The Great Indian Murder(Disney+Hotstar; 9 Episodes)
Starring Pratik Gandhi, Richa Chadha, Mani PR, Sharib Hashmi, Paoli Dham
Directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia
This has got to be the worst depiction of body-shaming in the history of Indian cinema. The privileged spoilt immoral debauched son of a rich business family invites an actress to a hotel room with the lure of “buying” an award.When she begins to undress he looks at her in disgust and exclaims, “You are sagging all over.”
I cringed for the talented Paoli Dam who is made to do the dirty job of playing this degraded actress. I celebrated when the vile heir-apparent Vicky Rai(played with lipsmacking arrogance by Jatin Goswami) was bumped off .
Good riddance to bad rubbish, and all that. But then if we were to move on quickly each time a perennial offender perished , what would the lawmakers do? The Great Indian Murder piles on the suspects faster than food on a hungry plate . One after another the potential murderers come on from every part India, including Rajasthan and the Andaman….not Nic Andaman & Nicobar , donon alag hain, the suspect Eketi, played by the Malayalam actor Mani PR, explains.
As a prime suspect this is big break for the very unconventional looking actor. It is embarrassing to see how Mani’s esoteric looks and language are used to accentuate the character’s otherness. Outwardly the series seems to insinuate an inclusiveness through Mani’s character. But the more we know Eketi the more we realize that the plot exploits his other-ness rather than celebrate it.
The tragic end that Eketi’s character encounters takes 9 episodes of blustering searing investigation by three CBI officers. Richa Chadha’s Sudha Bhardwaj and Pratik Gandhi’s Suraj Yadav begin their uneasy relationship like Raveena Tandon and Parambrata Chatterjee in Aranyak . But after the initial soul-sniffing the two are given no space to let a relationship evolve. In fact there is more character growth for a third cop Manjot(Guneet Singh) .
Ironically the crime investigation seems far less engrossing than the suspects’ lives. Munna(played with humble austerity by Shashank Arora) gets picked up by the cops at a mall. “What were you doing in a mall? People like you have small stores in your locality to hang around in,” a loutish cop tells Munna.
The irony of such social discrimination is lost on the plot. The underprivileged characters who are cornered as suspects end up either betrayed or dead or both. Nemesis takes long to arrive. When it does, there is very little interest left in the characters’ destiny . The performances range from the listless to the nominally enthusiastic.Raghuvir Yadav’s antics as a split-personality who thinks he is Mahatma Gandhi, encapsulate the too-ambitious-for-its-own-good spirit of this visually well-mounted but emotionallty lackluster adaptation of a novel which at the best, a timepass read. The OTT adaptation isn’t anywhere close.