Web Review: Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein is a deadly cat-and-mouse game

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Tahir Raj Bhasin and Anchal Singh in Netflix’s Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

Sidharth Sengupta is known to web series aficionados as the man behind the extremely gripping Apharan (2018). He is back with an equally fast-paced, twist-suffused tale of crime in a small North Indian town (a fictional one named Onkara). A simple, educated young man from a humble family, Vikrant (Tahir Raj Bhasin), is being manipulated by a woman, Purva (Anchal Singh, known to web addicts for her work in Undekhi).

This time, the tale is set from Vikrant’s childhood, when Purva spots him as a kid and is obsessed with him though he does not reciprocate. Small incidents graphically demonstrate that she is a jinx for him. When she moves out of town for higher education, Vikrant’s life gets settled and he becomes a graduate, planning to move to a big job in a bigger city. He is also in love with Shikha (Shweta Tripathi) and they plan to marry.

But putting a spanner into these works is Vikrant’s father (Brijendra Kala), who is heavily in emotional debt to the top politician of that area, Akheraj Awasthi (Saurabh Shukla), his employer. Akheraj has even made sure that Vikrant gets admission in the same school as his daughter, who is none other than Purva, when he was a kid. He has also financed the medical expenses for Vikrant’s father.

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Vikrant’s proposal of going away for a job is negated by his father and mother (Sunita Rajwar) and he is sent to Akheraj instead. As bad luck would have it, he encounters Purva again. Akheraj, on her say-so, appoints him on an incredible salary of a lakh a month in her Zumba school. Vikrant considers this a waste of his education and ambitions, and his father tells him that it was Akheraj who was responsible for his basic education that led to this qualification, and is now offering him many times the sum he deserves.

Shikha is alarmed as Akheraj has a dark reputation of murder and everything else he can do to subvert the law. Vikrant then decides he wants out. He goes to meet Akheraj but becomes witness to a murder in his office and even the brutal disposal of the victim’s body. And from here begins a cat-and-mouse game with Vikrant and his girlfriend as the two hapless mice and the politician, his daughter Purva, who is obsessed with Vikrant as a trophy, and Akheraj’s chief henchman Dharmesh (Surya Sharma) as the feline predators.

And then it’s no-holds-barred battle with Vikrant even being married off to Purva so that he does not squeal on the dirty deeds of the Akheraj clan. Vikrant, on his part, takes only so much and decides to retaliate. In this process, he almost becomes the amoral animal Akheraj and Purva are. But at each step, there is a new problem for him! The story ends on a note where he has to make a Hobson’s choice. But wait: The story has been shown beginning with a desperate Vikrant set to be attacked by Akheraj’s goons in a lonely place. And so, at the end of Season 1, we have not reached the point that marks the beginning of the narrative!

Sengupta again shows his engrossing predilection for breakneck pace and twists at frequent junctures, and thus his respect to his audience, and is aided by Apharan partner Varun Badola in the snappy, sharp and often humor-laden dialogues. Expletives of course abound as is the web tradition. The background score adds to the excitement with its cerebral approach. These powerful factors balance out the lack of logic in many a happening and make us overlook some flaws in the script.

Arunoday Singh, the protagonist victim in Apharan, makes a cameo as the cunning hired assassin who changes colors in the climax. And while in that show, the Bobby song in original version, Ae phansa, was used as a kind of leitmotif, here it is the cult song from Baazigar, Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhen, which comes in and even becomes the show’s title, for want of any routine name that could have fitted this story of obsession and revenge!

This show’s protagonist, played by Tahir Raj Bhasin, is a classic case of a perfectly-cast actor showing his range. After Ranjish Hi Sahi, in which a woman was obsessed with Tahir’s character for a completely different reason, poor Tahir should not be (hopefully) typecast as the manipulated-by-a-shrew innocent man! Tahir is better here, as he moves from a silent sufferer to a rebel schemer and avenger. It’s a superior role in an exciting script.

Anchal Singh is perfect as the femme fatale, who would still love her trophy to be completely hers, and so, Shweta Tripathi as Shikha gets shortchanged in her role—she is good but barely gets scope. Saurabh Shukla as the manic politician who melts for his daughter is impressive, but Brijendra Kala as the man who cannot see beyond his boss’ benefactions and turns a Nelson’s eye to his horrendous crimes is really outstanding.

Statutory Warning: Those who binge-watch this series, propelled by its frenetic momentum, will have to wait a long while to see a culmination to the story—hopefully, Season 2, as and when it comes, will complete this irony-ridden thriller.

Rating: ***1/2

Netflix presents Edgestorm Pictures’ Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein Created by: Sidharth Sengupta Produced by: Jyoti Sagar & Sidharth Sengupta Directed by: Sidharth Sengupta Written by: Sidharth Sengupta, Anahata Menon & Varun Badola Music: Shivam Sengupta & Anuj Danait  Starring:Tahir Raj Bhasin, Shweta Tripathi, Anchal Singh, Surya Sharma, Saurabh Shukla, Brijendra Kala, Sunita Rajwar, Anant Joshi, Hetal Gada, Arunoday Singh & others

 

 

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