undekhi

A scene from “Undekhi.” (photo provided)

“Undekhi” has some wonderful storytelling. Deceptively, the base seems to be a cop’s murder in the Sunderbans, and for intrepid Hindi film-loving DSP Ghosh (Dibyendu Bhattacharya), the trail leads all the way to Manali, where a high-end wedding is taking place between NRI Daman Atwal (Ankur Rathee) and a politician’s idealistic daughter Teji (Aanchal Singh).

The pre-wedding festivities are on, and two dancers and a manager of sorts have been invited. The local cops are shown as a combination of incompetent and lazy, and what’s more, are mostly corrupt and under the thumb of Papaji (Harsh Chhaya), the head of the Atwal family, business tycoons who twist everyone from politicians to cops.

Papaji, almost always inebriated, and his darling nephew Rinku (Surya Sharma) have their own extra-legal way of settling scores and taking the law into their own hands, and when a drunk Papaji shoots one of the two dancers Kanak (Apurva Soni) dead as she refuses his advances during the dance, Rinku forces everyone to keep mum and subvert both the truth and the law.

From the video filming team, eyewitness Rishi (Abhishek Chauhan), whose camera has recorded the murder, revolts, and he is threatened and tries to escape—unsuccessfully. Kanak’s associates Koyal (Apeksha Porwal) and Timma (Diwakar Kumar Jha) are captured by Rinku with the idea of them being permanently disposed of, and Rishi is soon incarcerated with them.

Fighting against all those odds, some known, some suspected and some unknown in the beginning, is the doughty DSP, who, as we soon come to know the obvious, has actually come on the dancers’ trail as he suspects their direct involvement in the Sunderbans murder.

The complicated series of events culminate, unfortunately, in an unsatisfactory (for the audience) cliffhanger, where a couple of good men are killed but the evil ones go unpunished. Twists and turns, minor betrayals, ego issues, media corruption, vendetta, blackmail—the usual tropes are there, so we would have loved a gratifying climax.

Sure, this is an easy way forward for Season 2, but as renowned filmmaker Neeraj Pandey said about “Special Ops,” his masterpiece web series streamed on another platform, the audience must be given a finite end. If there is a season to follow, that too must be a complete tale by itself while continuity can be maintained.

Technically good and skillfully directed with most episodes immensely gripping, “Undekhi” is wonderfully enacted, especially by the main players: strictly in order, the roly-poly DSP Ghosh (Dibyendu Bhattacharya is superb beyond words), Papaji (this must be Harsh Chhaya’s most accomplished— and an incredible—performance), Apeksha Porwal as the fiery Koyal, Surya Sharma as the ruthless devil Rinku (a set-piece villain who still impresses with his nuances) and Ayn Zoya as the bitchy Saloni.

Varun Badola, who had penned the dialogues for “Apharan,” is in form again as a dialogues writer and does a fantastic job. But there is a Conditions Apply here: Even more than in that series, there is an excess of expletives (as seen in the recent SonyLIV series “Your Honor” wherein he was only an actor)! This was totally avoidable, though we know that for censor-free web shows, this is ultra-trendy!

Ashish R. Shukla’s direction is assured throughout, even in some rather repetitious sequences that prolong the series (with the end it has, “Undekhi”  could have easily been three episodes short), and a special word for Murzy Pagdiwala’s camerawork, especially in the night shots in the forests.

Go watch this one, if only to realize that this is not the way to set the stage for another season. The series loses a star for this.

Rating: ***1/2

Created by: Siddharth Sengupta

Produced by: Sameer Nair, Siddharth Sengupta & Jyoti Sagar

Directed by: Ashish R. Shukla

Written by: Umesh Padalkar, Siddharth Sengupta, Mohinder Pratap Singh & Varun Badola

Music: Anuj Danait & Shivam Sengupta

Starring: Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Ayn Zoya, Surya Sharma, Aanchal Singh, Abhishek Chauhan, Apeksha Porwal, Harsh Chhaya, Ankur Rathee, Shivam Sengupta, Vaarun Bhagat, Raynu Verma, Meenakshi Soni, Diwakar Kumar Jha & others

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