By Joginder Tuteja
Think about the surgical strike by India on Pakistan and what you remember most is the ‘josh’. After all, the headlines that followed made every Indian feel a lot of pride and the valour of the Indian army was out there to be seen. No wonder, with director Raj Acharya stepping into the web series arena with Applause Entertainment’s Avrodh, it’s time to check out what does the 9 part series with every episode lasting around 30 minutes at an average has to offer on Sony LIV.
Though one has already seen the drama unfold in Vicky Kaushal starrer Uri – The Surgical Strike, an all time blockbuster by director Aditya Dhar, Avrodh is still special because by the virtue of being a web series, it is far more detailed with a lot of emphasis also on what happened behind the scenes and how things unfolded in real time. Moreover, the USP here are the proceedings that take place at the Prime Minister’s (Vikram Gokhale) office with intelligence (Neeraj Kabi), bureaucrats (Ananth Mahadevan) and Army officers coming together to shape the plan while also dealing with the intrusion of media (Madhurima Tuli).
It is these very boardroom discussions and the strategic accompanied by tactical decisions been taken that bring in clear distinction between the first and the second half of Avrodh. The first half has the terrorist organisation (led by Anil George) attacking the Indian army camp (led by Darshan Kumar and Pavail Gulati) and inflicting casualties while the second half has special forces (led by Amit Sadh) coming up with a counter attack. In the midst of all, there is internal politics between the terrorist organisations as well as ISI detailed out too, as well as the involvement of US in the Indo-Pak affairs that makes for a well rounded watch.
Of course, action and thrills hold center stage in Avrodh and this is what brings the ‘josh’, especially in the second half when Amit Sadh takes charge. His entry is truly heroic in the series and is actually more like a compliment to his towering personality and a beefy look. From being a no-nonsense but quiet cop in Breathe to being no-nonsense again (albeit aggressive and vocal) in Avrodh, he continues to establish his case for being out there to be utilised even better by the Bollywood bigwigs.
Darshan Kumar does well yet again after Mary Kom and NH 10. He is a dependable actor and here as an army officer, he is commanding and emotes well. Pavail Gulati, after being seen as Taapsee Pannu’s abusive husband in Thappad, is adorable as an army officer. Your heart goes out to him. Neeraj Kabi has the most fleshed our character amongst the senior actors and he does well. On the other hand you do observe that Madhurima’s character as well as that of her fellow Kashmiri journalist (Mir Sarwar) have a shade of grey as in the hunt for breaking news, they seem to be compromising national security. As for Ananth Mahadevan and Arif Zakaria (as they investigator), one would have liked to see them in more meaty parts.
The narrative does have meat though. You like the action and the thrills, and though at places you believe that the narrative moves ahead in a bit jerky manner from one sequence to another, from the larger picture perspective you are rather content due to the core content on display and the performances pulling it all through.
Watch it at a stretch as it is one extended action packed affair.