Alongside making series on real-life events, making fictionalised espionage thrillers is also becoming a trend in the web show universe. Saqib Saleem and Shriya Pilgaonkar‘s Crackdown releasing on Voot Select is a safe move in catering its target audience. But, does it overpower or take ahead the content in the same genre we have already seen? Let’s discuss.
Cast: Saqib Saleem, Shriya Pilgaonkar, Iqbal Khan, Rajesh Tailang, Waluscha De Sousa, Ankur Bhatia and ensemble.
Available On: Voot Select
Crackdown Review: What’s It About?
Crackdown revolves around a covert operations wing that tries to crack through multiple smaller decoys to uncover a larger conspiracy that threatens national security. In the process, they find an able ally in a girl whose identity remains a mystery. The quest in finding her identity, while saving the nation for real, makes the plot of the show.
Crackdown Review: What Works?
Unlike many semibiographical shows in recent times, this one is not based on any real-life incidence as far as I know. Even if it is, I am not aware of it. So the review is about the ‘fictional’ story.
Generally, I don’t begin my review talking about performances, but here I should. Shriya Pilgaonkar in Crackdown is the one thing that kept me hooked throughout. For the only character who got a proper backstory and not just bits and pieces, Pilgaonkar impresses in what she does.
Coming to the show, espionage thrillers are where the audience enter with a high suspense quotient and a brain ready to solve mysteries. Writer Suresh Nair (credited for story and screenplay both) understands that and gives you a character whose identity is a complete mystery. We meet a girl pointing a gun to her head without fear, what’s her story? Crackdown begins with a mission around this mysterious girl and it is engaging.
Directed by Apoorva Lakhia, the whole premise around ‘the girl’ played by Shriya stays interesting. Credit to the writer and the actor for keeping it engaging. Lakhia, who for the significant part, focuses on this girl has taken a different route in his directing style. For the unaware, Apoorva is the man behind films like Haseena (2017) and Shootout At Lokhandwala (2007). The filmmaker has toned down his drama quotient in Crackdown to almost half.
How does that help? With a surge in the number of thrillers, the audience has become clever. The thin line between drama with meaty story and just baseless drama is observed not only by the critics but the audience too. Lakhia with Suresh Nair does a wise job in toning down his staple drama quotient.
Crackdown Review: What Doesn’t Work?
Let’s just say it loud, SHIFT IN FOCUS. While we enter this thriller with ‘Who this girl is?’, it is solved by the third episode and begins the fight to save the country. And this is where the screenplay takes a downwards ride too.
Once you are introduced who the said girl is, Crackdown becomes predictable, moreover staple. At this point, it becomes a safe attempt in giving its target audience what they crave for, action, fire, dialogues with a pinch of drama.
A classic example of espionage is the recently released Specials Ops that starred KK Menon. It also had a quest to find a man, but there the characters alongside lead and secondary were also given stories that made us invest in them.
Crackdown does give the characters their stories, but they are most probably stereotypes. Saqib Saleem gets layers about his health condition, a broken marriage, time in Pakistani remand, but nothing creates an impact. Because these are just the points shown to you here and there, they don’t really create impact on the present.
Iqbal Khan, who plays the baddie for the significant part, has the most stereotypical jealous guy role. His favourite job is abusing at length and saying ‘Why don’t I know this?’ at various points in the eight-episode run. For a RAW Officer, he was way too clueless and that looked funny.
Dialogues by Chintan Gandhi do not make much difference to the sinking ship. When Saqib in the first episode says, “Baarat Aane Wali Hai, Sambhal Lene” after an encounter, we have heard something similar before, and now it doesn’t evoke anything.
Also Lakhia and team, why is Shriya Pilgaonkar allowed to be in ‘top secret’ RAW meetings? I know her involvement in the case but isn’t that too much suspension of disbelief to expect from a woke viewer, who has an idea that isn’t how it works?
Crackdown Review: Last Words:
All in all, Crackdown is a staple content that is partially impactful and partially predictable. Watch it if espionage (a word I used multiple times) excites you. But go in with no expectations or an eye for comparison. If you want a better recommendation in the genre, watch Special Ops after or before this one, and thank me later.
Crackdown Review: Star Rating: 2.5/5 Stars (Two and a half star)