Khakee: The Bihar Chapter is well-made but lengthy

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Karan Tacker as Amit Lodha in Khakee: The Bihar Chapter. Photo: Netflix

In a web series, how long is too long? In most movies, it is obvious, but on OTT, it can be subjective.

Khakee: The Bihar Chapter (which Indian state will come next, I wonder!) is a series that has exciting twists and turns, all the more interesting because it is inspired by a real story and based on the book written by the police officer whose story it is. But after 7 episodes that total over five hours, I personally thought that it took too long to come to the point at many junctures. Since the editing cannot really be faulted, maybe some material could have been removed for brevity.

Two more ‘nitpicks’, if you must call them that: one, some needless red herrings extend the length: one, the interpolated shots of a gangster out for revenge and the IPS officer Amit Lodha (played by Karan Tacker)’s wife Tanu (Nikita Dutta) at a crucial juncture, and a jail sequence where Meetu Devi (Aishwarya Sushmita) goes to meet the imprisoned Chandan Mahto (Avinash Tiwary).

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The second nitpick is of the very prolonged and filmi action sequence before Chandan is arrested, and also the immediate aftermath of the arrest. The last face-off (the episode is interestingly titled Phace To Phace as per ‘Bihari’ colloquial English!) is well-handled, but is quite a tepid and unbelievable climax to a bloody story:  The Bihar Chapter, Wonder if this really happened. Also, how Chandan’s arrest is known to all, including the media, within seconds is never really explained.

The series has three basic protagonists. The first is IPS graduate Amit posted in Bihar and his motivations and attempts to put an end to the anarchy and lawlessness in the state. This pits him not just against the law-breakers but also the politicians, corrupt cops and others who support the rotten ‘system’.

The second is simpleton Chandan Mahto, who becomes a master-criminal due to the circumstances foisted on him. Initially merely on the defensive, he soon begins to enjoy the power that a gun gives him, and graduates to complete amorality.

Chandan’s right arm is Chwanprash a.k.a. Dilip Sahu (Jatin Sarna), whose wife Meetu (Aishwarya Sushmita) also is a key character in the way the saga unfolds. Chawnprash often reins in Chandan when he tends to go overboard, but is otherwise devoted to the man. He is protagonist number three.

The ruthlessness of dedicated cops and the relatively (to present-day) primitive technology that worked in 2006 are also key points employed here, and Chandan’s lack of belief in what cops can achieve with cell-phone tracking also has a part to play in Chandan’s final downfall.

The script is gripping but for the points mentioned above and the action (Abbas Ali Moghul) is a highlight. Two more key officers, DIG Sudhir Paswan (Anup Soni) and SHO Ranjan (Abhimanyu Singh) come in, as also the amusing IG Mukteshwar Chaubey (Ashutosh Rana). All three acquit (!) themselves well, but among them, the dependable powerhouse Ashutosh stands out.

This is yet another series where the actors playing the antagonist come out tops. As Chandan Mahto, Avinash Tiwary is magnificent. The interplay of his good side and bad, and of victim and aggressor, is wonderfully brought out by this actor. And Jatin Sarna (and his oh-so-expressive eyes and face) goes step-by-step with Avinash, and he too is superlative.

In contrast, Karan as Amit has a simple, less nuanced role and he is good, though his intense scenes work better. Nikita Dutta has nothing much to do as his wife, but Aishwarya Sushmita (what a name!) as Meetu Devi is brilliant. Her large eyes express every emotion effortlessly—watch, for example, the alarmed helplessness when Chwanprash is arrested within a few feet of her.

The other actors are all good, with special mention of Sanjay Pandey as Kanhaiya Bharadwaj and, even more so, Bharat Jha as Ajit Kumar. Ravi Kishan is okay in a villainous cameo and Vinay Pathak is barely around.

Advait Nemlekar’s background score, oftener than not, has always been an asset in most cases, and he maintains this standard here, with the song Aaiye na humre Bihar mein wonderfully composed, and also sung by Keerthi Sargathia—one of the best theme songs in web series. The ironic words are also well-penned by Dr. Sagar. The technical side is typical of Neeraj Pandey’s high standards.

Watch this one for its grit and realness. The flaws are far less relevant.

Rating: ***1/2 

Netflix presents Khakee—The Bihar Chapter Created and produced by: Neeraj Pandey Directed by: Bhav Dhulia Written by: Amit Lodha, Neeraj Pandey & Uma Shankar Singh Music: Advait Nemlekar Starring: Karan Tacker, Avinash Tiwary, Jatin Sarna, Abhimanyu Singh, Ravi Kishan, Ashutosh Rana, Nikita Dutta, Shraddha Das, Anup Soni, Pankaj Upadhyay, Neeraj Kashyap, Aishwarya Sushmita, Kali Prasad Mukherjee, Vinay Pathak, Naval Shukla, Sanjay Pandey, Bharat Jha, Vijay Kumar Dogra and others

 

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