Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke gets into crackling mode after slow start

Regina Cassandra in Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke. Photo: Juggernaut Productions

Some series take their time to grow on you, giving the impatient viewer a feel that this one’s a listless, vapid, done-before show before things pick up. A classic example of this was Maharani, and in the non-crime section, last year’s Ghar Waapsi. But when the narration gets into business in its relaxed fashion (OTT is made for long-format storytelling!), it’s like a shock of sorts to the system, and a pleasant one at that.

That is how one feels when Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke gets into its first three episodes. I began to feel that this was yet another patriotic or espionage saga complete with tropes like the protagonist having major personal or family issues and not playing by the book, a miffed boss, an associate we know will die on duty from a line he exchanges with the lead character, the usual exotic locations and a conspiracy to bring India down to its knees. Then we have Muslim characters that range from vicious villains to the chief (that too, a lady) of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

All that trope-heavy stuff is okay—Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke never intends to break new ground. It is an 8-episode saga of valiant officers who give their all for the nation, even if it means several personal compromises and sacrifices. It reinforces the truth that we all can lead normal, secure lives simply because all these people are around to look after us as much as is humanly possible, from Kashmir to Kerala and from the Eastern and Western corners of our country.

Kavya Iyer (Regina Cassandra—good enough in most parts) is a dedicated officer who could be termed “recalcitrant” by her bosses in view of the initiatives and dares she takes. Her son Reyansh (Jihan Hodar) is a precocious brat who talks about himself in third person, and her husband, Sameer (Barun Sobti) is in a troubled relationship with her.

Thanks to a remark made by him when they are having an argument, Kavya, who is posted in the North-East, gets an inspired hunch about what insurgents are planning. After that, it is an uphill task for her in trying to convince her superiors that something big and nefarious is being planned. Shunted to a police training academy after an operation goes wrong, Kavya recklessly continues her investigation, and is soon drafted into the NIA, where she has a lot of initial friction with her determined and disciplined boss (Mahira Khan).

Soon, however, what she has predicted begins to come true and she becomes a key driving force in the battle against terrorism and time, along with techno wizard, Chandan Jha, who speaks pure Hindi with a vengeance.

And one thought strikes me as I write this: no amount of such sagas, real, dramatized, part-fictionalized or just inspired but fictional, are enough as a dose of deshbhakti for us. We need to have repeated reminders that can also be inspirational as career options for our youngsters—to fight for the nation.

This series has some definite differences with the normal such genre: there are focused and hard-hitting lines on how Islam never preaches violence and evil, and recounts of how a section of the youth is programmed into thinking that they are doing something pious even as they unabashedly kill innocent people. The climax, for a change, is set in the picturesque locales of Kerala even as the story traverses there from the far East and New Delhi.

But more significant is the fact that the series harnesses technology as few series have done before as a means of both perpetrating as well as combating evil intent. And as the momentum grows, we see a climax that could be termed nail-biting even as if we watch the shorter penultimate (seventh) and the eight episodes. When I noted that a mere 15 minutes were left to complete the saga. ‘Oh! Here comes another cliffhanger!’ I moaned to myself, but delightfully, the series culminated excitingly, all loose ends wrapped up. The last episode was indeed electric, though it could have decidedly been less ‘filmi’ as the heroine tackles the arch-villain alone, and her team arrives much like the police would in retro formula movies—after the villain is beaten!

Another sore point that was thankfully there only in the earlier episodes was a truly irritating and ludicrously high-pitched theme song, Fateh, that dilutes the seriousness of the story and theme. The way it is composed and sung (by Arko) is plain ridiculous. Roshin Balu’s background music, on the other hand, is pleasant if routine.

Srijit Mukherjee’s direction shines in parts, like the sequence between Kavya and Mahira’s husband (Manish Chaudhary), or the scene between Kavya’s mother (Deepika Amin) and Mahira, but it is the script that is the real hero alongside the performances, especially in the way it looks at the human side of even the wrongdoers.

From the actors, Regina apart, we see a totally unexpected side of the hugely talented Sumeet Vyas as the amoral Tariq Aslam and yet another controlled but brilliant turn by Mita Vashisht. Barun Sobti scores high as Sameer, as does Chandan Roy (of Panchayat fame) as Chandan. As Thasleena, Gayathrie Shankar is superb, her eyes as fiery as smoldering cauldrons. From the rest, Jihan Hodar is good when not over-precocious, and Deepika Amin as Kavya’s mother and the actor who plays the unwilling drone operator shine.

Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke is a case of slow and steady in the beginning wins the race!

Rating: ***1/2

ZEE5 presents Juggernaut Productions’ Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke  Produced by: Aditya Pittie & Samar Khan Directed by: Srijit Mukherjee Written by:Neeraj Udhwani, Ashish P. Verma & Abhishek Jaiswal Music: Arko, Raghav & Arjun Starring: Regina Cassandra, Sumeet Vyas, Mita Vashisht, Barun Sobti, Chandan Roy, Deepika Amin, Gayathrie Shankar, Sandeep Dhabale, Jihan Hodar, Manish Chaudhary, Diwakar Dhyani, Audrey Hatibaruah, Dhir Hira, Anup Hazarika, Chien Ho Liao, Vinod Rai, Manish Chaudhary & others



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