Review Hindi

Asur review: Slow-paced psychological thriller that questions the nature of good and evil

Release Date: 02 Mar 2020

Cinestaan Rating

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Suyog Zore

Created by Gaurav Shukla, the web-series smartly mixes elements from Hindu mythology to explore the reasons behind the making of an asur.  

Last month, Voot released their original web-series, Asur. Anyone with a working knowledge of Hindu mythology will be aware that asurs (demons) were evil and had been rightly defeated by the gods or devas. But an in-depth reading of mythology reveals that many of the asuras were not evil. In fact, some of them were righteous and good kings, who only dreamt of expanding their kingdom, which is the duty of a king.

The web-series starts with a gruesome murder. A woman has been brutally killed and her mutilated and charred body is strung up as a scarecrow in a field. One of the fingers has been chopped. The only clue left behind by the killer is a mask of an asura stuck to the victim's face.

The investigation into the serial killings is headed by Dhananjay Rajpoot (Arshad Warsi) with his team of brilliant forensic scientists, comprising Nusrat Saeed (Ridhi Dogra), Lolark Dubey (Sharib Hashmi), and Rasool Shaikh (Amey Wagh),

Nikhil Nair (Barun Sobti), a professor at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)'s training institute, has been receiving encoded messages revealing the coordinates of places across India, where the killer leaves behind the dismembered bodies of his victims. Nikhil used to be a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officer, but now lives in the USA with his wife Naina (Anupriya Goenka) and daughter. But he still misses working for the CBI. Finally, he decides to go back to India and joins the investigation.

Director Oni Sen's Asur is a psychological thriller, which takes the age-old conflict of asurs versus devas and places it in contemporary time. However, the characters are not black and white. Initially, there is a very clear line between good and evil, but as the series progresses, the line starts to blur and we realize this is not just another run-of-the-mill thriller.

Gaurav Shukla, the series creator, has put in a lot of thought into writing this thriller. He smartly mixes elements from Hindu mythology like deva, asur and kalki, but also makes sure it doesn't go over the head of the casual viewer, who may not be so familiar with Hindu mythology.

An important aspect that Asur deals with is parental abuse. The series spends a significant amount of time explaining the killer's backstory through brief flashback scenes in every episode. Slowly, we begin to understand how an innocent child, gifted with a photographic memory, ends up being the murderer.

Sen has imparted a very distinct visual style to this series. The use of desaturated colors and shooting on real locations like Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, plays an important part in creating an ominous mood throughout the series.

Another technical department that deserves praise is Asur's background music score by Dharam Bhatt. His eerie yet somber soundtrack is one of the reasons why Asur leaves such a deep and long-lasting impact. When it comes to web-series, music is one of the most neglected aspects. If you are fond of listening to original soundtracks, then Asur's soundtrack definitely deserves a place on your playlist.

All the cast members have performed well. Warsi, who plays the CBI head Dhananjay Rajpoot, gets a chance to reveal his serious side after a long time. But it's Sobti and Dogra, who deserve the most praise, for what may be their career-best performance. Another surprising performance comes from child artiste Vishesh Bansal, who has the least screen time, but leaves a big impact. Goenka, Hashmi, and Wagh don't get many opportunities, but they all do justice to their characters.

Asur is not without its flaws. One of them is its slow pace. Though it starts with a gruesome murder, it slows down significantly after the initial burst. The first three episodes are slow paced and test your patience. There is another minor flaw, one which may escape notice unless one is paying close attention. There is a subtle hint in the third episode about the identity of the serial killer.

Overall, this eight-episode psychological thriller is a solid binge-worthy series. It will not be an exaggeration to say that Asur is one of the best Hindi series available on OTT (Over-the-top) platforms currently.


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