Karmma Calling is mediocre and absurd vendetta drama

Raveena Tandon Thadani in Karmma Calling. Photo: Disney+Hotstar

Here’s the scenario: Indrani (Raveena Tandon Thadani) is in love with Satyajit (Rohit Roy), a humble employee in her husband Kaushal (Gaurav Sharma)’s and her company, Kothari Global. When the couple commit a mammoth fraud, they make sure that Satyajit becomes the sitting duck and is jailed. He is a single parent and his kid daughter, Ambika, has seen everything. She is thrown into an orphanage where the caretaker makes her repeat ‘My dad is a monster’ (it took all of 49 years to get this version of Mera baap chor hai, the iconic line from Deewaar!) to be treated decently.

Ambika as a kid is this huge mental recording machine and she soon receives a box with her dad’s letter (“If you receive this it means I am dead!” it says—wonder why it was not sent during his lifetime and how many years he was jailed!). After this, as adult, she changes tracks and becomes a vendetta machine.

Enter a mystery woman named Karmma Talwar (Namrata Sheth) who comes to Alibag (where the Kotharis stay) and lo! And behold! she is actually Ambika, ticking off a huge list of those who ill-treated her father and her and were responsible for ruining her childhood. No explanation is given for where she was in the interim and how she became a tycoon with unimaginable wealth and contacts.

Having got the list of names both from her mental recordings and dad’s statements (though he has advised her to forgive and move on!!), she begins her game, exposing, for starters, the philandering Kaushal and Indrani’s bosom (no pun intended) friend, Dolly (Waluscha D’Souza). She then targets a politician (Shataf Figar), a get-rich-quick shrink (Alpana Buch), a slimy lawyer (Mohan Kapur) and so on, all fo whom had a role to play in the misery she and her father suffered. She has a mysterious ally in “Uncle” Zane Khan (Viraf Patel), a gay (in the trendy convention on the web again) who seems to do nothing but install secret cameras and track videos of people for use to ‘Karmma’. ‘Karmma’ also has a part-confidante in the airhead yet efficient worker, Yana (Amy Aela) who manages the events that the Kotharis so frequently host.

In Alibag, the dog she played with as a child recognizes her, but not her childhood friend and its owner, Vedant (Rachit Singh), who with his younger brother, Dash (Piyush Khati) runs a pub owned by their father. ‘Karmma’ does feel a connection with Vedant (which is reciprocated), but her Mission Vendetta is top of the heap in priority and so she does not reveal who she actually is.

So she inveigles Ahaan Kothari (Varun Sood), the heir to the Kothari billions into her world and, with great actual luck, manages to alienate daughter Mira (Devangshi Sen) from her mother. She alienates Indrani and Dolly, disgraces the politician and the shrink, but finally asks herself about what she has become when she realizes that she has also targeted some innocent people, just like the Kotharis and their associates and accomplices had done with her dad.

The end is plain ludicrous even for a show that intends to go on—it opens with a death on the beach in episode 1 and there is no hint of it at the end! So not only is the season incomplete but it is abrupt in the most ridiculous sense of the word!

At superficial level, the show is no better than the pulpy thrillers that Vikram Bhatt unleashes on his viewers: there is little by way of logic, plenty by way of clichés galore, and a basic emotional core that is overplayed and may thus gratify the susceptible. For example, ‘Karmma’ even resides in a huge mansion sans a single staff: we have seen such absurd things in innumerable films and Bhatt’s and other series and even TV serials.

The characters are ultra-glam, wearing apparel that has generous dollops of skin show. Happily, the expletives are curtailed to a fee “F**k”s, but that negative virtue alone cannot compensate for riveting and solid content. Everything is simplistic and when convenient, sans drama. Indrani, for example, has someone who has someone who seems like her personal watchdog and guard, Sameer (Vikramjit Virk), but even he is so cardboard you know what will happen to him in the end.

If at all I still managed to sit through the seven episodes, I would say it was because of a few reasons, the first and predominant one being the hope of a credible, powerful end that would explain all the seeming illogic. Also, the series is bright, with upscale production values, there are eye-candy sets and the actors do their jobs well, certainly far better than the stereotyped performing we get to see in other pulpy series.

Raveena Tandon Thadani as the shrewish and calculating Indrani is excellent in her nuances and effortless devilry. She also plays a victim of circumstances (largely created by her) with panache while maintaining the needed fake demeanor. Namrata Seth is a delight, though her character of ‘Karmma’ or Ambika does not have great variations. Varun Sood is good as Ahaan, and Rachit Singh and Piyush Khati also impress as naturals essaying Vedant and Dash respectively. Waluscha D’Souza as Dolly and Vikramjit Virk as Sameer are routine, but I liked Amy Aela as Yana. Rohit Roy has barely anything to do, but Devangshi Sen as Mira is earnest and effective.

Wish this series had been too, and what is shocking is that it is based on Revenge, an American serial. If reasonably faithful in adaptation, it only goes to show that every overseas content isn’t remake material, thought most admittedly are. Director and main writer Ruchi Narain has never risen above the ordinary and this time, sadly, it is no different.

Watch this one  only if you must.

Disney+Hotstar presents Karmma Calling  Produced by: Taher Shabbir & Ashutosh Shah  Directed by: Ruchi Narain  Written by: Mark B. Perry, Joe Fazzio. Ruchi Narain & Purva Naresh  Music: Ketan Sodha  Starring: Raveena Tandon Thadani, Namrata Sheth, Varun Sood, Gaurav Sharma, Rachit Singh, Devangshi Sen, Amy Aela, Viraf Patel, Waluscha D’Souza, Vikramjit Virk, Rohit Roy, Piyush Khati, Shataf Figar, Mohan Kapur, Masi Vali, Mallika Chhabra, Alpana Buch & others





Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here