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Grahan OTT Webseries: It Is A Stunning Reminder Of 1984’s Genocide!




Grahan (Disney-Hotstar, 8 episodes)

Starring: Pawan  Malhotra, Zoya Hussain, Anshuman Pushkar, Wamiqua Gabbi

Directed by: Ranjan Chandel

Rating: ****

 Grahan Review: I was a shocked  teenager when the  1984  genocide wiped away thousands of  Sikhs. Well- known  politicians  and  even politically motivated  celebrities  from  the entertainment  world provoked and  incited  the mobs to go out and  take  revenge against an  entire community for their beloved  prime  minister’s assassination.

 I haven’t forgotten the dance of death that started  on the  night  of  October 31 and continued  till my birthday on  November  2. Quality conscious  producer  Ajay Rai(who has  invested in  many a significant  cinematic project from  the Marathi  masterpiece Kill  in 2014 to the  most recent  achievement  Fire In The Mountains)  opens  up the wounds of the 1984  genocide, wounds  that never healed, wrongs  that were never righted.

Directed  by  Ranjan Chandel, the Grahan  8 episodes  have a  certain consistent  momentum in the storytelling, and though  it moves through two time zones, actually  three, the  plot never  becomes  a jumble of  unnerving frisky  jumpcuts , as serials  about multi -time passages tend to.

 Grahan‘s story  is pronouncedly dramatic. And that’s how  it should be, considering the improbable  brutality  of what transpired  on those  3  fateful nights when Sikhs were  pulled  out of their  homes and burnt alive. Bokaro was  one  of the cities that was most harshly affected  by the genocide. This is  where   Grahan is set. Shot on location, Kamaljeet Negi’s cinematography  captures that  frozen-in-time quality of  those small North  Indian towns which have  never  grown up.

The opening of Grahan in the 1990s , when an investigative  journalist with incriminating  evidence on the  1984 carange   against a prominent politician of  the  town is  hunted down by two goons, will immediately  capture  your attention. The audience  is made privy  to  an intense  probe to  bring the culprits  of  the  1984  riots to  book(if only wishes were horses…) wherein a young plucky female  police officer Amrita Singh(Zoya Hussain) discovers  that  the father she hero-worships was present at the looting and arson in Bokaro in 1984.

If the truth be  told, Grahan is not Amrita’s story. Sure, she is  omnipresent  and  Zoya Hussain plays  her with a  grit that provides  an inner strength to the  story. But this is not Amrita’s story. It is her father  Gurusevak Singh’s  story. His  past  and how deeply  it colours his  daughter’s present  and future is  the raw material on which the series  builds its  emotionally  simmering edifice.

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 In  the role  of  the  troubled turbaned  time traveler, Pawan Malhotra  again reminds us he is one of Indian cinema’s most brilliant , underrated  and underused actors. Watch him  in  the courtroom finale  where he speaks up finally, but mostly through his eyes which convey an eternity of  pain.Standing frail  but tall, this  aging man  becomes  the living embodiment   of and abiding testimony  to  all the  wrongs that the  whole community  suffered.  This is an actor on a par with the world’s finest acting talent.I wonder what Grahan would have been without Malhotra!

 Anshuman  Pushkar who plays  the young version of Pawan Malhotra’s  character is  a talent to watch. To the  role  of   the ardent  suitor and timeless lover,Pushkar  imparts  a sense of classic Gabriel Garcia   Marques vibes during the  time of  riots and  barbarism. This young actor has  arguably  the  best cinematic  voice since Amitabh Bachchan.Wamiqa  Gabbi as  Pushkar/Malhotra’s object  of adoration  fails to  strike the  right notes, though she  does convey a  lot of the required  alharpan.Her embrace with Anshuman Pushkar on an eerily empty railway platform is  a  classic moment of love not equaled by  the rest of the series.

The  rest of  the  actors  do not  really have fleshed our roles. Or  maybe their impact  is  diminished by Malhotra’s  towering performance.

 Tall and  emotional, the story  moves into  fitful flashbacks  before travelling back to land in the present with a comfortable thud. I am not  surprised  to know that Grahan is based on  a literary work—Satya Vyas’ novel Chaurasi. There is  such a rich  literary heritage in  our country, now being  discovered for  the digital domain by enterprising producers like Ajay Rai and Sameer Nair.

Where to watch Grahan webseries?

Grahan webseries (8 episode) can be watched on HOTSTAR or can also be watched on Mobile app of Disney+Hotstar which can be downloaded from Google Playstore

Trailer of Grahan webseries

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