MUMBAI — No film with this title, which means either a veil or a mask in varying contexts, has worked, from the 1955 Shammi Kapoor misadventure to the 1989 Rishi Kapoor flop and the 2007 Bobby Deol film. Maybe the makers thought that a spelling change from “Naqab” and “Naqaab” to “Nakaab” would work. But what if the quality of the web series is far, far lower than ALL the three films? The 1989 film at least had brilliant music and the 2007 film wasn’t all that bad. And even a pre-fame Shammi Kapoor had the ethereal Madhubala for company!
But let’s face it, even the term “bad” has some standard, compared to worse terms like pathetic and terrible. And this series is pathetic and terrible!
A colleague argued that it was a gender-flip version of the whole SSR imbroglio. I personally do not agree. But surely, something of that, by way of treatment, was there in the director’s mind, in terms of the media brouhaha, the sordid rumors and guesswork, and the basic question of whether a celebrity’s sudden death was suicide, murder or accident, the last-mentioned ruled out in SSR’s demise but relevant here.
This time round, it’s a famous TV actress, Vibha (Ankitaa Chakraborty) who falls to a death from a height, and producer Zohra (Mallika Sherawat), a cold-blooded vixen who can even stymie police investigations, is one of the suspects. The lady too seems to be modeled on a popular TV czarina, except that this real and very famous person is nowhere as callous, cruel or narcissistic.
For some reason, investigating officer Aditi Amre (Esha Gupta, looking incredibly blank oftener than not) pockets the victim’s phone, and discovers over-candid footage in it, complete with sex sequences and unabashed self-pitying scenes shot from professional and varied angles! Aditi then starts making notes and at one point has to share confidences with her superior (Gautam Rode), himself a disgraced police officer who is assigned the case for convenience of his superiors and to assuage the media’s follow-up.
And so on…to the media sensationalizing it all with screaming news anchors, the oh-so-monotonous repeated watching by Aditi of Vibha’s TV footage, the drugs element and more. Eight episodes down, you actually heave a sigh of relief and pat yourself on the back that you escaped the sleep-inducing effects of a series that could have driven you into a stupor with its sheer imbecility and poverty of original, forget riveting, thought. Pat on the back, did I say? Well, don’t know if dozing off would have relieved the painful experience of watching it all!
Mallika Sherawat is truly irritating as Zohra, more so than what the character should come across. Esha Gupta looks miserable most of the time, and Gautam Rode overdoes his angry act. Ankita Chakraborty’s close-ups should have been avoided. The rest of the cast does not matter.
There is no “direction” and little by way of a sensible, gripping or hard-hitting script. In fact, the makers should offer a prize for all those who sit through the relentless tedium.
Rating: * (That too, just about!)
Produced by: Jagdish Mulchandani, Saurabh Bhowal & Soumya Mukhopadhyay
Directed by: Soumik Sen
Written by: Soumik Sen & Saurav Mohapatra
Music: Diptarka Bose
Starring: Malliak Sherawat, Esha Gupta, Gautam Rode, Ankitaa Chakraborty, Bharat Kaul, Pranay Narayan, Manav Sachdev, Amitabha Bhattacharya, Arjun Shrivastav, Chandra Shekhar, Paromita Mukherjee, Kartikey Tripathi, Alkaria Hashmi, Ananya Pal Bhattacharya & others