By Joginder Tuteja
What a time it is turning out to be the world of Indian web series on the OTT platform. Considering this is the lockdown period, thankfully the ones which are deserving are indeed finding quite some eyeballs and attention for themselves. Undekhi is one such web series that spreads across 10 episodes and turns out to be such an engaging dramatic thriller that you don’t have a choice but to binge watch it from start to finish.
inspired by the true events from a few years back when during a celebratory event a drunk man shot a female dancer from a close range, hence taking her life, Undekhi covers a lot more distance than what the premise may suggest. An excellent mix of fact & fiction, it goes beyond picking up from the headlines that stunned the nation and actually brings to fore the sheer audacity of a section of rich and powerful who put no price on the lives of others, whether poor or rich.
‘Woh mujhe keh raha tha ki kal raat maine kisi ko goli maari di thi. Achcha, to police iss wajah se ghar mein hai? O koyi nahi, chinta ki baat hi nahi, Rinku sambhal lega.’
Intoxicated by a lethal mix of power and liquor, the character played by Harsh Chhaya – in his meanest on-screen presence till date – says this with utmost disregard for any civilized society and believes that everything can be handled by money. He is someone who is rich, powerful, uncouth, fowl mouthed and perpetually drunk. So much so that he has a Man Friday (actually Man All Weekdays) following him even when he is off for a leak, as the moment he is through with it, he needs a drink in hand.
With the stage and setting as that of a Punjabi patriarch inviting his entire family to his resort in Manali for the wedding of his only son [Ankur Rathee], his heart truly beats for his adopted son [Surya Sharma], fondly (as well as with fear) called as Rinku paaji. He is one son who is Mr. Fix It for everything legitimate as well as illegitimate, come flood and storm.
No wonder, though majority of tales are about Ram or Krishna, this is about Raavan and Karan. Imagine if Ravan had Karan on his side instead of Vibheeshan, then how Ramayan would have turned out to be? Well, this is what Undekhi is as instead of taking the politically correct route, this one actually brings to audience the darker side of rich and powerful and how the end game is not always positive and viewer friendly.
This is the reason why Undekhi is more about the villains [Harsh Chhaya and Surya Sharma] and not as much about those who would otherwise have been heroes. Reason being that it’s a flawed society that we live in and hence the world around can’t really afford to care much about the tribal girl [Apeksha Porwal] whose sister got shot at point blank range, the young man [Abhishek Chauhan] who caught the action on camera, the groom [Ankur Rathee] who doesn’t even want to try and his to-be-wife [Anchal Singh] who wonders how to make the wrong right.
Then of course there are characters who are outright grey [Ayn Zoya as the opportunistic filmmaker] and those [Dibyendu Bhattacharya as the senior cop on the verge of retirement] who have been taught by experience that there is a portion of evil that needs to be gulped down as you can’t always expect to be righteous and win all the battles.
It is the mix of such unique characters in a dramatic thrilling set up that makes Undekhi an absolute must watch. Taking a kick-start right from the beginning and maintaining a relentless pace throughout, the only portions of this web series which dip the excitement a bit are the ones filmed in the jungle. Somehow, you like all the action that is happening in the resort, especially with some of the powerful characters scheming their games, and hence despite the jungle chase, you aren’t really enticed much.
However, the moment you are presented the scenes that are driven by Harsh Chhaya and Surya Sharma, things move at a rapid pace in Undekhi. While Harsh Chhaya is a revelation as the arrogant Punjabi patriarch, Surya Sharma is deadly as Rinku Paaji. He rightly enacts the part of a guy whom you do not want to have on your wrong side.
Dibyendu Bhattachaya who had really impressed as a pimp in Anurag Kashyap and has made many other screen appearances, finally gets his due as a cop. Ladies on the house, Anchal Singh, Ayn Zoya and Apeksha Porwal are truly capable in their meaty parts. Abhishek Chauhan gives a good account of himself and so do Ankur Rathee and Vaarun Bhagat as Rinku’s friend Lucky.
Varun Badola, who recently impressed as Jimmy Sheirgill’s confidante in Your Honor, is in charge of the dialogues here in Undekhi and comes up with lines that are truly acidic. Though they are expletives laden which make Undekhi an ‘adults only’ affair, you don’t mind that due to the stage, set up and genre of the show. This is in fact the best part about Undekhi as it knows where it is headed for, what with creator Siddharth Sengupta and director Ashish Shukla certainly knowing the audiences that they are targeting, hence mincing no words.
One of the best dramatic thrillers coming out of the OTT medium, Undekhi stuns right from the first episode and leaves you heartbroken by the tenth. A truly binge watching affair, this one is No One Killed Jessica meets Damini.