Killer Soup is a deliciously wicked brew

Manoj Bajpayee and Konkona Sen Sharma in Killer Soup. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

Once in a while, in any form of consumption (book, story, film, TV serial or web series) comes that standout saga that is quirky and deliciously wicked. Killer Soup is a carefully brewed experience that simply excels in what it sets out to do—entertain with an intelligent plotline and some really rib-tickling and ironic audiovisual dark humor.

One of those rare web series that has a dual role, it narrates the story of Prabhakar (Manoj Bajpayee), who is accidentally killed in a scuffle with Umesh Mahto, who is his doppelganger. Umesh, now a masseuse in a gym, has long, unkempt hair and also a squint. Swathi is having an affair with Umesh, who has been her lover since her nursing days.

Swathi is now a homemaker who makes what she thinks is great paya (leg of lamb) soup and dreams of starting a restaurant. So now, after disposing of Prabhakar’s body, the wily woman makes Umesh pose for good as Prabhakar by smearing his face (with Umesh’s consent!) with acid and disfiguring his face and the squinted eye!

Not that Prabhakar was innocent. He was having his own illicit affair with a colleague, Kirtima (Kani Kusruti) and duping his moneyed brother, Arvind Shetty (Sayaji Shinde). Arvind has a recalcitrant daughter, Appu (Anuja Navlekar), who is not interested in her widowed father’s business and wants to go and study Arts in France. Lucas (Lal), an old and loyal assistant, is also a key part of the household.

All this is happening in the fictional town of Mainjur. Soon, things spiral out of control and the bodies mount. There is also a mysterious blackmailer—or is that two? Inspector Hassan (Nasser), who is soon to retire, doggedly unravels the clues, including the mysterious death of rookie cop Thupalli (Anbu Thasan), whose spirit haunts him subsequently and even provides vital clues on this complex case (a truly ingeniously illogical fictional device!), which also involves conspiracies galore and a missing sum of Rs. 31 crore.

The eight-episode near-400-minute marathon plods in episode one, but things pick up rapidly from the second episode. The characters and incidents are weird, even bizarre, but the dark comedy rapidly escalates to become a great start to Web Series 2024. Killer Soup is shrewdly plotted and remarkably convoluted, there are no “white” human beings save Haasan (who has his own moody kinks though!) and his fellow cops, and the ingenious climax and post-climax are the best things in the series as Swathi and Umesh are finally exposed to the world.

Abhishek Chaubey, who delivered the saucy Ishqiya, the trenchant Udta Punjab and some mediocre follow-ups (including the  hyped Sonchiriya), rises like so many other filmmakers to find his true forte in long stories like this series. The script is as whacky as it is whimsical and there is not a dull moment as the twists come thick and fast. The technical side is another additional asset and happily, the background score (Benedict Taylor and Naren Chandavarkar) is also well-conceived to boost a scene’s mood without being intrusive on the viewer and his ears.

An assembly of powerful performers, deftly directed and adroitly casted, also helps to enhance this dramedy. Topping the list is Konkona Sen Sharma as Swathi, the woman who unravels shocking facets as the story progresses, with her steely determination to reach a goal on which she is fixated. As the ruffled and often helpless Umesh, Manoj Bajpayee is his usual self and one wishes he showed some basic variation in his performance. As Prabhakar too, he is routine. However, because of the manner in which his twin characters are written, he is nevertheless effective!

Sayaji Shinde is brilliant as the confused and cranky Arvind Shetty, and a stellar turn comes from Nasser as Hassan, who makes his cop so believable and real you can feel his passion for the truth. Terrific performances also come in from Mallika Prasad as Zubeida, Vaishali Bisht as Khansama, Lal as Lucas, Rajeev Ravindranathan as DSP Udaya Reddy and Shilpa Mudbi as head constable Asha Ritu. And above all, Anula Navlekar as Appu, Kani Kusruti as Kirtima and Anbu Thasan as ASI Thupalli are fabulous.

But the true heroes of Killer Soup are the four writers— Abhishek Chaubey himself, Unaiza Merchant, Harshad Nalawade and Anant Tripathi. Despite the humor, the writing has a certain gravitas in the subtle messages it sends out, even if that may not be intentional.

Netflix presents MacGuffin Pictures’ Killer Soup  Created & Written by: Abhishek Chaubey, Unaiza Merchant, Harshad Nalawade & Anant Tripathi Tamil dialogues by: Siva Ananth Produced by: Honey Trehan & Chetana Kowshik  Directed by: Abhishek Chaubey   Music: Benedict Taylor & Naren Chandavarkar  Starring: Manoj Bajpayee, Konkona Sen Sharma, Sayaji Shinde, Nasser, Kani Kusruti, Anula Navlekar, Anbu Thasan, Lal, Vaishali Bisht, Rajeev Ravindranathan, Bagavathi Perumal, Mallika Prasad, Shilpa Mudbi, Raja PRS, Jasir, Harshad Nalawade, P. Santhanam Naidu, Vidyuth Gargi & others



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