Kaalkoot(8 episodes ;streaming on JioCinema)
Watching this dark murky look at smalltown gender prejudices I got a nasty bout of déjà vu. Kaalkoot looks like the brilliant Dahaad stripped of all slanted relevance and subliminal strengths. It is like being placed at the centre of a morality tale that is so pale and stale, it never rises above its flaws.
Vijay Varma whom we’ve repeatedly seen playing sociopaths, is here the sincere newly recruited cop facing a big crime investigation. Until the end I feared Verma would show his true colours. But no. He is the Good Cop here, swear to God, trying to do his job.
Verma’s Ravi must investigate an acid attack .He reminded me Sonakshi Sinha in Dahaad , specially the angle of the mother badgering the cop to get married.The bahu(t)-insistent Mataji here is the super-talented Seema Biswas.
I mildly enjoyed the mother-son scenes between Verma and Biswas. I could see both struggling to add some meat to their underwritten roles. But honestly, these smalltown sagas about crimes against women and lackadaisical police investigation with moms and pops from the Doordarshan era, are becoming hackneyed and uninteresting.
Vijay Verma is sincere, but largely on his own with no support from the writers(Arunabh Kumar and Sumit Saxena) who flatten out the characters to the extent that they cannot breathe. Gopal Dutt who plays Verma’s sadistic senior suddenly starts showing streaks of sympathy.
He is the character who is supposed to surprise you. But we don’t not know him well enough to feel anything.
Since the acid victim Parul is played by Shweta Tripathi Sharma,she can’t be lying inert on a dingy hospital bed all the time. There are flashbacks where she comes across as rebellious smalltowner who befriends more than one male.Shocking!
We all know what happens to “forward” girls in backward towns. Director Sumit Saxena sets out to savgely censure smalltown biases but ends up spoofing those very characters who are victim of these biases. Parul’s bestfriend is shown to be vacuous and unsteady in her opinion on boys who give unwanted attention. While interrogating her, Verma and his assistant(Yashpal Sharma, wasted) make no attempt to conceal their contempt at girls in mofussil towns who befriend the ‘fear’ sex and pay the price.
Kaalkoot is languid and lacking in vitality. It is supposedly set in a town called Sirsa in Bihar but little in the ambience or characters suggests anything Bihari. This is a serial that wants to be hardhitting and intense like Dahaad ,but lacks both a roar and a bite.