Crime, politics, and a grand murder mystery — what Disney+ Hotstar’s new release The Great Indian Murder circles around. Directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, the web series is an adaptation of Vikas Swarup’s 2016 bestseller Six Suspects. Swarup is known for his debut novel Q&A, which was later turned into the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire in 2008.
“Sheher chahe kitna bhi bada ho, bade logon ka circle hamesha chhota hi hota hai”, speaks Himanshi Choudhary, who plays the role of Rita Sethi in the series. It is what the Ajay Devgn debut production tracks — the small circles of influential people — and opens with the case of 32-year-old Vicky Rai (played by Jatin Goswami), owner of the Rai Group of Industries and the son of the Home Minister of Chattisgarh, Jagannath Rai. In the very first episode, the handsome devil is murdered at his own party thrown to celebrate his acquittal in a rape and murder case of two minor girls. Six diverse suspects surround the murder, and the plot unfolds to discover the one behind the act.
Along with uninhibited profanity and wanton violence that define Tigmanshu Dhulia’s signature style, the emphasis is placed on building the suspense and unfolding the case headed by investigating officers DCP Sudha Bhardwaj, played by Richa Chadha and CBI officer Suraj Yadav, played by Pratik Gandhi. The web series features other prominent actors, including Ashutosh Rana, Raghuvir Rana, Paoli Dam, and Shashank Arora as primary characters.
With a strong cast, impeccable dialogue delivery, and a good screenplay, power-packed and action-filled performances are promised and delivered. Each character has a story of their own and acts ingeniously to execute their means to an end within the larger plot. Dhulia, however, does not give you a one-man stalwart show with a typical hero or heroine to root for.
The real and possibly good thing about The Great Indian Murder is that it is somewhat like a post-modernist-era work featuring most, if not all, characters as morally compromised, grey figures who are neither absolutely good nor entirely bad. And that’s good relief! Your sentiments as an audience will hardly tie with any one character and instead focus on the series for what it is — a murder mystery. The plot, moreover, is non-linear and abandons the chronological timeline. It makes use of multiple digressions and cliffhangers and steadily ties them all together, thereby keeping the suspense-craving audience in the loop, bound to be invested to know more.
Good and bad
The Great Indian Murder has no hardcore justice seeker, unlike the quintessential crime drama CID. Mohan Kumar, playing Munna, is a thug who uses a Mahatma Gandhi disguise for his benefit. The paradox is the fact that Gandhi is often invoked through songs and imagery, but contrary to this, you can’t find the character actually practising any Gandhian values or ideals.
With the invocation of Gandhi despite the absence of a moral pillar, there is little to no ‘seeking of truth’ happening in The Great Indian Murder. The investigation leads (Richa Chadha and Pratik Gandhi) are not exactly your ideal seekers of law and justice for whatever personal or professional reasons there may be. The only ‘good’ character is Eketi, the tribesman from the Andamans—excellently played by Mani P.R. He is on his quest to retrieve the Ingetayi, the sacred idol of his tribe, and serves as a scapegoat in the plot. Being unaware of the real world, Eketi attracts easy trouble for himself, and our only morally uncompromised character meets an unjustified, tragic end. This inevitably makes the audience wonder that perhaps being good is equivalent to being naive in a cruel world and often has poor returns.
To sum it up, the crime drama is nothing new but still entertaining. It dangles on a tightrope, doing a balancing act with just enough gas to keep you watching. From the plot, its iffy twists, the characters with their interests and conflicts to the politics — all has been done before. Richa Chadha comes off well with her strong, no-nonsense female cop character, but this isn’t anything that the Indian audience hasn’t seen before. The Gandhi personality and slum thief who dreams big, takes some limelight along with the unworldly Eketi who undeniably adds to the drama. But the rest of the bunch of corrupt politicians and goons, affluent Delhiites and compromised bureaucrats take up only functionary roles that motion the series but do not necessarily leave an impact.
The Great Indian Murder, thus, has an aspect of watchability as it employs the regular tools and tropes of a tried-and-tested small-town political drama. Sparks that couldn’t turn into a blazing fire is what can be said to describe the show. Yet, it is sprinkled with enough nuggets of head-scratching mystery and fragments building towards answering the great question — who killed Vicky Rai?
(Edited by Humra Laeeq)
Source: The Print