Mumbai, 01 Aug 2021 22:08 IST
However, the second season of Nagesh Kukunoor's web-series is insufferably long with a needlessly complicated narrative.
In a country where politics is always a hot topic, impressive political films or shows have been few and far between, especially in Hindi. So the first season of director Nagesh Kukunoor’s City Of Dreams came as a pleasant surprise, offering a rare, riveting and entertaining political web-series.
But Hindi web-shows are yet to crack the code for delivering solid follow-ups to the first season. In most cases, while the second season hasn’t been bad, it has also not matched up to the first, leave alone surpassing it. City Of Dreams (Season 2) also fails to cross this hurdle.
The first season of City Of Dreams ended with Poornima Gaikwad (Priya Bapat) entering politics supposedly for the good of Maharashtra. Her father and senior party leader Ameyarao Gaikwad aka Saheb (Atul Kulkarni) is left wheelchair-bound after being shot and suffering a stroke. Poornima gets rid of her unstable, trigger-happy and over-ambitious brother Ashish (Siddharth Chandekar) and eases the chief minister, Jagdish Gurav (Sachin Pilgaonkar), aside, becoming the interim CM herself.
But Poornima has to pass a litmus test before she can leave her stamp on the state's politics. Elections are due in three months and she has to lead the party to victory if her career is not to end with a caretaker role. She has former police inspector Wasim Khan (Eijaz Khan), also known as 'Encounter Wasim', and party loyalist Purushottam (Sandeep Kulkarni) by her side.
But her father, Saheb, can't wait to regain full fitness and put his daughter in her place. He is especially angry with her for having killed his chosen heir Ashish. Meanwhile, firebrand leftist leader Mahesh Aravle (Addinath Kothare) enters politics to challenge Poornima.
Bapat has a bigger challenge this time around. She has to play a tough chief minister and vulnerable woman faced with personal issues. The actress takes on the role with dedication and showcases different facets of Poornima with ease. Kulkarni has a bigger role, too, in the second season, but then he has always been a class act.
Pilgaonkar, Khan and Flora Saini continue their good work from the first season. Among the new entrants, Kothare, Sushant Singh and Ankur Rathee offer good support while Shriyam Bhagnani makes a terrific impact.
The second season of City Of Dreams plays out somewhat like the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata. Prakash Jha’s political drama Raajneeti (2010), too, was adapted from the epic. But his was a character-by-character adaptation whereas City Of Dreams only takes its theme from the epic.
Instead of two sets of warring cousins, the show features a father and daughter out to finish each other off. Like in the epic, the good people here are not lily-white. And as in the Mahabharata, this war, too, ends in a realistic manner instead of following the tried-and-tested filmi path.
However, while the epic keeps the reader/viewer riveted even when the story is heading towards war, City Of Dreams (Season 2) tends to drag after the plot, characters and conflict are established and goes round in circles. With too many subplots and characters, the narrative becomes too complicated at times. In other words, it appears that screenwriters Rohit Banawlikar and Kukunoor did not have much of a story to tell before the climax. Yet, the show is dragged till the tenth episode with some of the episodes being almost 50 minutes long. This does become too much for the viewer.
The ending portions do give a jolt, but they come too late in the day. Also, by this time, you realize that the goalposts have been shifted. While the season begins with election victory being the holy grail for all the main characters, somewhere along the way laying a foundation stone for a project becomes the focus with the elections becoming simply a sideshow.
You also wonder about the geography the show wishes to cover. While the web-series is titled City Of Dreams, we can't forget that Poornima is the acting chief minister of the state of Maharashtra. But the entire focus of the show is on events taking place in Mumbai, making us wonder if she is the chief minister for only the city.
Like in the first season, the makers have taken creative liberties in the storytelling. But the show is almost bang on when it comes to the production design. From the interiors of the chief minister's office to the humble middle-class houses of the 1990s, the production design team's work is impressive.
All in all, while City Of Dreams (Season 2) has an eye-pleasing quality to it with the excellent production and superb performances even by those playing bit parts, it fails to deliver the knockout punch after establishing the story and characters. And that's a pity.
City Of Dreams (Season 2) is currently available on Disney+ Hotstar.
Related topicsDisney+ Hotstar
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