Where have shows like Dahaad disappeared? For the ones that belong to the category of being an old-school classic slow burn without being boring - this is a category that has the rarest names and even more rare are the ones that are good.
At a time where web shows try to incorporate big moments, reveals, mega twists and cliffhangers in order to keep you, the viewer, invested for the long runtime of about 8 to 9 hours, Dahaad does nothing of that sort. But is that good or does it become an issue for this Amazon Prime Video series? Having had the chance to the see the entire show, here is what I thought about it-
It's Iike a Visual Book, Not a Series
There is a certain purity and authenticity attached to Dahaad from frame one till the end. Throughout the eight hours that you are watching the show, it isn't a whodunit because you are shown who actually is doing it. The fun and core lies in how the person is doing it, what is the person doing and then about outsmarting the cops on more ocassions than one.
It is one of the most done-and-dusted tropes in motion viewing but directors and creators - Reema Kagti, Ruchika Oberoi and Zoya Akhtar make sure that isn't what you feel while watching it. Every episode, every scene acts out like an engaging book which is making a gradual progress towards the endgame - it is there when you realise that the journey to the finale is going to be amazing and not necessarily the finale itself.
Coming to the principal cast and when you have some of the finest talents at your perusal, it takes a royal misfire to go wrong. Fortunately, it doesn't. Sohum Shah as S.I. Kailash Parghi has the most interesting professional and personal conflicts to play with and Shah does a brilliant job in portraying the same. I did have an issue with his character development in the end but I will get to that later.
Then comes the face that holds the place in the form of Sonakshi Sinha - easily her career best, Sinha seems to be in her element constantly as Anjali Bhatti. From being a headstrong female cop in a man's world to fighting societal problems, casteism and so on, Sinha does all of it with marvellous finesse. The actor, who is usually known for her commercial projects mentioned about feeling liberated as an actor here and it shows in the best way.
Vijay Varma - what do we talk about this man that hasn't been said already. Once again, being the 'bad guy', Varma is absolutely brilliant right from the get-go. But this part might just be the trickiest for him to play than the ones he has so far, owing to how you know his antics and he still has to make his actions believable but charming, his acts vicious but still add a minor backstory to give it gravitas. All these intricacies are expertly portayed by the actor.
Gulshan Devaiah as Devilal Singh
But my favourite, also why I give him a special portion here is Gulshan Devaiah as Devilal Singh. In this world of nothing but gruesome murders, caste discrimination and so on, Devilal Singh is the shining star you adore and respect from the first instance to the last. If anyone ever asks you how a man needs to be, even more a man who isn't necessarily living the 'urban life' - tell them to be like Devilal Singh. Devaiah does an impeccable job as Devilal Singh, who, inspite of being one of the best people in this devious world has his set of conflicts personally to deal with. And the actor shines on portraying that with grace and subtlety.
We have the masters of character writing at work here in the form of Akhtar and Kagti, and even though not entirely, both the becomes obvious in a lot of ways. The writing of characters with lesser screen presence is brilliant be it, Zoa Morani as Anand's wife, Vandana or Manyuu Doshi as Anand's brother, Shiv - inspite of not being the principal characters, they get satisfactory arcs to portray contributing to the entire storyline.
The Things That Didn't Work
It isn't all hunky Dory for Dahaad where firstly, the decision to make it a slow burn might act as a backfire as well where this doesn't necessarily become palatable for everyone.
But more importantly, as mentioned above about Sohum's Parghi - as amazing as his character arc initially is with personal and professional struggles - only his personal arc is given a good development to justify whereas towards the finale, his presence in the professional setting gets almost too less which didn't seem fair to him (Parghi).
Even with Sonakshi's Anjali Bhatti, as good as some intricacies are with the role - two aspects seemed rather underwhelming and undercooked. Her no strings attached bond with Sunny which didn't seem to contribute much to her character per se and her confrontations with her mother, Devki (Jayati Bhatia). The one big moment between the mother and daughter which comes after Anjali has had enough of her mother's nagging felt rather underwhelming and even more, unfair to Devki.
Inspite of a few gaps, Dahaad is the kind of show, I believe can go on either extremes - there might be ones who crave a slow burn like and might be hooked on it constantly and then there are people who might not find the grip to be stuck to it a couple of episodes into it. Nevertheless, for me, Dahaad was a fine experience of viewing where I felt like reading a visual book where the journey was the one that matter and not the destination.
Rating - ***1/2 (3.5/5)