12th October 2020

Review Of High: It Is High On Drama That Eventually Fizzles Out

High(MX Player, 9 Episodes)

Rating: ** ½ 

  Akshay Oberoi’s  sterling performance as  a drug addict kept me going through this interesting but  uneven  study  of  drugs  as poison and panacea, and how pharmaceutical  companies make sure that  civilization remains sick enough to be dependent  on prescribed medicines.

 It  is one  helluva an idea  and I am not sure the series is  able to do justice to the ambitious plot which sweeps across time zones from the 1970s  to present times. The time-shifts are neither smooth nor conclusive and the characters keep coming and  going as per the convenience  of the storyteller rather than the story .

What  holds  the  doddering shifty narration are the  performances.Ranvir Shorey as  an mysterious hitman can play this kind of a role with his  eyes closed. He is  consistently  engaging even if  the script lets him down.  There is  this  very  interesting  daroo ka adda sequence where Ranvirmeets  a couple of homophobic drinkers . Though well-written the sequence doesn’t add up to say anything except  that maybe Shorey  is traumatized  by  his sexual preferences.I am only  guessing.

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 There are  other  characters who  hover over the  plot’s precipitous purview barely registering their services to a cause that grows progressively smudgy with  all  kinds of  governmental agencies  and  politicians, mafia dons and  desperate  goons  using their muscle power to stop the  rampant distribution of an magical medicine  called magic which  stops drug addiction.

The main villain Munna(Kunal Naik)is menacing , snorting powder and  venting spleen on his gang, but softening  inhis  girlfriend’s company. Munna is even  shown manicuring his  girlfriend’s feet. Nice.A metrosexual Mafioso.

There are  other more immediate issues that the  plot fails to  reserve.My main problem  with this partly-engaging  manifesto on the pharmaceutical  mafia is the role of  the  investigative  journalist. As played by Mrinmayee Godbole the  journalist is  a  bundle contradiction.She seems incapable of placing the  contentious  issues  in a  perspective    in the way her elder  sister, a social  worker, is shown  to  do. 

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In the absence of  consistency  the journalist  just seems angry and defiant with  little  scope  of achieving anything that can change lives.And why must all workaholic female journalists be  shown smoking? 

Ms Godbole has one  really  laudable sequence  when she walks out on  her job after throwing a blunt  object at her editor. How  many  times have I wanted to do that?!

Finally  it  is  Akshay Oberoi’s Shiv Mathur who keeps the  faith  alive. He is a  desperately unhappy drug addict  whose only soft spot is a grandmom in an old folks’ home and who walked out on his  girlfriend years ago without warning. This guy is seriously  troubled.  You can see it in his aimless walk, barely audible  talk. In truth, Oberoi’s performance stands above the  plot which  swings dangerously from interesting to unconvincing, depending on which side of  the mid-narration you are standing on.

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