Hostages review: Tisca Chopra, Ronit Roy’s show is generic, uninspired mess that captivates no one
Director: Sudhir Mishra
Cast: Tisca Chopra, Ronit Roy, Parvin Dabas
What hurt the most about watching Hotstar’s new original, Hostages was a moment that came right after the end. After the twist untwists, the credits roll and the screen collapses to reveal a list of recommendations from the streaming app, you see little icons of shows like the masterful Chernobyl, the brilliant Big Little Lies and the thrilling Sharp Objects, all loaned from HBO. In that moment, you realise what substandard mess you have just wasted five hours on. In that moment, you realise how far our TV shows still have to go.
Sudhir Mishra of Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and Chameli, returns to television after 20 years with Hostages. While in all these years he became famous for his own, very distinct brand of cinema, even television evolved into something unrecognisable. With the advent of web series, filmmakers now had access to things they previously didn’t. But for Mishra, using swear words as helping verbs or finally getting the sanction to show people kiss, was all the liberty he was looking for from the platform.
Watch Hostages trailer here:
Hostages is a generic thriller that offers nothing new in terms of the story it tells, the characters it introduces, the way it is shot or even the themes it plays with. Tisca Chopra plays a doctor with an idiot for a husband and two even more stupid kids. The family is taken hostage by a group of ultra moronic and amateur criminals, led by ex-cop Ronit Roy. The captors want the doctor to kill the state’s chief minister when she operates on him the next day. If she fails, they threaten to kill her family.
The doctor and her family try all the lamest tricks to get out of the situation. All they needed was a single rethink to realise how dumb these tricks and plans were. She threatens to slice open her hand but the captors put a gun to her husband’s head, the daughter sends a message to her boyfriend from a secret cellphone for help but doesn’t tell him what has actually happened so he could bring reinforcements.
What are supposed to be twists can be spotted from miles ahead. You know that it is Ronit Roy with a sock on his face for you’ve been hearing his voice since he played the desi Mr Darcy on your fat televisions since the advent of the new millennium. But hey, that’s the twistiest twist they could afford to have at the end of the first episode. It is supposed to be the most crucial juncture for a new series, when people make up their mind to watch the second one or not.
The childish plot is not the only issue. The background music is lifted right from second tier thriller movies that went out of production in the last decade. Maybe CID or Saavdhan India still use it but I am sure even they don’t coat every scene, every breathe or every flutter of an eyelash with it. This royalty free music is supposed to create an element of suspense or to be used at crucial points but it just ends up annoying you as it plays on a loop, reaching a deafening volume and thumping bass every time someone pulls out a gun.
There are still more problems in the sound department. The show appears to have dubbed over scenes in a studio, leading to an inauthentic experience throughout. The lips don’t match the sounds and it happens quite often that Parvin Dabas simply leaves his mouth ajar so any words could be fit in later. It is mighty distracting, appears cheap and archaic.
Tisca and Ronit have seen better projects as actors and while they exhibit mediocre but appropriately scaled skills in a subpar show, it is the young actors that deserve a special mention for their abysmal performances. The daughter and the son were not blessed with intelligent characters anyway (add to that the bad job in the dubbing studio), but their unconvincing faces as they stare at a loaded gun and their very fake cries fooled no one.
The show is peppered with the ugliest swear words to perhaps give a feeling of real world authenticity of Delhi and its foul mouthed citizens. However, it all feels so shallow and uninspired, it takes away whatever little credibility it had. It’s like watching your little sibling repeat a bad word after hearing you say it, just to appear cool. You just want to smack him across the face for it.
With a disappointing show like Hostages, Hotstar makes you realise once again how it is miles behind in a race to create a good show. Sure we too have our own Sacred Games and Made in Heaven but considering we have lived through almost five years of the web series revolution, shouldn’t the number have been higher than two?
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