Lalbazaar review: The Ajay Devgn-backed crime drama is as predictable as a Crime Patrol episode

Lalbazaar review: The Kolkata-based police drama is another addition to the swelling bouquet of crime thrillers on the OTT platforms.
Lalbazaar review: Kaushik Sen plays the lead protagonist in the crime drama.
Lalbazaar review: Kaushik Sen plays the lead protagonist in the crime drama.
Updated on Jun 22, 2020 07:32 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByRuchi Kaushal

Kaushik Sen, Hrishitaa Bhatt, Sauraseni Maitra, Ronjini Chakraborty, Dibyendu Bhattacharya
Sayantan Ghosal

The surge in desi crime shows ha been keeping us hooked to our screens during the lockdown and almost everyone is eager to get on this bandwagon. Lalbazaar, ZEE5’s new original which takes the action to Kolkata, is one such aspirant. A better fit for a day time slot on TV , Lalbazaar has found its way online, and got attention as well with Ajay Devgn lending the trailer his voice. What it really needed, however, was an advice in the script department.

 Watch Lalbazaar trailer here

Named after the police headquarters in Kolkata, Lalbazaar rings a bell. The show is exactly what its name suggests -- a group of dedicated cops solving crimes in the Bengali heartland while a few black sheep play spoilsport. It is perhaps this predictability which unravels the show. Despite good production values, the show is letdown by the humdrum nature of the crimes and their predictable solutions.

The show is set in Kolkata but no attempts are made to bring in the local flavour of the culturally rich city. It’s only the lead actor Kaushik Sen whose Bangla-accented Hindi gives you a sense of the place, while everyone else refuses to draw from the cultural warmth of the City of Joy. The seasoned actor that Kaushik is, he brings his experience and depth to the show and is one of its few wins.

Ronjini Chakraborty in a still from Lalbazaar.
Ronjini Chakraborty in a still from Lalbazaar.

A sex-obsessed cop promises to add a quirky touch to the plot but ends up as a caricature. While the series fails to evoke any thrill or suspense, it is slightly more successful when it comes to striking an emotional chord with the viewer in terms of personal stories of the characters.

Rich in grime and violence that is an intrinsic part of the crime thrillers on OTTs, Lalbazaar fails to add meat and bones after shocking us with the bloodshed. After reeling you in with gore, which starts feeling gratuitous after a while, the show is at loose ends about what to do with you. It throws random cases at you with uneven results, but fails to bind it all together. It may satisfy the fans of CID and Crime Patrol but falls far below the current standards set up by Sacred Games, The Family Man and the more recent Paatal Lok.

Hrishitaa Dutt plays a mediaperson in Lalbazaar.
Hrishitaa Dutt plays a mediaperson in Lalbazaar.

Not just thematic inconsistencies, the show suffers from narrative contradictions too -- a 3-month foetus is later shown as a fully grown foetus, for instance. It is hard to accept two policemen quietly listening as irate residents berate them for spiking crime rate.

Also read: Prakash Jha’s next Pareeksha gets OTT release

The show has a weak beginning but gathers up some steam in the second half, only to end in a giant, frothing mess of a climax. After six-and-a-half-hours of Lalbazaar, key plot points are wrapped up in a matter of few minutes as if the cast and crew had also run out of patience. The series remains open ended with the promise of a second season hanging in the air. Now that is a trip I am unwilling to make.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2022