MUMBAI — Remember the 2003 “Kuchh To Hai?” It was co-directed by Anil V. Kumar and Anurag Basu, both TV directors then with Balaji Telefilms. Basu went on to be a big name in movies,.but Kumar vanished from the big screen. He remained in TV as a successful name and now forays into the web with this praiseworthy concept of five completely different stories that have a common thread: a visit to the red-light area.
However, while the idea is good, the episodes are a mixed bag. The first one, “Rupanataran” (Metamorphosis) and the last, “Aakhari Raat” (The Last Night) are praiseworthy, but the remaining ones are like fillers, even if they too have good ideas that do not translate into punch-packed or even substance-heavy stories.
Written, thus, unevenly by Pulkit Rishi and Prakhar Vihaan, and directed adequately, the 5-episode series could have really packed a wallop with its sympathetic look at sex workers. Yes, the grime in these places is replaced by glamour in a whopping dollop of cinematic license, but we would rather focus on the content and the emotional interplay.
“Rupantaran” takes a look at a young man Rudra (Avinash Mukherjee), who realizes that his mother (Pyomuri Mehta Ghosh) was a sex worker. He loses his cool and heads to Kolkata’s red-light area to vent out his anger and frustration. He meets Nishaat (Barkha Bisht Sengupta), the “best” prostitute in the brothel and she and her tiny tot, in the brief chain of events that follow, make Rudra realize his stupidly. Will his mother forgive him now?
The last episode, “Aakhari Raat” is about a blind beauty Naina (Mansi Shrivastava) who must be given a special last customer as she is leaving the brothel the next morning to lead a respectable life and has her life’s savings ready. Fundamentally, this is a rather odd event at a brothel of so many girls and the madams they work under, but the last man chosen for her is a conman (Mohammed Iqbal Khan) on the run, who has decided that he will surrender to the police the days he meets his match. And he realizes that the blind Naina (which means eyes) can see through everything about him.
In-between, the three episodes have little pith: an old man (Sudhir Pandey), tied up with life’s responsibilities, seeks sexual pleasure after years and gets more than what he bargained for. A spurned wrestler (Parag Tyagi) just wants sexual release after being released from jail after being framed by his girlfriend’s family. A young boy (Indresh Malik), set for lead a celibate life as a priest from the next day, is told by his friend to experience sex just once, and cannot forget it. This episode has an open end that tries to add a new dimension.
The dialogues are quite direct and what might be perversely disappointing for some will be the lack of overt profanities and sexual sequences for a show centering around sex workers. The serial has some decent performances in all the episodes, right from Barkha Bisht in “Rupantaran” to Mansi Shrivatsava as Naina. Avinash Mukherjee as Rudra, Rehyna Pandit as Katrina and Sudhir Pandey as the old man also impress. Mohammed Iqbal Khan is good.
If you are undemanding, go for it. Otherwise, skip the three episodes between and just the first and the last one.
Produced by Anil V. Kumar & Vandana Anil Sharma
Directed by: Anil V. Kumar
Written by: Pulkit Rishi & Prakhar Vihaan
Music: Lalit Sen
Starring: Barkha Bisht, Avinash Mukherjee, Pyomuti Mehta Ghosh, Sudhir Pandey, Anju Mahendru, Shiny Doshi, Parag Tyagi, Rennee Dhyani, Indresh Malik, Supriya Shukla, Ashutosh Pandey, Akashdeep Arora, Mohit Arora, Reyhna Pandit, Mohammed Iqbal Khan, Mansi Shrivastava & others