sahukar) and his wife Akansha (Ira Dubey) are the modern gender-role defying couple with three young kids, who are at the crucial stage in their lives when adulting really hits you. Finances, future, kids’ education, parents’ health, slightly unfulfilled ambitions, receding hairlines - they are suddenly faced with all of these, and yet, without fail they show up for the potluck every week with a smile on their face. It takes real talent to portray people who are so relatable at so many levels, and the theatre pedigree of these actors clearly shows, as Sahukar and Dubey transform themselves into Vikrant and Akansha.
Vikrant’s more “successful” younger brother Dhruv Harman Singha) and his career-oriented wife Nidhi (Saloni Khanna) are what you’d call a power couple, and honestly speaking, a much refreshing change from the typical couples on Indian television whose primary goal is to spawn kids. The fact that they are successful at work, and voluntarily and unapologetically childless, is one of the many things that makes Potluck what it is - a realistic mirror capturing urban nuclear families.
The youngest of the three siblings is Prerna (Shikha Talsania), a writer who’s decided to move back in with her parents for a while. Her free-spirited independent self suddenly has to deal with the ups and downs of living in the same house as her parents - something many of us can relate to owing to the events of the last two years. We’re not at all surprised by how natural Shikha’s portrayal feels - this woman steals the show in every movie or show she’s in. Prerna is an idealist who’s also trying to navigate the dating game (which in the Indian context is also called “I need to date someone so that parents can stop trying to fix me up with randos” game), and Shikha with her right balance of ‘sensible and yet vulnerable’, absolutely nails it.
One of the high points of the show is how it depicts the reality of most urban, educated families in Tier 1 India. Sure, there’s some westernization that has rubbed off on them, and yet, they are doing their best to retain that sense of togetherness - something that is very Indian. If it were up to him, Govind Shastri 2.0 would have all of them live together, but he knows that all his children deserve to chart their own paths. So the potluck is the middle-ground - the perfect balance of togetherness and independence. And that is where Potluck shines. The banter, the drama, the love - it’s all there, tightly woven into 25-minute episodes. All credit goes to the direction (Rajshree Ojha) and writing (Ashwin Lakshmi Narayan and Gaurav Lulla) here, both of which are so tight. At no point does it feel that by showing how a family lives the writers are trying to shove some ‘message’ down our throats. But one can hope that by normalizing a lot of progressive values, ‘family drama’ can be rebranded. God knows we desperately need it.
All episodes of Potluck are streaming exclusively on SonyLIV from today.