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Undekhi (SonyLIV) Must Be Seen!

Undekhi(SonyLIV)

Starring  Dibyendu  Bhattacharya, Harsh Chhaya, Abhishek Chauhan, Surya Sharma, Ankur Rathee, Ayn Zoya,  Aachal Singh

Created  by Siddharth Sengupta

Directed by Aashish Shukla

Rating: **** ½

 There is something strangely seductive  about unfinished stories.  Just when I thought the relentlessly gripping treatise on power  and exploitation was  wrapping up its  themes,suddenly a pedophile policeman appears in  the show.

Heck, what do we need him for  at this point?! I  thought it was  just adding more “statement” to the  utterly engaging story. But no. It is  a befitting  endgame to this  excruciatingly exhilarating  journey which takes us from  upheaval in the  violent heartland of India to a kind of tentative redemption at the end  that doesn’t qualify as hope. It is more like one straggly  beam of light in a dark tunnel.

 I  must admit I came  away with  despair  from the ten episodes of Undekhi. But it is not end-of-the-world despair  but  the despair  of waiting for   the beginning of a new era when, hopefully, the super-rich in our country would understand that wealth and the accompanying power  comes with a responsibility towards the weaker sections.

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The arrogance of  unlimited wealth is on full display as the Atwal family  prepares in scenic Manali   for  the  Big Fat ‘Greed’ Wedding  of their heir apparent Daman(Ankur Rathee, suitably lost and wimpish) to his girlfriend Teji(Anchal Singh) who before the series   clambers to a  kickass climax, will display unexpected pluck in taking on her socio-pathic in-laws.

 While the patriarch of the  family(Harsh Chhaya , embodying the  high spirits  of  the Capitalist Pig)  embarrasses himself and  the family with his loutish behaviour , it is his nephew Rinku who runs the show , in more ways than one. While  the  character  is  the kingpin  of  the  series’  well-appointed crime  syndicate , the actor  Surya Sharma who  plays Rinku presides over the narrative at though it was inherited  property. Sharma  is  absolutely chilling in the way he normalizes crime  and  treats women  like  vassals, and  vessels. Fill ‘em up!

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 Sharma nails  the  character and  gives the series a seriously  breathless spin. The series’ dramatic core and  power thrust  emerge  from a pointblank killing during wedding festivities recorded by  a  shocked  Delhite Rishi(Abhishek Chauhan) who  it turns out, is  the  only  one  at  the  wedding with a  conscience. While he runs for his life his colleague Saloni(Ayn Zona) happily fucks  for  the bucks with  Rinku  in scenes that are savagely funny.

 In  the sequence where she departs  the scene of  the crime ror good Rinku compares her  to  “Dubai ke raand”(the whores of  Dubai). Saloni  doesn’t flinch. She can see what she has become.

My favourite character  in this meticulously carved  tale of  crime  and  little punishment is a Bengali  cop DCP Ghosh(Dibyendu Bhattacharya , bemusingly laconic) who loves  Hindi films and songs , is equally partial to shootings of films and guns,  and hates unsolved crimes. His heroic character kind of flattens  out  midway,  all the quips  and bravado  fade as  Ghosh becomes a victim of a system that pimps itself to the highest  bidder.

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 The  series plays out partly like  a news  report  and partly like an allegory  on  exploitation .As a tribal  girl(Apeksha Porwal,a  bit too groomed)  runs for her life in the jungles she reminded me  of Smita Patil  in Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala. Except that the villain pursuing the damsel in  distress  is far more dangerous than the caricatured Subedaar  in  Mirch Masala.

Undekhi is  a  mirror of our times. It  sometimes reaches  deadends in its  plot construction but the  writers expertly steer  the plot out of sticky situations. They  know better  than the  characters that ,much as we’d like,  good guys  don’t always win.

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