Raktanchal review: Nikiten Dheer fails to utilise his presence as an antagonist.
Raktanchal review: Nikiten Dheer fails to utilise his presence as an antagonist.

Raktanchal review: Nikiten Dheer’s crime drama is a nod to 80s Bollywood

Raktanchal review: Kranti Prakash Jha and Nikiten Dheer turn mafia leaders in this gang-war drama that echoes with gunshots and screams.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Ruchi Kaushal
UPDATED ON MAY 29, 2020 06:34 PM IST

Kranti Prakash Jha, Nikiten Dheer, Vikram Kochhar, Pramod Pathak, Chitranjan Tripathi, Soundarya Sharma, Ronjini Chakraborty, Basu Soni, Krishna Bisht
Director: Ritam Shrivastav

Raktanchal seems to have found its inspiration in Bollywood crime dramas. The MX 4 web series which takes you to the badlands of eastern Uttar Pradesh borrows from Hindi films of 80s and 90s but then a bit of nostalgia in the present scenario may not hurt. It has all the ingredients -- a wronged man who takes the path of crime to take revenge, a powerful adversary and the unholy nexus of crime, politics and power.

 Watch Raktanchal trailer here

Raktanchal drops us in the middle of crime-infested Purvanchal as gang war escalates, and gunshots and screams echo. Two gangsters face each other in a fight-to-finish battle; understandably there is a lot of collateral damage and corruption is in sharp focus. There are even full length dance numbers, in keeping with what the genre demands. Deja vu is your constant companion as you watch Raktanchal -- hero leaves the dream of a promising career to avenge his father’s death; the murderer is handed his just desserts after he is tied to a tractor and dragged through the fields.

In this world where an eye for an eye has been making the whole world blind, stirring performances are the key. Kranti Prakash Jha plays his part well as a lanky gang leader and carries Raktanchal on his shoulder. His character reminded me of Jimmy Sheirgill’s Rangbaaz Phirse for its IAS-aspirant- turned gangster story. While Jimmy’s charm worked wonders in that show, Kranti also does justice to his role. Besides him, Vikram Kocchhar is one actor who brings a smile with his twisted portrayal of coal mafia.

Kranti Prakash Jha (left) in a still from Raktanchal.
Kranti Prakash Jha (left) in a still from Raktanchal.

However, Nikiten Dheer, the most popular name among the star cast, could have done more being an antagonist. Chennai Express’ Thangabali does little other than barking orders or getting angry. Blame the writer or the actor, the opportunity offered by the role of a dreaded gangster remains underutilised.

What Raktanchal misses out on is twists and turns, but it tries to make up with colourful language. The show has everything from profanity-riddled dialogue to body chopping as it showcases its time and milieu.

Vikram Kocchar (right) in a still from Raktanchal.
Vikram Kocchar (right) in a still from Raktanchal.

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The show succeeds in enlightening the audience about how the land, coal and liquor mafia functioned and how it was a dirty game involving politics and corruption. Most of it boils down to the assigning of tenders which turns out to be more of a blood bath than just official paper work.

(Author tweets @ruchik87)

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