Mumbai, 09 Jul 2020 17:00 IST
Directed by Ashish R Shukla, the ten-part SonyLiv original web-series starts as a murder investigation but quickly turns into a social commentary on corruption in the higher ranks of society.
While SonyLiv's earlier web-series Your Honor (2020) depicted the lengths to which an honest father can go to save his son from the clutches of the law, its new web-series Undekhi (2020) is all about an influential family from Haryana which delights in making a mockery of the system to save a senior member of the family from being charged with murder.
Murders are committed in both web-series, but the difference is that the killing in Your Honor was the accidental death of a gangster at the hands of a teenager while here it is the cold-blooded murder of a poor woman for trivial reasons.
The Atwals, one of the richest and most influential families in the city, are hosting the grand wedding of their US-returned heir Daman (Ankur Rathee). The story starts with the perpetually inebriated father of the groom, Papaji Atwal (Harsh Chhaya), gunning down a dancer in front of hundreds of guests.
The wedding is taking place at a resort owned by Papaji's foster son Rinku (Surya Sharma), who will go to any extent to save his Papaji from the law. The family has also hired a team of student filmmakers lead by Saloni (Ayn Zoya) and Rishi (Abhishek Chauhan) to make a wedding film. Rishi inadvertently captures the murder on camera.
In the midst of this drama, DSP Ghosh (Dibyendu Bhattacharya) arrives in Manali, following the trail of another murder which occurred in the Sunderbans in West Bengal. His investigation leads him to the Atwals and he realizes that things are not as they seem. Now begins the cat-and-mouse game between Rinku and DSP Ghosh.
Umesh Padalkar, Siddharth Sengupta and Mohinder Pratap Singh deserve credit for creating such a compelling drama with a healthy dose of social commentary. Without being overt about it, the writers show you the reality of India, where the legal system works only for a certain section. The show also highlights the manner in which the system is manipulated to serve the rich and the powerful.
The screenplay grips you from the first scene itself and keeps you on edge till the very end as Ghosh and Rinku use various tactics to outmanoeuvre each other. There is also Rishi, who wants to expose the Atwals, while Saloni is following her own agenda. Every decision a character makes has consequences and takes the story forward. Each scene is filled with a lot of tension as lives are at stake.
Director Ashish R Shukla has done a wonderful job in extracting a realistic performance from every artiste. He makes no attempt to show off by designing complicated scenes; instead, he lets the artistes take centre stage and focuses on their performances.
All the artistes have delivered excellent performances, but the scene stealers are Harsh Chhaya and Surya Sharma. Chhaya plays a unabashed Papaji, who is always inebriated and constantly hurling abuse. His performance also brings in some much-needed humour in an otherwise dark show.
For Surya Sharma, this is a breakout performance, as this is the first time he is getting to play such a meaty role. Despite playing a negative character, he is the main lead of the show. His Rinku is short-tempered but ruthless and calculating at the same time. He knows exactly what to say and how to get what he wants.
The women in the show do not have much to do except watch their men going about their business. Former Miss India Apeksha Porwal makes her acting debut with this web-series. Despite her limited screentime, she does a fine job. Ayn Zoya, who plays Saloni, also leaves a mark with her performance. Overall, in terms of acting the show does not hit a single false note.
The only sore point in this near perfect series is its climax. The show ends abruptly, promising a second season. But it leaves many questions unanswered. You don't feel satisfied after watching such a compelling drama. Of course, this also depends on individual viewers, many of whom may not consider the open ending a flaw.
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