Saas, Bahu Aur Flamingo
Created And Directed - Homi Adajania
A drug queenpin with an all-female army who makes and exports the cleanest drug possible - Flamingo; having a director with an original voice like that of Homi Adajania and of course, some of the finest female talents in India - the recipe to make Saas, Bahu aur Flamingo seemed perfect from the get-go.
Add to that, a twisted storyline with more and more reveals coming along, brilliantly written and etched-out characters, who aren't necessarily even in the principal cast - not much seemed to be going wrong for the Disney+ Hotstar series. But does it deliver as a whole? Having had the chance to see the entire series beforehand, here is what I what thought about it-
A hardcore action thriller about a matriarch Savitri or Rani Ba (Dimple) running her drug cartel in disguise of Rani Corporative with the help of daughter (Radhika), a adopted son (Udit Arora) and her daughter in laws Isha Talwar and Angira Dhar.
Savitri also has two sons, played by Ashish Verma and Varun Mitra, the duo lives overseas and doesn’t know anything about the business.
Shaped by heartbreaks, poverty, and betrayal of people, she once had a life, a family, a husband, but while pregnant with her third child, she was raped, tortured and beaten to death, and he husband being murdered in front of her eyes, left her no choice but to deal with the world with a strong hand and brutality.
The story is set in a dystopian world, which is made believable by maverick filmmaker Homi Adajania, who has woven an intricate saga of love, lust, power, drugs and women empowerment, around a family, which is flawed, yet relatable.
The series starts in a nightclub, where a young kid overdoses on a drug called flamingo, he turns out to be Deputy CM’s son and she launches a full scale hunt to bring down everyone involved in creating the drugs, in this case it happens to be Savitri.
We are introduced to Monk or the Ice-pick killer (Deepak Dobriyal), a formidable and menacing adversary who just wants to kill Savitri, and he is making plans and gathering forces to attack Savitri’s home.
On one hand, Savitri is being hunted by police and Monk, while her own family is fighting for the throne, what happens next, makes up the series.
Talented Female Actors Getting Their Due
The biggest triumph for this show has to be the fact that some of the finest female actors we have in in this country - finally get their due here in such amazingly written characters. Take actors like Isha Talwar and Angira Dhar for instance, we have seen them shine with a few minimal roles here and there but this was the perfect instance to flex their acting chops and they do so with finesse. Both these actors have such a complete graph to play as Bijli and Kajal respectively and it is an absolute delight to see them. Then we have the now-reliable Radhika Madan, who continues to make bold choices when it comes to her roles in films or shows and it pays off here as well.
However, coming in as no surprise, this series is a Dimple Kapadia show all-the-way. As the matriarch of this drug mafia, who has witnessed a troublesome past, Kapadia has indeed given her career-best performance here. And this is saying something considering the veteran has a career spanning four decades. She is fierce, ferocious but vulnerable and subtle when it is needed to be as Savitri Devi aka Raniba.
Apart from the superb and layered performances from the entire ensemble, the screenplay of the series is strong and well-crafted, with strong and established characters. The life line of this series is its writing and character, which will leave an impression on the audiences.
Doesn't Compromise on the Writing of other Characters
Most female-led shows that have come along in recent times suffer from a common problem - in an attempt to make it 'female-led,' they seemingly compromise on the story and characterisation of other males in that world to an extent that the intended feminism feels forced. That is, fortunately, not the case with Saas, Bahu Aur Flamingo. The male characters here are well-written and also given their own arcs which seem justified in this otherwise female-dominated world.
Actors Varun Mitra and Ashish Verma, who plays the sons to Raniba have such fascinating traits to play with and they go through their own journey. Apart from them, the actor, who plays the Munim to this family, Naseeruddin Shah in a cameo and show-stealer, Jimit Trivedi as investigating officer Prosen are all fabulous.
The Deliciousness of Internal Family Drama
The twisted hoops that the plot of Saas, Bahu Aur Flamingo goes through - especially with the dysfunctional family drama internally is what makes the show as entertaining as it is. Amid other drug lords being at loggerheads with Savitri, an investigating officer being at the cusp of finding the big secret, it is the internal politics with Raniba's family that make for delicious viewing.
As Radhika Madan's Shanta says in a scene ' ek time tha jab iss parivar ke log ek dusre ke liye jaan de sakte the lekin aapke khel ki vajah se ab ek dusre ki jaan lene pe tule hai' (there was a time when people would kill for each other but due to your games, people now want to kill each other). That definitely sums up things!
Special mentions to cinematographer Linesh Desai, production-designers Bindiya Chhabria and Arvind Kumar and costume designer Maxima Basu deserve a standing ovation as they created an incredibly real dystopian world. The music score created by Sachin-Jigar offers a very unique soundscape that enhances the viewing experience of this spectacle.
Some Big Gaps That Cannot Be Missed
It seems like the fine actor that Deepak Dobriyal is - he somehow keeps getting these on-paper fascinating characters to play but the execution and writing is always haphazard. After facing something like that in Bholaa, Dobriyal plays another bad guy here who is constantly labelled 'monk', - he was a weird character trait that just seems eccentric but not justified and doesn't get much to do as well.
Apart from this, the slugging pacing of the show also becomes an inevitable factor owing to clocking eight episodes around 50 minutes each. There are huge gaps in between where a few plot developments seem to be only have been inserted to justify the long runtime, which it doesn't.
Saas, Bahu Aur Flamingo is tailor-made for the web where the concept is gritty and dark, the action and execution is stylized and there is just too much goodness to be incorporated which cannot be done in a film. Watching Dimple Kapadia and the entire female cast kick ass, fire guns and handle a drug mafia is just fabulous motion picture viewing.
The show is a dark, sensual and power seductive drama which is an absolute delight to watch!
Rating - ***1/2 (3.5/5)