Cast: Karan Tacker, Avinash Tiwary, Ashutosh Rana, Nikita Dutta, Abhimanyu Singh, Ravi Kishan & Ensemble.
Creator: Neeraj Pandey.
Director: Bhav Dhulia.
Streaming On: Netflix.
Language: Hindi (with subtitles).
Runtime: 7 Episodes Around 60 Minutes Each.
Khakee: The Bihar Chapter Review: What’s It About:
Based On Bihar Diaries, a book by Amit Lodha about the espionage to arrest one of the biggest criminals in Bihar, Chandan Mahto. The 7-episode series explores the rise of a gangster that led to his descent.
Khakee: The Bihar Chapter Review: What Works:
Writer-director-producer Neeraj Pandey endorses a type of content where he exactly knows the balance to make investigative espionages as he does. Be it his acclaimed movie Special 26, or his most recent Special Ops, he has found a niche so to say. Khakee: The Bihar Chapter, though an adaptation of a book based on a real-life story, one could see the style of the filmmaker unfolding every time there is a turn. It is like he finds you off guard and decides to give you the biggest shocks. Not many this time, but about that later.
Written with Umashankar Singh with Pandey, and directed by Bhav Dhulia, The Bihar Chapter relies a lot on the source material and which it should. Through the minor details of women singing in a particular way at a wedding, to the caste-based politics and divide, or when a higher level police officer cries about how laptops are smaller than desktops and that will lower his materialistic standard without understanding that the former is superior. These details help a lot in building the world and elevating the entire story for the audience. The good part is that they take a lot of time to set the stories of the two men who are about to stand against each other in a minute.
On one side is a man marginalized because of the community he belongs to and is deprived of a good livelihood. When he realizes that being righteous is not bringing him bread but the power that comes with a gun does, he chooses the gun over his sanity. The moment where he makes the choice is shot so clearly that he doesn’t end up being just a villain killing people, but a demon created by the same system that is dreading him now. There are layers to him that keep revealing themselves. Good, bad, and ugly, but they end up making a three-dimensional character rather than a one-tone villain.
Not at par, but similarly, there is an honest attempt to shape IPS Amit Lodha too. He doesn’t like the system he is a part of but has no choice but to blend into all of it. He takes some wrong routes, just enough that they don’t qualify as a crime, and paves his way. The show never reveals the caste/community he belongs to because at one point even that becomes fodder for politics. The makers don’t oversimplify things by doing so and it is a good touch.
Khakee: The Bihar Chapter Review: Star Performance:
One thing that Khakee gets right is the casting. Karan Tacker as Amit Lodha evolves so much as an actor. For someone who has the most screen time in an almost seven-hour-long show, he impresses by never seeming weak in the character he builds at the beginning. While he did deserve some catharsis and personal moments where he is vulnerable giving a gateway into him, the actor does nothing wrong on his end.
Avinash Tiwary seems to be on a roll and there seems to be no way he is going wrong at least right now. He plays the antagonist here who is layered and does complete justice to the part. While he does heinous things, you will still be interested in his redemption. The redemption though is very dramatized and not up to the mark.
Rest everyone does their part right and Jatin Sarna takes home the trophy to be the most believable among everyone else.
Khakee: The Bihar Chapter Review: What Doesn’t Work:
While there is no problem in following the staple road map for an investigation thriller, what feels underwhelming is when it all ends up looking familiar. In Khakee, there are moments of twists and unthinkable turns, but they are few and the rest all just looks like we have seen them already.
The fact that the real showdown begins somewhere in episode 5 and till then these are two different worlds occasionally blending into each other, makes it even more transparent and the convenience and repetitive bit gets highlighted. The use of montages that looks half-hearted intensifies the said problem and one cannot ignore it post that.
The show is set in the early 2000s and the world looks like that. But the setup is so in your face that it doesn’t seem organic. Because there is also connect between the many locations because for a story set in Bihar, the places do not look like a part of the same landscape. Not just that, the show is even filled with inconsequential characters that make little to no sense and end up being nothing other than small plot devices. Take Nikita’s Tanu for instance, her only existence is for Chandan to trigger Amit by saying bad things about her.
Also, why is everything in a hurry ending up making the entire thing rushed? Not just the screenplay, but even the editing seems to be incomplete many times. Some scenes feel like they are left incomplete. You don’t know what happened after that and neither are the makers interested in showing you the after-effects. And that is also the same with the drama quotient that fluctuates unnecessarily at times. Especially the last 15 minutes are the most unrequired bits.
Khakee: The Bihar Chapter Review: Last Words:
It is a standard Neeraj Pandey product but we have seen a lot of it in the past couple of years. Maybe a more nuanced approach might have done wonders.
Yet to watch Sumeet Vyas’ new show? Red our Tripling Season 3 Review here.