A confession first: I have never been a big fan of Indian TV series. So what made me put a reminder on my phone to watch Sony on Monday night? Two names: Amitabh Bachchan and Anurag Kashyap, both making their debut with a fiction TV series, Yudh. No wonder the expectations were phenomenal.
And did they deliver? I say both yes and no to that. Perhaps its too early for us to diss the serial, since it's just finished one episode, and we know it is a brave experiment that needs to succeed for the sake of Indian TV, and the audience.
Here's a point-by-point review of the episode.
The biggest reason why I'll watch all the episodes of Yudh is -- Amitabh Bachchan, and his bravura performance. As a builder who believes in doing the right thing, and is not afraid to fight the corrupt, he is amazing. As the enigmatic family man who suffers from a neuro-psychological ailment, he piques your interest.
He has played such parts before in films but this is a daily soap (five times a week) and to deliver such high-octane performance five days a week truly deserves a round of applause.
Also, the episode came sprinkled with references to his iconic films. The name of his company is Shanti Constructions (a la Trishul) and he is a patriarch who lives by his principles (Sarkar and so many others). We can see hardcore Big B fans having fun with this.
WATCH: MAKING OF YUDH
The impressive cast
Other than Big B, we have Kay Kay Menon, Sarika and Tigmanshu Dhulia in the series. We are told Nawazuddin Siddiqui too is in it. In the first episode, both Menon and Dhulia were impressive. We would like to see more of Dhulia who got to say the best line in the show: "Dost wo hota hai jisko mauka mile aur phir bhi peeth mai chura na bhoke".
Anurag Kashyap is the show's creative head (his touch in the first episode was unmistakable) and Shoojit Sircar is its creative consultant. After the daily dose of saas-bahu, this looks like a veritable feast.
A bold experiment
Indian TV till now strongly has happily shied away from experiment. If one show about saas-bahu politics worked, we saw 100 replicas within a month; if women's empowerment was the flavour of the month, that's what all the channels were showing. This is an absolute shift from anything we have seen before. If this works on the TRP game and finds a place in audience's heart, it might actually change TV's landscape in the country.
Pick up the pace, please
The setting is bleak and the pace slow. An ageing patriarch (Big B's Yudhishtir Sikarwar) is falling prey to a debilitating disease which is playing games with his mind too. He has three to five years left to live. The scene at home is none too encouraging either – there are two wives and a son (errant one at that) and daughter from each.
Yudh takes on corrupt builder mafia and the episode established that there are dangerous times ahead. But the narrative is so slow and time consuming that you end up losing interest during the one-hour episode.
However, some great American TV series had rather slow starts and we remain hopeful. There were a lot of comparisons between the iconic American TV series Breaking Bad and this series on social media.
Interestingly, that series also had a slow start till it exploded into great television.
Can we have an Indian encore, please?
The background score
The background music is so overwhelming in places that it is hard to hear what the actors are saying. This is a request to the makers: can we fix this please? We really want to know what Yudh is saying.