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Samantar (MX Player) Review: It Is An Interesting Romp Into Blind Faith!

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Samantar(Marathi, MX Original,9 Episodes)

Starring Swwapnil Joshi, Tejaswani Pandit

Directed by Satish Rajwade

Rating: ***(3 stars)

 The writing is clearly on the  prowl. Watching on of Marathi cinema’s leading actors  Swwapnil Joshi  fight  blind faith and  superstition  for  9 episodes as he travels across rural Maharashtra in search of his spiritual  doppelganger who holds the key to his future,is a physically exhausting  experience.

Just watching Swwapnil Joshi huffing and puffing across  the  rugged hinterland, chasing trains buses and  spirits, I was left breathless. How many kilos did this  hard-working always-dedicated actor  lose in transit ? As Kumar  Mahajan,  Swwapnil is  forever-grumpy sullen and a wretchedly unhappy man.  Nothing  good happens to him. Near-catastrophes stalk him  like a persistent  lover. Braving through ,rain, slush and  bleak stretches  of  unwelcome greenery,the calamitous character  is well played by Joshi.He could have smiled  a bit more, though.

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This  series, dotted with simulated suspense and  crowd-induced tension, gives Joshi a chance to be in every frame.Whether that is a good thing or bad depends entirely on how much of Kumar Mahajan’s travel woes you can take in your stride. He, the poor actor,isn’t making any effort to entertain us. He has  too many problems to handle.For beginners,a script  that goes nowhere, because it goes all over the place.

The  performances are specifically  melodramatic. The actors are given  the brief—Mysterious Astrologer,  Faithful  Bestfriend, Cranky Boss, Mysterious Stranger—and they go at it like a game of  dumb charade gesticulating and exaggerating the emotions to  the  edge of  hysteria,while the background  music whips the emotions  into a bloody mess  .

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 While  watching the series I was  occasionally swept  into Kumar’s tough journey  . But  the  script is clearly an exercise  in travel travails. As  Joshi  huffs and puffs from one rural  town to another, he  builds a case for  travel phobia for the  lower middleclass. The  plot is a one-note travelogue with breaks  for  Swwapnil Joshi’s Kumar to  squabble with his  wife (Tejaswini Pandit) who clearly isn’t getting the point of her husband’s frequent  out-of-town excursions.

In the last episode we see Joshi grab  his startled wife  into a ferocious smooch. This out-of-character  move is clearly a celebration  of  the no-censorship freedom  on  the OTT platform rather than a demand  of  the  script.

The confrontation, finally with Kumar Mahajan’s   Spiritual Other  is  profoundly disappointing. To  suggest that human destiny  could be tied  to  another  man is to suggest that we are  not responsible  for  any of our own actions. Just for the sheer  relief of moving away  from other urban-elite  OTT fare, and moving into the great big outdoors, Samantar is worth  a dekko .

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