Rudra—The Edge of Darkness is relentlessly gripping

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Ajay Devgns resigned air, sharp intellect and laconic persona create an irresistibly attractive cop. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

There is one quality about this show that makes it stand out: you want to see more! At six crisp episodes, the only letdown is the paucity of material, number of episodes-wise! Very few series (and I rarely binge-watch as a matter of—good!—habit) have an aura that makes us want to watch the next episode to see what’s coming.

One prime reason for this is the freshness quotient: new stories are explored in each, all of them involving psychopathic criminals, while there is a common underlying layer in the daily grind of his work. DCP Rudraveer Singh (Ajay Devgn) also has personal issues as well that traumatize him.

And if Rudra is a dour mix of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot in his detecting abilities and near sixth-sense, the series follows, even if unintentionally—the narrative pattern of prolific British crime fiction writer John Creasey’s police procedural novels, the Gideon series. And we do not have to look far for the cause of this—this series is adapted from the British multi-season TV hit, Luther, with the right Indian modifications.

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The first episode deals with the sordid murder of an old couple, and the prime suspect is their daughter Aliyah (Raashi Khanna). While nothing concrete nails her, she enters into a tangy relationship with Rudra—no, not the romantic kind. She accosts him, taunts him, enrages him, exasperates him, whimsically helps him, irritates his wife Shaila (Esha Deol) and her paramour Rajiv (Satyadeep Misra) and even becomes his emotional anchor! She is the common link between all episodes—an unfathomable figure who has a soft corner for Rudra!

As Rudra keeps cracking cases largely by unconventional and (by the book) unethical means, his boss, Commissioner Deepali (Ashwini Kalsekar) is in increasing despair about her deputy. Rudra’s behavior and suspected improprieties are being constantly monitored by joint Commissioner Raman (Ashish Vidyarthi), but he manages to stay afloat and not be suspended.

A new recruit, Inspector Prabal (Tarun Gahlot) becomes Rudra’s devotee, and almost pays for his loyalty as Rudra, towards the end, lands in serious trouble. When this happens, Raman advises Rudra’s best friend in the force, DCP Gautam (Atul Kulkarni) to stay clear of their investigation. But Gautam does not heed the orders.

The cases are largely of pathologically-afflicted criminals, in whose mind Rudra goes deep. In-between, his outbursts of sudden temper cost Shaila her peace of mind, get excessive attention from colleagues and also irritate Rajiv.

The script is the main asset of the series, and director Rajesh Mapuskar skims smoothly onto criminal terrain after making worthy socials. The music is thankfully unobtrusive, and the scale of production (cinematography, sound et al) impressive and riveting.

The performances are all very good to excellent, and Ajay Devgn is magnificent as Rudra. His resigned air, sharp intellect and laconic persona create an irresistibly attractive cop, and his eyes aid in making this character perfectly dark, yet lovable.

Raashi Khanna is brilliant too, an enigma that will continue to unravel her pages in the (hopefully) next season. Esha Deol Takhtiani does a competent Shaila, and Satyadeep Misra is correctly underplayed. Until the last two episodes, we are also left wondering why the consummate and versatile Atul Kulkarni accepted such a vacuous supporting role, but then we get it as the character comes into its own.

From the rest, Tarun Gahlot as Prabal is very effective, and among the criminals, everyone plays their part perfectly, especially K.C. Shankar as the psychopathic murderer and Hemant Kher as the impotent man. Priyanka Setia as Kher’s wife is superb.

This is one show we cannot afford to miss. It is to-the-point, gripping from beginning to end, and I cannot wait for its future seasons.

Rating: ****

Disney+Hotstar present Applause Entertainment’s & BBC India Productions’ Rudra—The Edge of Darkness Produced by: Sameer Nair & Deepak Segal  Directed by: Rajesh Mapuskar Written by: Neil Cross, Upen Chauhan & Jay Sheela Bansal Music: Siddharth Pandit & Japjisingh Valecha Starring: Ajay Devgn, Esha Deol Takhtiani, Raashii Khanna, Atul Kulkarni, Ashwini Kalsekar, Ashish Vidyarthi, Tarun Gahlot, Rajiv Kachroo, Milind Gunaji, Luke Kenny, Vikram Singh Chauhan, K. C. Shankar, Satyadeep Misra, Rajesh Jais, Serena Valia, Suparna Maitra, Hemant Kher, Vikram Sahoo, Priyanka Setia, Devesh Choubey, Amit Koushik & others

 

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