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OK Computer review: Ambitious yet confused dystopian procedural that pits humans against robots

Release Date: 26 Mar 2021


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Sonal Pandya

The science-fiction comedy, created by Pooja Shetty and Neil Pagedar, has an intriguing concept but is weakened by its central mystery.

The year is 2031 and our story takes places in Panjim, Goa where ACP Saajan Kundu (Vijay Varma) of the cyber cell has been summoned to the scene of a crime. A self-driving cab called Nikhil has run over a man, leaving his identity in question. But the larger question that presents itself to Kundu and his colleagues is still unresolved: is it murder or an accidental crime?

The hostile, jaded Saajan believes it was murder, but his former friend-turned-nemesis, the CEO of PETER (People for the Ethical Treatment of Every Robot) Laxmi Suri, played by Radhika Apte, believes a robot cannot harm a human. In the not-so-distant future, robots and AI (artificial intelligence) have become a part of everyday life. OK Computer, created and directed by Pooja Shetty and Neil Pagedar, establishes a dystopian world where the humans exist in harmony with them, until the mysterious death of ‘John Doe’ aka Pav Bhaji.

Yes, the police officers assigned to the case refer to the victim as such. Kundu is joined by bumbling officers Monalisa Paul (Kani Kusruti) and Ashfaq (Sarang Sathaye) as they try to decode how this could have happened. Their hapless investigation leads them to uncover Ajeeb, the robot once hailed as the saviour of mankind and who went into hiding after attempting a career in stand-up comedy. Together, this ragtag team of misfits tries to expose the hidden hand behind the incident over six episodes, with the help of Ajeeb and other robots.

The science-fiction comedy is packed in with too many details to digest at once. The robots aren’t the cold, unfeeling types from Hollywood; instead, they are uniquely Indian and have names like Maushi, or sell cloud space on the road calling out, “Aye, hero!” Also, there is an unseen crew who films Saajan and company like a mockumentary.

Then there is Pushpak Shakur (Jackie Shroff), the nudist cult leader of Jigyasu Jagriti Manch, which is anti-science, anti-vaccine and anti-gravity, who is another suspect in the murder. Each episode wearily points at a different twist, leading to yet another suspect.

Even as the satirical series explores the larger meanings of humanity, existence, and the general state of being, OK Computer brings out some genuine laugh-out-loud moments as the characters and robots go on a wild ride. The madcap adventures lead by Kundu eventually results in the trial of Ajeeb, who has to prove his innocence to humans.

The cast of OK Computer is terribly committed, especially Varma and Apte, who bring great feeling to their parts. Kusruti and Sathaye as the good-natured officers are a hoot, while Ajeeb as the ‘robot with a conscience’ quickly gets annoying due to his naivete. Overall, the themes and storylines explored in the series by Shetty and Pagedar get way too convoluted after a while despite raising salient points.
 
The series, which begins with a lovely animated intro, examines the weighty issue of artificial intelligence versus humankind, and the main plot point of a death involving a self-driving car feels similar to Amazon Prime’s Upload, which also looked at human greed and capitalism, albeit in a much cleverer way. The climactic episode, which answers many questions and poses others, also has a surprising cameo by a filmmaker who fits right into this madcap world.

OK Computer, co-written and produced by Anand Gandhi, had the potential to go the distance, instead, it is a tentative step into the world of hard science fiction. It’s a bold experiment that needed a few more tests.

Disney+ Hotstar is now streaming Ok Computer.

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