Dahan - Raakan Ka Rahasya
When Indiana Jones meets All of us are Dead meets Stranger Things :- we can say Dahan - Raakan Ka Rahasya is born.
Seldom do we come along shows these days that have minimal buzz going into it and then turn out to be a pleasant surprise of a package. And it is safe to say that Dahan - Raakan Ka Rahasya almost qualifies in that category but not entirely. The show starring a long ensemble cast led by the likes of Tisca Chopra, Saurabh Shukla, Mukesh Tiwari and others is now streaming and having had the chance to see all the nine episodes before hand, here is what I thought of it-
Intriguing World Building
The one-liner plot for Dahan actually summarises the entire thing well - A disgraced IAS Officer sets out to vindicate herself and takes up a strange case in Shilaspura, a land with occult practices. Chopra plays Avni Raut, the aforementioned IAS Officer who has come in Shilaspura and while the entire village seems to be convinced about occult happenings powering things, Avni is a practical and modern woman who doesn't believe any of this and just wants to focus on mining in the village which would lead to its development.
The first episode actually tries to go with a different route and becomes very information dense where at one point, two characters are only talking for the longest time as one explains the back story to the other. This starts off as being intriguing but quickly leads to losing interest until the next couple of episodes kick in. Credit to the makers in taking the route to invest in world building at a gradual pace rather than bombarding with information which is anyway rather heavy to digest. This is propelled by well-shot sequences and brilliant visual aid.
Occult Science Meets Logic
There have been plenty of presentations in the past on occult practices and paranormal activities. In India especially, the idea of the same becomes rather limited to a stereotypical portrayal of the same. But Dahan - Raakan Ka Rahasya deep dives into the concept and tries to make it so dense to consume that it ends up being a fascinating tale attached with plenty of shocking moments. Avni Raut is basically us - trying to remain logical in this world of madness but gradually seeps into it after experiencing unthinkable things. The show smartly tackles the never-ending debate of these two extreme ends of the topic inspite of some moments of outlandishness.
Some of the Best Special Effects and Production Design
One of the biggest and most pleasant surprises for me in Dahan - Raakan Ka Rahasya was its scale of production and the VFX used in an array of scenes throughout the show. Not once is there any feeling that you are just watching 'another show' on a streaming service. The design and production scale is as fantastic as any big-budget show in India. Especially the scenes in caves, underground etc, the magnitude of every shot seems to be taken after a lot of time and money investment. Another aspect that I was blown away by is the usage of VFX. As, everyone talks about Brahmastra and its ground-breaking special effects on the big screen, I cannot stress enough how brilliant is the team here for a series on a platform. Every sequence which has any CGI involved is spot-on and especially the finale has some of the best effects I have been on any Indian show in the longest time.
Same Old Problem
This one factor seems to be a vicious continuation that doesn't seem to be ending anytime soon - the format of presenting a lot of episodes with long runtimes. To be able to have a long list of episodes with long duration has to be justified by its writing. And while the writing team of Shiva Shankar Bajpai, Nisarg Mehta and Nikhil Nair do a good job overall, it isn't enough to justify its long running. The show clocks nine episodes with a minimum of 45 minutes plus with some even clocking 50+ minutes. Even though the entirety of this world is intriguing and fascinating, this long run does become a hindrance after a point of time and only takes big moments to suck you back in.
I love OTT especially when you see a show like Dahan - Raakan Ka Rahasya. The ensemble cast of this show is so alluring that it presents the best of the best acting talent headlining a big show. At the helm of things, Tisca Chopra masterfully handles the show in its pride where from being a proud and no-nonsense IAS officer initially, while struggling with her personal demons; her shift to the other side is the display of a great performance. Veteran Saurabh Shukla is in top form and it is so amazing to see him getting his due as an actor here as a central character.
But for me, the standout of the show has to be Mukesh Tiwari as Bhairo Singh. Having multiple shades to portray, Tiwari has such a presence about himself that he can pull off anything given to him. The man, who is known as 'Vasooli' from the Golmaal series reminds us that he is such a capable actor. Other than that, Rohan Joshi, Rajesh Tailang and others play their parts well but hey, it was so good to see TV man Ankur Nayyar get a pound role to play here. Again, the man has such a charm and a request out there to everyone to cast him in as many big projects as possible, please.
In the end, Dahan - Raakan Ka Rahasya walks a tightrope of trying to make occult science fathomable with practical application but it is the fantastic VFX, fabulous world-building, big-scale production design and towering performances that definitely make the show a worthy watch.
Rating - ***1/2 (3.5/5)ALSO READ: 'Koffee With Karan 8' first guests promo: Ranveer & Deepika arrive in all-black set to create a stir