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Adhura, Leaves Us Intrigued,Puzzled,Shaken



Adhura(Prime  Video, 7 episodes)

Rating: ****

It is difficult to  come away from the seven episodes of Adhura  without  a queasy feeling in the pit of  your stomach. Its ambience, a posh boarding school, and the theme of campus bullying reminded me of another recent webseries Avinash Arun’s School Of Lies which was darker, more oppressive  ominous and lurid.

There is a  sexual energy in  Adhura too  never  fully explored, as  the  co-directors  Ananya Banerjee and Gauravv K Chawla  don’t seem interested in  examining  the psyche of bullying beyond the rudimentaries. The  stage for an eerie excursion is  set  from the start. The  corridors of the boarding school and the locker rooms are painted in sinister tones, as one  of the boys Vedant(Shrenik Arora, remarkable) is trapped in  a locker  by the boys.

Mysterious  footsteps approach and  release Vedant. This is  as  spooky as the series gets.There is potential here  for a masterful muddle mystery,alas squandered in superfluous tone-deaf storytelling. Too  much time is spent in over-explaining  the eerie elements, thereby rendering it  denuded of all intrigue.

The  drama unfolds  at an old boys’ reunion at the boarding school where  Adhiraj Jaisingh(Ishwak Singh, so  endearing in Rocket Boys here rendered  as a bundle of nerves, more confounded than  confounding) shows up  at an Indian hillstation  from the US. Adhiraj has a deep connection with the  ghost that prowls on the academic premises.

Weirdly, no one makes a   run for their moaning.  They just stay put at the  boarding school watching their friends  getting killed. No one says, ‘Enough,let’s leave’. They just hang around waiting  to be struck dead.

Just goes  to show, acting stupid is  an essential part of Indian horror shows. And  the characters here are  more guilty of daft behaviour than expected. Rasika Duggal who plays the resident  counsellor(like Nimrat Kaur in School Of Lies)  actually takes  the troubled  possessed  little boy home with her; her explanation being, she couldn’t leave him with the other  kids at  the boarding school to be bullied.


Duggal is never an incapable actor. Here her character seems stuck in a skeptical space never fully able to  extract itself from the actress’ rational bearing. The very talented Rahul Dev shows up belatedly in Episode 4 as a cocky inspector who thumbs his nose at the lawbook and swears  by his instincts.

Admittedly  Adhura has its share of  jump scares,  especially when  the  ghost of a bullied gay  teenager stalks the guests. Moral of  the story:  beware  of making insensitive homophobic remarks. You may end  up with your  limbs  so twisted you  look  like an octopus  doing yoga.

The  head count far exceeds the  plot’s presence of mind. And yet Adhura works in parts for its predisposition to  derive an atmospheric  pressure from random sounds and sights.

It’s only when the ghost makes himself visible that we realize, the spirit  of  shared scares is scarce here. There is too much stress on  creating a  stressful environment. ‘Let’s scare the hell out of them’ is  fine.  But at what cost?

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