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PariWar review: This light-hearted web-series should have been a 90-minute movie

Release Date: 24 Sep 2020

Cinestaan Rating

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Keyur Seta

Director Sagar Ballary returns after a hiatus with an inoffensive but overextended family drama.

Director Sagar Ballary, who became a household name in 2007 with his hilarious debut film Bheja Fry, hasn’t tasted the same kind of success ever since, not even with the 2011 sequel to the smash hit. This time around, he has tried his hand at the family drama genre. PariWar, as its title suggests, centres on conflict within a dysfunctional family. However, it is a far cry from the melodramatic tear-jerkers that are synonymous with the genre in India. 

PariWar sees patriarch Kashi Narayan (Gajraj Rao), who resides in Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad), fake an illness in a desperate bid to get his children and their families to visit him.

His younger son Chotke (Ranvir Shorey), his wife (Sadiya Siddiqui) and children live in Mumbai while Badke (Yashpal Sharma), the elder one, works in Benares where he stays with his wife (Anurita Jha) and kids. Chotka and Badke’s younger sister Guddan (Nidhi Singh) works in the US. 

On visiting Prayagraj, Badke and Chotke eventually wise up to their father's scheme. But they decide to stick around on learning that he plans to donate a large tract of land to his friend Gangaram (Vijay Raaz) so that the latter, a theatre actor, can build a widowers’ house there. 

The brothers' concerns deepen as they suspect that Gangaram might palm the land off to a cement company for a huge sum. Further complicating matters is the fact that Gangaram’s son Munna (Abhishek Banerjee) is deeply smitten by Guddan. 

PariWar would have been a bit more enjoyable if it were a 90-minute movie as it clearly lacks the meat that one can expect from a multiple-episode web-series.

Though it has an interesting premise, oodles of conflict and well-etched characters, the writers seem to have been rudderless after establishing the tale and the characters. The plot goes round in circles right up to the point where the curtains close on the saga. By this time, one will have given up on the series, missing out on a heartwarming, although not entirely unpredictable, twist at the end. 

While it's not a foregone conclusion that condensing PariWar into film form would instantly transmute it into a masterpiece, it would have definitely made for a better viewing experience. The issue here is that the dialogues lack the punch required to make you laugh. 

The performances in PariWar bring to mind old Doordarshan shows. Rao, who is seen in a lot of projects these days, once again delivers a top-notch performance as an 'ailing father' who wants to be with his kids while Shorey continues to cement his reputation as someone adept at getting into the skin of diverse characters. We have seen Vijay Raaz play humorous characters before but there's nothing stale about this performance. Banerjee, who's been on a roll in the web medium, continues his streak while one would also be hard-pressed to fault the performances of Sharma, Singh, Jha and Siddiqui.

Though vastly overextended, PariWar is far from repulsive and its interesting characters, who have been skillfully portrayed, help tide you through the pointless proceedings.

PariWar is now available on Disney+ Hotstar.

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