Desi Talk – that’s all you need to know 26 ENTERTAINMENT May 26, 2023 Dahaad Is An Exemplary Crime Series Sanya Malhotra Excels In Kathal, A Delightfully Sharp, Social Satire W hen I use a term as decisive as “exemplary”, I must explain why I do so. As pure crime dramas, whether on big-screen or web, there are very few that fall into this category, and Dahaad ranks among the rare gems we have seen that are beyond the hyped ones like the same company’s Mirzapur, Paatal Lok and the likes. I would straightaway place Dahaad (which means ‘the roar’) in the crème-de-la- crème league of dramas like Criminal Jus- tice 2, Apharan and Aashram (strictly the first seasons only), Mithya, the Undekhi and Aarya franchises, Human, Bichhoo Ka Khel, Rudra—The Edge of Darkness and the same filmmakers’ Inside Edge 3—and higher than most of them. Still, I have not commented on the term “exemplary” yet, so let me do so. For one, this is a crime thriller in which inves- tigative deduction is a key part, as should be the case (pun intended!) in police procedural dramas. There is no standard frenetic treatment, like chases and unnec- essary action but mind games predomi- nate. There are several threads and some of them coalesce into one. The layers are not really secret and yet are ingeniously peeled off in succession to grip. More: each of the episodes is around 50 minutes long, but the 400 total minutes are almost perfect and not stretched or even remotely boring. There are a few red herrings strewn on the way, and comput- ers and tech come in, but with good rea- son and in convincing manner. The villain is a psychopath and has his own point of view and finally even influences the in- trepid investigating low-caste cop to make a crucial and brave decision. And last but not least, and very vital, one thinks that the saga will end in a cliffhanger when there are just 15 minutes to go and a lot remains to happen, and yet the story is— to my very pleasant surprise!— completed deftly and logically. The season is self-sufficient and com- plete as a good web series must be before it moves to a new one, as Neeraj Pandey stated during Special Ops. Whenever its second installment is made, Dahaad will be welcomed also for this one overwhelm- ingly gratifying reason. One more point: rarely do we see even the most minor characters making a mark and this series ticks that box as well. Whether child artiste or adult, everyone harnesses the tight script as a foothold to give a minimum above-average to great performance. Kudos, then to all those responsible: the writers, directors and casting directors Karan Mally, Nandini Shrikent and Hemang Vyas. The story is basic: in Mandawa in Rajasthan, a police team is investigating couples who have eloped, especially Hin- du girls being inveigled by Muslim boys. But in a twist, something else bigger and more horrendous is discovered: a series of murders of 29 innocent girls that have a pattern. And the pivot seems to be a pro- fessor in a girls’ college, Anand Swarnakar, happily married for 11 years with a kid, who teaches school kids on weekends, and even owns a mobile library. The victims have all run away from their homes, willing to do so as they would otherwise have their families paying (or be unable to pay) huge dowries for prospec- tive suitors. They all commit suicides the day after their weddings by consuming cyanide pills inside a public toilet. Low-caste but ferocious SI (senior inspector) Anjali Bhaati (Sonakshi Sinha), her superior Kailash Parighi (Sohum Shah) and their cool boss, Devi Lal Singh (Gulshan Devaiah) come across the clues and gather data, both digitally and physi- cally, with relentless doggedness. During this process, Anjali has clashes with her mother (Jayati Bhatia), who is hell-bent on getting her married, Kailash with his pregnant wife (Swati Semwal) and Devi Lal with his suspicious and unedu- cated spouse (Shruti Vyas), who feels that he is having an affair with Anjali and also does not want her daughter, Nupur (Sam- maera Jaiswal) to have freedom so early in life. Calmly, the series also highlights political manipulations using communal angles, the dangers of not educating girls and women (including Devi lal’s wife!), caste discrimination, the misuse of tech- nology and how handicapped even the cops can be when they are sure of their target but must face technical matters in the law books, fund paucity and police protocol. Too many cooks (writers) this time do anything but spoil the broth, though I must single out the overall realism and the superbly-varied yet perfect dialogues (Sumit Arora) on the show. Creator and co-director Reema Kagti is one of those few makers today who has shown a steadily ascending graph as director (Gold was better than Talaash that was superior to Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.) and I will watch for her next with great expecta- tions. Among the major highlights of the series are its bewitching cinematography (happily by a homegrown whizkid, Tanay Satam, and not a foreigner as often seen in Excel shows) and background music (Gaurav Raina and Tarana Marwah) and the music pieces that form the villain’s backdrop are just fantastic. Equally so are the performances: Son- akshi Sinha is in terrific mode as not just the cop but also the acidic woman she is with everyone, including, occasionally, her superiors. As the rebellious yet diplomatic daughter, she truly is outstanding in her dilemma of dealing with a stubborn par- ent. Gulshan Devaiah is a revelation in his essay of an ideal parent, a harangued hus- band and a patient, dedicated-to-justice cop. Sohum Shah is great especially as the troubled human being that he is at work as well as at home. Zoa Morani, as Anand’s wife, is mag- nificent as her character undergoes a transformation due to circumstances. Divyanshu Veerwani as her son Kap- ish and Sammaera Jaiswal as Nupur are superb and natural. Prashansa Sharma as Sindoora, the victim who escapes the killer alive but is petrified, is magnificent, and the same applies to Vijay Verma, who plays the mercurial yet ruthless Anand with fantastic deadliness—even when in trouble, he is nonchalant and uber-cool. Don’t miss this one for it justifies this long review: it makes a dahaad with its sheer force of merit in the web space. And Amazon is stepping up their stock. Give me this to a Citadel any day! Rating: ***** By RajivVijayakar Photo:Amazon PrimeVideo Sonakshi Sinha and Gulshan Devaiah in Amazon’s superb series, Dahaad. Raaz), who had planned to gift them to bigger politicians in a bid for ministerial berth in the elections. His ‘homily’ in this matter is: “Rajneeti mein jo kaam sadachaar aur ooch vichaar se nahin hote woh kabhi kabhi aachaar se ho jaate hain (In politics, a job that can- not be done by virtues and high thinking is sometimes accomplished by (gifting) pickles.” And so, when Mahima calls this investigation facile, her shrewd, self-aggrandizing and kowtowing-to-the- powerful boss, Angrez Singh Randhawa (Gurpal Singh), who drinks frommugs with his own ‘mug’ printed on it, says that the police actually do not follow the Indian Penal Code but a different IPC—Indian Political Code! He coaxes Mahima to investigate and find the missing fruits before they ripen and can no longer be properly consumed! Suspicion soon falls on Pateria’s gardener, Bisra (Am- brish Saxena), who has been removed from his job a few days before for “threatening” Pateria’s grandson. Bisra, on the other hand, himself comes to the police station to complain about his missing daughter, Amiya (Apoorva Chaturvedi), but is ignored by the constable Saurabh Dwivedi (Anant V. Joshi). But soon, even as she searches for clues on the miss- ing kathal (jackfruits), Mahima closes in on the missing Amiya, simply by using her shrewdness to connect the two by stating that Amiya has stolen them! The post-climax scene, which explains the jackfruit mystery, is a fittingly funny culmination for the film—a perfect culmination for such a film. And let us not forget that former constable Mahima and Saurabh have loved each other for long, but her promotion to a higher level has prevented their marriage. We also have the domesticated cop, constable Kunti (Neha Saraf), and the lazy yet worried constable Mishra (Govind Pandey). The poor Mishra has bought a pink Nano car (India’s smallest four-wheeler) as dowry for a prospective son-in-law that has been stolen on the same day as the fruits. And his colleagues refuse to look into the case as the missing fruit and girl are more important! Finally, we have a typically intrusive and investigative journalist, Anuj (Rajpal Yadav), who considers himself as a celebrity. He finally finds redemption when he is ar- rested for ‘political’ reasons and actually becomes a celeb! A breezy pasquinade on several aspects of life, Kathal, for a 115-minute home watch, is a delight that one would not mind revisiting off and on. Director Yashowardhan Mishra, known earlier for humorous short films, makes his feature debut and shows massive potential to be a film director and writer whose work we can look forward to with pleasure. The script, co-authored by Ashok Mishra, is topnotch in its focus and incisiveness. Technically competent, the crisp film is a treasury of sharp performances by actors who get into the pith of their roles with aplomb and dedication. Standing out here are Neha Saraf as Kunti, Apoorva Chaturvedi as the insouciant rebel Amiya, Gurpal Singh as Mahima’s boss, Govind Pandey as Mishra and Ranjan Raj as Bhoora. Brijendra Kaul as the quiet forensic expert, Vijay Raaz as the obnoxious MLA and Ambrish Saxena as the gardener Bisra also score high. Anant V. Joshi is alright as Saurabh. This film is more than that—it is not to be missed. Rating: **** - Continued From Page 19