Cast: Siddharth, Sumedh Mudgalkar, Jaaved Jaaferi, Shweta Tripathi Sharma, Plabita Borthakur, and ensemble.
Creator: Siddharth Kumar Tewary.
Director: Siddharth Kumar Tewary.
Streaming On: Disney+ Hotstar.
Language: Hindi (with subtitles)
Runtime: 9 Episodes Around 50 Minutes Each.
Escaype Live Review: What’s It About:
An app named Escaype Live from the Chinese influence lands in the Indian market. It advices people to make ‘content’ and in return, it pays them if the audience likes and showers them with virtual diamonds. The app goes one step ahead when it announces a competition that will churn out 3 crores for whoever wins it. Many from the fancy lanes of Mumbai to the adolescent from the Heartland India begin their grind to win and take a dark turn regardless of the outcome.
Escaype Live Review: What Works:
For the last couple of years, we have lived through an app that made us all kinds of content creators. We all know TikTok, even if you cringed at the thought of it as I do, we all are guilty of having the curiosity to know what it is. Suddenly many unknown faces were stars, many hit to fame overnight and there were sources of income generated through different aspects of content creation. Escaype Live that hits Disney+ Hotstar is a dramatized take on the same reality we all have lived. Its impact on ones who thought it defines their life and also the ones who surrendered to it without using their brains.
Written by Jaya Misra and Ranveer Pratap Singh, the strength of Escaype Live is in the depth of each story that it explores. There is a 10-year-old girl played by Aadyaa Sharma, who falls prey to the glitz and glamour of the world. But lesser does she know she will be the prey for many who will earn at her cost. Her childhood is stolen when her uncle gives her growth hormone injections so she could look like a grown up woman soon and lure people to bring him big money. Her innocence doesn’t understand all of that and the arrogance given by the popularity of the app makes her even more blind.
There is a transwoman stuck in a male body played by an amazing Rohit Chandel. Placed in Banaras, his biggest task is to make the world understand his condition. He takes the refuge of the night and creates videos disguised as woman and gets popular. His story is the most impressive in the show. Because the pain is raw and unexplored. Add Shweta Tripathi and it only elevates. So is Plabita Borthakur’s Hina who is exploited by her own boss because she is from the North East and that allows her oppressor to overpower her.
The heart of Escaype Live lies in these stories that are human and moving. We all have read, met, and even lived with people going through these problems. There are emotions and a mother is confused about what she has put her little daughter into. There is anger when a patriarchal brother tells his sister to cover her bust with a dupatta even when she has stepped out just to bid him bye. It all seems nicely researched and lived.
Escaype Live Review: Star Performance:
The casting department excels in casting actors who first seem a misfit to this world, but blend in beautifully. Aadyaa and Sumed Mudgalkar as Darkie are my most favourite. The former brings a lot of pain even when she isn’t necessarily the one feeling it. The vibe around Aadyaa is always traumatising because a childhood is being scarified and the actor compliments it all. Mudgalkar is a revelation. On risk of becoming a caricature he brings out the entire eccentricity in him and plays Darkie with all the conviction.
How is Shweta Tripathi Sharma capable of playing every Banaras girl differently? I have lost the count of how many times she has played a girl from the city of Ganges. Rohit Chandel gets to play a very complex part and is also walking the thin line of creating another caricature but gets saved. Siddharth plays his part with a lot of conviction. Because this might look like an easy character, this isn’t him in real life, not even close.
Plabita Borthakur as well, she gets to play a character that the world desires on screen, but off it, she is only pushed into a pool of exploitation. Jaaved Jaaferi doesn’t have much of the heavy lifting, he plays his part as he is expected to.
Escaype Live Review: What Doesn’t Work:
The bigger picture. While all these stories seem amazing, moving and disturbing individually, in one thread they all don’t sit together right. There is a void for something more always. While some places look largely empty, many parts are overstuffed and you can feel it.
I wish there was more time invested in exploring Siddharth’s orthodox approach because it does represent a larger regressive section. Also it could have only enhanced the impact.
Also, the UI of the app looked too dated. I don’t, know, it could just be me but I have already seen a lot of this to invest any more in an interface that looks like this. Also, some lazy decisions do make things look illogical. Be it Darkie roaming around so freely or adding the inter-religion relationship just for the sake of it. It all only loosens the grip
Escaype Live Review: Last Words:
You can give it a chance if you are in the mood for some dark content that might make you uncomfortable. But don’t go in with too many expectations.
Fan of slice of life drama? Read our Pet Puraan Review here.