The Night Manager review: Anil Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapur star in a thrilling drama that leaves you hanging
The Night Manager review: This Indian adaptation headlined by Anil Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapur gets the ball rolling in terms of the story, but once you're invested, the thrilling drama that leaves you hanging for its conclusion.
A former soldier and later hotel employee has to infiltrate the organisation on a notorious arms deals in this Indian adaptation of John le Carre’s novel The Night Manager. The book was also adapted in an award-winning British series starring Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, and Olivia Colman. The Disney+ Hotstar series, created by Sandeep Modi for India, obviously changes the story to localise it for audiences, but keeps the essence intact. (Also read: The Night Manager trailer: Aditya Roy Kapur and Anil Kapoor play some tense spy games in this Indian remake)
Aditya Roy Kapur is aforementioned 'night manager' who gets unwillingly recruited into spying on Shailendra Rungta, the merchant of death. Anil Kapoor's Shelly is a philanthropic businessman to the world, but in reality, deals in weapons on the black market. While stationed in Bangladesh working for a hotel, Aditya's Shaan Sengupta tries to help a child bride escape from her husband, who happens to be one of Shelly's associates.
Shaan, who can't shut off his chivalrous and good-natured nature, tries his best not to get involved but is drawn in nevertheless. The outcome leaves him shattered. Years later, when he runs into Shelly again, he aims to do the right thing one more time. But this time, Lipika Saikia Rao (Tillotama Shome), who works for Indian intelligence, asks a higher price from Shaan. As someone who has managed to impress Shelly, Shaan can get access to the reclusive mogul if they play their cards right.
The first half of the series follows Shaan and his journey to Shelly, while the sluggish second half focuses on Shaan in the lion's den. Unfortunately, once he's in, the story takes a long time to establish him in, only to leave viewers hanging at the end. What happens to Shaan? Well, we'll know the conclusion in June 2023, when the story is finally concluded. The British series rounded out the narrative in six hour-long episodes, even with an ambiguous ending.
Anil is in familiar territory as the shrewd businessman hiding a secret life. Much of The Night Manager revolves around Aditya and later Tillotama as they try to make a case against Shelly, even hiding their work from other fellow Indian intelligence agents. The actors are in fine form as their characters. Saswata Chatterjee, who plays Shelly's right hand man Brij Pal, is also impactful. He remains suspicious of Shaan's motives from the start and doesn't let up. It is their cat-and-mouse interactions that add suspense to the latter part of the series.
Shobita Dhulipal is Shelly's girlfriend Kaveri, who remains vague and mysterious here, perhaps deliberately. The second chapter of the series will reveal more of her past and how she got together with him. Ravi Behl and Rukhsar Rehman also play members of Shelly's inner circle.
Sandeep, along with co-director Priyanka Ghose, has a good handle of the show in the first two episodes. Shaan's introduction and his constant willingness to help others sets the mood for the tale, as we learn that he really can't say no when it comes to doing the right thing. It may lead to his undoing after all.
Moving from Bangladesh to India to Sri Lanka, the show's production values are notable. The screenplay by Shridhar Raghavan eases up in the last two episodes when Shaan is conveniently placed into Shelly's company. Even with the British series, this plot point felt a bit much and it feels the same here. Once Shaan begins living on Shelly's property and essentially becomes a babysitter for his young son, I felt myself losing interest.
The Night Manager only amps in the final 20 minutes, and when the story has just gotten going, cuts off the momentum at the wrong moment. Resuming part two four months later might be too late for some viewers.