Dev DD – A Dull & Damp Squib

Image result for dev dd

Series – Dev DD

Starring – Asheema Vardaan, Akhil Kapur, Sanjay Suri

Created by – Ekta Kapoor.

Written by – Nikhil Vyas, Kamayini Vyas

Directed by – Ken Ghosh

Platform – Alt Balaji.

Episodes – 10

Before I pen down my thoughts on the show, I’d just like to say this – I have not read the original classic Devdas, the inspiration for this show by Sarat Chandra Chatterjee. My views therefore are not a reflection on his work but the show inspired by it.

My sole brush however with the classic is the 2002 adaptation on the silver screen made by the maestro Sanjay Leela Bhansali, starring Shahrukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

Prior to the movie all I knew about Devdas was that it’s an epithet inspired by this classic given to a drunkard, a wastrel and it did not at all seem awe inspiring.

Many who saw the movie and came to discover the story behind the man, like me did so for the expectations of the magnum opus were quite high, given the kind of niche Mr. Bhansali had established for himself and of course the star cast. And by extension, there were a lot of people who came to sympathize with the ‘tragedy’ that is supposed to be Devdas.

I, on the other hand simply could not for the life of me seem to sympathize with him…to me Devdas isn’t the epitome of tragedy, to me what he is, is the very definition of a spineless weak man who could not dare fight for his love and who chose to wallow and drown himself in drinks than do something about his life….

I cannot therefore call him anything except a douchebag, a man who sabotaged his own life and wished people would understand what a sorry fellow he is…yeah, my sympathies cannot be evoked for such a creature.

So…I wondered exactly what would this adaptation of that classic be like which reversed the roles of the three main characters, central amidst which is the narrator, who can neither inspire empathy nor sympathy.

Aashmeema Vardhan plays Devika Dharam Dwivedi, a girl who wears her heart on her sleeves, is as badass as she can get and who doesn’t feel shy to mouth the words “condom” and “sanitary napkins” as she purchases them even if the vendor who sells them to her does.

It is supposed to be what a modern 21st century girl is supposed to be as per the writers and the director I suppose. Nothing wrong in having a girl mouth those terms openly…only I wish it weren’t then pointed out what a big deal it is for her to do so…kinda kills the whole point for me.

Moving on.

Devika meets Parth at her sister’s wedding and sparks immediately fly….they end up kissing within hours of meeting for the first time and there’s no holding back for the couple thereon.

Lending Devika and Parth, a place to shack up, literally, is her best friend Chandni, the counterpart of Chunnilal who also happens to be a lesbian.

Devika and Parth go kaput eventually and it’s not surprising.

A heartbroken Devika deals with the depression of losing her fuckboy with alcohol, picking random fights with strangers and embarassing herself and her parents in the process.

Which eventually causes her to cross paths with Anurag Rana, played by Sanjay Suri.

And at this point I finally gave up on this show and it’s story. Because not once did it move me to watch Devika weep or drown herself in the bottle, neither was anything that could be termed as pathos about her woes… pathetic more like it seemed to be the only word coming to me.

And though that is the point of Devdas, to have a pathetic loser for a protagonist; it was the end of my patience with this pretentious and dumb character and her awful story.

As I watched her, I didn’t wonder what tragedy would befall next in this story but thought how is this girl purchasing herself booze and condoms without making a living? How does she manage to have packets of cigarettes when her mother can’t even bring herself to utter the word bra? 

If she has no job, is from an average middle class family how does she manage to order expensive bras online without her parents paying for it? 

Exactly where did she find herself this inexhaustible supply of cash and how do I manage to get my hands on it too? 

Was it that she found some serious dough when last year Mr. Narendra Modi, the honorary Prime Minister of India announced demonetization and people threw away literally crores and crores of black money just to avoid getting under the radar of Income Tax department’s scrutiny. 

Ratings – do I seriously have to spell it anymore?… minus 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Test Case – First Episode Review

Series – The Test Case

Starring – Nimrat Kaur as Capt. Shikha Sharma, Atul Kulkarni as Ajinkya Sathe, Rahul Dev as Kripal Bhatti and Juhi Chawla in a special appearance as Defence Minister  Shraddha Pandit

Created by – Ekta Kapoor & Samar Khan

Written by – Nagesh Kukunoor & Mukul Srivastava {Screenplay} and Ishita Moitra {Dialogue}

Directed by –  Nagesh Kukunoor 

Platform – Alt Balaji

Produced by Endemol Shine India, the OTT platform recently launched by TV Czarina Ekta Kapoor finally streamed the first episode of the series that was inspired by a landmark verdict of President Pranab Mukherjee in 2016. Five days after it was supposed to be up. 

The Test Case, is Capt. Shikha Sharma’s journey to being the first woman to be successfully included in combat in the Indian Army as she gets honoured by the prestigious Maroon Beret, worn only by worn by the 50th Parachute Brigade, the President’s Body Guard, and the Special Forces Unit.

Shikha, a military intelligence officer has volunteered to be the first woman to try to get a place among the prestigious Special Forces Unit. And it is at this point that her journey begins.

The 41 minute long first episode is certainly the finest series premiere that has so far happened on the platform. 

The episode is tightly paced and crisply edited. The performances of the cast certainly makes you feel that they’ve done their homework. Juhi Chawla in a special appearance with a very Sushma Swaraj vibe was a delight to watch as this beautiful actress has been for far too long typecast as the bubbly girl next door and in recent times has been MIA, her last outing was Gulab gang, a movie which first chose to highlight her chops as antagonist. The highly talented and always dependable Atul Kulkarni once again in the matter of a few minutes proves why he’s Ajinkya and Rahul Dev finally seems to have a chance to play a character that might seem antagonistic but is not.

Nimrat, has been a treat for the eyes. Right from mannerisms to body language she embodies Shikha Sharma and slips into the skin of her character effortlessly. 

The episode was pitch perfect except for one scene with a cadet that was too long and too boring for me eventually and IMO could have been done without.  

Nagesh Kukunoor IMO has just landed with the first truly impressive series of the platform and I for one simply cannot wait for what’s next to come.

I would rate the series premiere episode of The Test Case a winning 4 out of 5. 

Do two wrongs make a right? – thoughts on Bewafaa Si Wafaa 

Series – Bewafaa Sii Wafaa
Starring – Samir Soni as Sumer, Aditi Vasudev as Meghna, Dipannita as Nishqa and Yudhistir as Aditya.

Created by – Ekta Kapoor.

Written by – Vibha Singh.

Directed by – Ranjan Singh & Sonam Nair

Platform – Alt Balaji.

Episodes – 10

The Bhagavad Gita–that ancient Indian Yogic text–says that it is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

The premise – Most love stories end with the couple either getting together happily or dying; but what happens when the story begins with the couple already married – with other people.

Sumer and Meghna, meet under such circumstances. They’re married. To other people.

He has a picture perfect life on surface – a hugely successful business, an illustrious family, a beautiful wife and a little son. In short almost everything a man could want for. However the picture perfect life is empty as it could be; with the illustrious family having dark and ugly secrets of its own and the beautiful wife being too busy being vain and in ensuring her MIL is pleased with her at all times for future gains and benefits. 

Meghna on the other hand is in a marriage that she ended up in after a whirlwind romance which has lost its spark under the weight of everyday realities and responsibilities. Her police officer husband is more often than not too busy with his job and away from the home and wife mostly. After five years of marriage Meghna wants a child, to know the bliss of motherhood; experience the ultimate selfless love in all its glory but her husband citing their financial situation doesn’t share her views and wishes. A nagging mother in law (who thankfully doesn’t live with the couple all the time) and a not so happening career as an event organiser complete her set of problems.

It is in the midst of these conditions that a chance encounter makes Sumer and Meghna cross paths for the first time. Coincidence has them meet again and this time around they part after having shared a brief and spontaneous kiss. Mired with guilt and confusion the two meet again after a few attempts to avoid each other and failure at the same; wherein the duo is introduced to each other’s spouses as well. A conversation to put the kiss that shouldn’t have happened behind leads to the proposal of a friendship that ends with them in bed eventually however and from hereon begins the tale of two people who find love, happiness and laughter with each other even as their partners remain oblivious of their infidelities for a while.

The four lives however now twined together in one of the ugliest possible situations, land in an even bigger soup when their crossroads get tangled up in a mystery of a murder; the investigating officer for which is the jilted husband and the prime suspect the man with whom his wife cheated on him.

The verdict – Sumer and Meghna are not the kind of characters you can root for, for obvious moral reasons and yet you wonder is it really worth it to continue with a marriage that all things considered has them lonely…. but then again you feel is Abhi really so wrong in wanting financial stability before having a child or is Nishqa at fault completely for her and Sumer’s failing marriage, when he didn’t even once attempt to have an honest conversation with her and express his wishes and disappointments with her as he wished she’d magically understand the same all on her own without so much as a word from him…

This is certainly the assembly of the most flawed characters coming together and of the two Alt Balaji shows that I’ve yet seen, certainly the bolder one; with quite a few kissing scenes as well as love making scenes though none of them are graphic or explicit, you do see why this is a webseries and not something you would find on a GEC. The actors suit their parts yet there are times when the show is a little jarring.

Also I noticed it isn’t produced by the mother daughter duo of the Kapoors interestingly.

Similar to KTBM, I’d rate BSW no more than 2.5.

It’s very much apparent that though Balaji is possibly the biggest production house for TV shows in India, they’re struggling with the platform of webseries. The characters and stories look half-baked, they are yet to get comfortable with the format and hence are trying to pack in too much together which isn’t a good thing always.

It would be better if things instead of being dealt with in a haphazard and rushed manner were built organically and the characters allowed to come across as more real.

I certainly hope over a period of time, the platform finds itself eventually as competition in the streaming industry in India is certainly about to get tougher with Amazon Prime launching their original programming in India next year; created with international standards in mind, Netflix is bound to catch up sometime in the near future too as well as there’s possibility of other competition cropping up aside from the existing ones as it is.

Balaji certainly does not have the same budget as well as production values as Amazon and Netflix do have, however it’s their two decades worth of experience that they should capitalise on if they want to be in competition with them for a long time. Because eventually they’re their competition for better or worse and while viewers wouldn’t mind having the kind of content that is between Naagin and Narcos, they do have to find it in themselves to root for something to stay connected; which at this point is seriously missing from Balaji series.

Neither do their love stories seem to make a connection nor do they have a Pablo Escobar who’s rise and ultimate fall is a journey that provides you with the adrenaline rush that makes you want to watch it and keep on going.

Thoughts on Karle Tu Bhi Mohabbat Season 1

Image result for karle tu bhi mohabbat

Series – Karle Tu Bhi Mohabbat
Starring – Ram Kapoor as Karan Khanna, Sakshi Tanwar as Tripurasundari Nagrajan
Created by – Ekta Kapoor
Written by – Reshu Nath
Directed by – Muzammil Desai
Platform – Alt Balaji
Episodes – 7

The much awaited and anticipated platform of the largest soap factory in India, finally took off with the advent of five brand new exclusive shows for the same.

The most talked about, the most buzzed of their new shows was Karle Tu Bhi Mohabbat. Nearly three years after the end of Bade Achhe Lagte Hai, the popular pair of Ram Kapoor and Sakshi Tanwar were making a comeback with the series and fans couldn’t be more excited.

Playing the role of a superstar who refuses to act his age, admit his stardom is fading away and who would rather lose himself at the bottom of a barrel than confront his demons Ram Kapoor returns as Karan Khanna, a divorced man and as of now, a father of a twenty-two year old.

Sakshi, effectively compliments him yet again as Tripurasundari Nagrajan, a 34 year old deaddiction counselor, with a stellar professional career, who on the personal front has no life whatsoever and an OCD to keep herself sanitised at all times. 

The two cross paths when Karan needs to prove himself dependable to be cast as the leading actor in the next project of one Mr. Hirani (A nod to the Munnabhai maker). Aware of his chops and yet weary of his drinking problems, Mr. Hirani makes Karan sign an agreement wherein he agrees to cast him only when Karan gets help for his addiction issues and only when Mr. Hirani is assured of Karan’s recovery shall he sign him on for the movie.

From thereon, the show effectively changes gears and Karan accompanied by Tripurasundari ‘Tipsy’ Nagrajan, heads to Mahabaleshwar to attend the wedding of his estranged daughter and encounters his ex, played by Shweta Kawatra of Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki fame with whom he’s still not amicable.

Slowly Tipsy begins to see the man behind the star, as she witnesses the encounters between Karan and his ex as well as his daughter, who addresses him as Mr. Khanna. In a drunken stupor Karan admits how he’s emotionally stunted, via his admission of failing to fight for anything that concerns him personally despite labelling Tipsy as an emotionally stunted woman before.

The chemistry between the two is exactly the same as BALH, which is to say that these two are just as amazing as before.

It is however the writing of the series that I wish would do better justice to them. Won’t lie but the first four episodes seemed very rushed to me as if they simply wanted to get to the family drama of Karan Khanna’s life and the last three in comparison fared better. 

My biggest grouch with any Balaji series to date, however many I’ve seen has simply been the lack of character development in any of their series. The heroines are always too perfect for prime time tv viewing and the hero a little damaged, nothing the heroine can’t help and heal though. 

This platform however does not work by the same logic. It simply won’t survive if the rules of the game remain the same. Here there are no more channels and their nosey interference or a rat race for a number on a chart. Here is the chance for Ms. Kapoor and company to shine on and prove themselves in all their glory and either fail miserably or succeed spectacularly.

So, I’d love to witness with the progression of the series, more insights into the history of Karan and Tipsy. Be it his descent into alcoholism and the reason why he was so invested in his career that he completely disappeared from the lives of his family and ended up so lonely or why Tipsy is putting up with a hedonistic cousin even as she makes a living by counselling addicts and prides in her success at helping them regain their lives, by making them recover from their addiction/s completely. Or why is she such a spendthrift and moneyminded woman who strangely seems to have trapped herself in a life of routine as though it’s her coping mechanism to deal with her life’s adversities.

What worked for me – the chemistry between Ram and Sakshi, the fact that Tipsy mentions to Karan, he has to work on his personal issues and sort them out to commence his recovery. Seems like there’s some thought put into incorporating the psychological aspects of addiction in the writing; at least I hope that’s the case wholeheartedly.

What didn’t work for me – the humour sometimes didn’t really seem funny, the three old gentlemen who seemed to don’t understand the writing on the wall, the crazy woman stalker and last but not the least watching Shweta Kawatra who for some reason wasn’t convincing enough to me. Also it grated on my nerves after a point whenever the word “behna” popped up in any conversation between the cousins. Thanks to YHM I know at least this that Tamilians address their older sisters as Akka, the honorific for didi… so why can’t Sherry call Tipsy with the same is beyond me and even if they’re trying to show a progressive family, can they simply stop using the word just completely? Please. It’s annoyingly repetitive and no one talks like that for crying out loud in reality. 

The editing is crisp, however I wish the background music wouldn’t be so loud that sometimes hearing the dialogues becomes difficult and the direction is wonderful. 

Also, is the whole Punjabi Tamilian, cross cultural love story the new fascination of Ekta Kapoor or what? After Yeh Hai Mohabbatein, she reused the formula with a little twist in her short lived star plus series Kuch toh hai tere mere darmiyaan and now again two of her webseries – KTMB and R&J, have the same Punjabi Tamilian lovers angle.

I don’t know why Ms. Kapoor is so fascinated by the concept but it’s getting old and I certainly hope that it wouldn’t be used so liberally that it absolutely loses the touch of novelty. 

Would rate this season with no more than 2.5 out of five. And hopefully we get a better idea of how the seasons will be launched over the next few days really, while this would help with quality of content wonderfully, having a clearer picture of things wouldn’t hurt naturally. 

Thoughts on Romil and Jugal Promo.

Years ago, when Dostana, the Abhishek Bachchan, John Abraham and Priyanka Chopra KJo production released in India, the taboo subject of homosexuality found it’s exposure to conversations in the country – between families, friends and sometimes even complete strangers.

The movie was a blockbuster but it dealt with the subject in a manner that provoked humour more than lending gravity to the seriousness of the subject; homosexuals were shown in other movies following Dostana, however not always was the treatment sensitive; more often than not they were the comic relief which I believe is stereotyping these amazing people by branding them and categorising them all as similar.

Sometimes the subject was handled beautifully but didn’t garner the appreciation and attention it deserved, like in the case of Aligarh, the Manoj Bajpayee Rajkumar Rao starrer based on a real character last year.

Television, however so far has mostly shied away from dealing with homosexuality, except for a few notable instances like Star Plus’s former show Maryada and Sony’s Yudh. However that’s not enough, cause sadly those shows didn’t click with the audiences, despite having a stalwart like Amitabh Bachchan starring in Yudh unfortunately.

Hence watching the promo of Romil and Juggal, which rather than poking fun at the two boys in love, is lending sensitivety to  the budding romance between them is sheer delight.

The chemistry between the two boys is quite sweet and cute to watch as are their plights hilarious, the struggles that they have trying to deal with their warring parents, the various girls who are attracted to them. But above all, the conflicts within their own relationship, beginning with the acceptance that has to come from Romil about accepting his own sexuality or later on, coming out as they are to their near and dear ones is the interesting part. Hoping to find their love gains  acceptance and understanding; that they’re the people who these people have always known and loved, nothing changes about them once they discover that they’re two boys in love… with each other.

Thoughts on Dev DD Promo| Director Ken Ghosh | Sanjay Suri, Aasheema Vardhan

Illustration by Hayley Lim via

Society in general is a two-faced hypocrite.

He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut is the mantra that it lives by.

A man’s sexual appetites are considered normal. His wildchild phase a normal part of growing up but were a woman to do the same, experiment with her sexuality, drink or smoke all hell breaks loose. Heck even the use of abusive language in a fit of anger in India, gets her tagged with names of all sorts. Whereas a man using words like motherfucker in his vocabulary doesn’t even cause anyone to bat an eyelid, even if he directs the abuse at his own family. 

So, this brave new offering by the house of Balaji where the female protagonist wishes to defy the rules of society and live life on her own terms, is indeed a bold step in the world of desi TV.  

While Prakash Jha’s Lipstick under a burqa still struggles to see the light of the day in its own country Ms. Ekta Kapoor and company have taken inspiration from one of the greatest classics of Indian literature and flipped it over so completely that Devdas’s tragedy is now the foundation on which is about to begin the journey of Devika Trivedi. 

 

Thoughts on Bewafaa Sii Wafaa Promo| Samir Soni, Dipannita Sharma, Yudhishtar, Aditi Vasudev

The first thought that came to my mind as I heard of the plot-line of this show a couple of weeks/months back was KANK…remember? Yep, the infamous Karan Johar production that was released about a decade ago and was a debacle from the word go.

KANK tanked and KJo, got a shit ton of brickbats to even dare to make a movie which had SRK, the man who is the romantic hero idolized by so many; not just across our country but world, playing the part of the husband who was not faithful to the vows of holy matrimony.

A marriage is the sacred most institution in our Indian culture, even now daily soaps SELL the idea of a perfect couple via the comparisons and talks of couples from mythology. Even if those couples sometimes didn’t enjoy a blissful matrimonial life or couldn’t even end up together, they are considered to be the benchmarks, we should aspire to be.

Something that to be quite honest, never really made sense to me.

And while infidelity in today’s world is so common, so out there, that LOYALTY is a rarity, our society still would like to believe that we don’t live in the age of Tinder, a time when it is easy to succumb to temptation and live out your wildest fantasies.

Samir is lucky to be not saddled with a stereotypical image like SRK, but he is still playing arole similar to his, and sadly society isn’t quite as progressive even now, even after a decade of KANK has passed on seamlessly.

So will this tale of a pair of infidels be accepted even now? That’s the main question.