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Mum Bhai review: Wannabe underworld saga strewn with corpses and curses

Release Date: 06 Nov 2020

Cinestaan Rating

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Keyur Seta

Even some good performances by the lead characters fail to rescue this confused web-series by Apoorva Lakhia.

Films about Mumbai’s underworld have been done to death, so much so that they have become a thing of the past. From films based on real gangsters to purely fictional ones, we have seen them all. So, if someone is still keen to do a film or series in this genre, it is vital for the tale to have some novelty.

Forget newness, the writers of Apoorva Lakhia’s Mum Bhai seem to believe that a show about the underworld and the police in today’s times should only be about hundreds of encounters and the overuse of cuss words. A cogent storyline? What is that?

So, it is a challenge to figure out Mum Bhai's basic plot. The story revolves around Bhaskar Shetty (Angad Bedi). As a child in 1986, he was forced to flee from Mangalore to Mumbai (then Bombay) after injuring a schoolteacher. Bhaskar’s mother asks close family friend Rama Shetty (Sikandar Kher) to look after her son in the city.

So far so good. Then the confusion starts creeping in. Rama is a dreaded gangster and wants Bhaskar to join his gang when he grows up. But Bhaskar grows up to be a police officer. It is not clear how that happens. There is no scene of conflict between him and his guardian.

Bhaskar’s journey as an encounter specialist starts abruptly when he randomly kills a couple of goons without any orders or plan. Instead of facing an inquiry, he is recruited into the squad of his hero, encounter specialist Karekar (Sameer Dharmadhikari).

Throughout the web-series, one gets the feeling the writers did not know what to do with Bhaskar or his journey. At one point, his conflict with Rama is introduced and you think, well, finally the crux of the plot has arrived. But then the narrative shifts towards Bhaskar’s obsession with making himself a hero in the media.

Confusion is confounded when Bhaskar suddenly turns into a corrupt cop who makes it a habit to take bribes. He becomes immoral in personal life as well and cheats on his wife with a sex worker. In fact, he visits the sex worker just before his own wedding! All these changes in the main character come about abruptly. Such chaos reigns till the end.

As if all this weren't enough, a rap song with bad Marathi pronunciation keeps doing the rounds throughout the 12 episodes.

Among some unusual characters, the one that appears strange is of journalist Shirodkar (Vishwas Kini). He reports on crime as well as cinema and at times doubles up as photographer too! But his main source of income is some shady business with the police.

Perhaps the only interesting and amusing subplot is the one where a filmmaker, modelled on Ram Gopal Varma, makes a film on Bhaskar’s life and the latter is put off by it because of the realism in the plot. If only we could have had the same complaint.

Of the cast, the performances of Angad Bedi and Sikandar Kher rise above the content. Bedi has proved his mettle before in films like Tiger Zinda Hai (2017), Soorma (2018) and Gunjan Saxena (2020). Here, he speaks Hindi with a Southern accent quite naturally and consistently. He salvages, to an extent, the weird treatment afforded his character by the script.

The underrated Kher proves yet again what a good performer he is. He lives every bit of Rama Shetty with conviction. The only problem is that his character looks almost unchanged though the story moves from 1986 to 2005.

Sameer Dharmadhikari is also convincing as a foul-mothed and short-tempered police officer. But these performances are unable to rescue the web-series from the poor content and presentation. At the very end, the show indicates that a second season may be in the offing. We have been warned.

Mum Bhai is now available on Zee5 and ALTBalaji.

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