Undekhi review: Harsh Chhaya serves a gem of a thriller, you better not overlook it
Cast: Harsh Chhaya, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Ankur Rathee, Surya Sharma, Anchal Singh, Abhishek Chauhan, Ayn Zoya, Apeksha Porwal and Sayandeep Sen
Creator: Siddharth Sengupta
Undekhi (unseen) is a word that can be interpreted in two different ways, and what we choose to go with essentially defines the people we are. It can be construed as perceiving what we have not seen before -- in case of Sony LIV’s new show, it can be a peek into how the privileged India lives, drunk on unaccounted power and riches -- or it can be ignoring injustice. A hard look at present day India, Undekhi shows us both, and for its efforts, manages to stand out in a crowd of recent crime thrillers such as Raktanchal and Lal Bazaar.
Watch Undekhi teaser here
The talented Harsh Chhaya plays Papaji, a constantly inebriated resort owner in Manali whose solution for every problem is ‘goli mardenge’. Even more dangerous than him is his foster son Rinku (Surya Sharma) who practises what Harsh preaches. The women have no agency in this family as they are reduced to trophy wives or mere onlookers who look on as the drama unfolds in front of them.
The US-returned heir of the family Daman (Ankur Rathee) has kept himself distant from its criminal activities but when it comes to his wedding, he willy-nilly becomes part of a stag party that sees his father groping female dancers with a gun in one hand. He shoots a dancer in the face, with the photographer (Abhishek Chauhan) recording the entire incident inadvertently. As audience, we end up drawing parallels with six months old newspaper headlines of a wedding dancer’s shooting in Chitrakoot -- Undekhi makers have said that the show is inspired by true events .
In Paatal Lok, corruption was described as a well-oiled machinery and Undekhi shows just how smoothly it runs, especially when the crime is committed by someone who is rich and powerful. The sozzled Papaji doesn’t even remember committing the crime the next morning. Harsh is in his elements here -- you hate him for his flagrant use of money and power and yet he makes laugh with his colourful use of Punjabi curses.
How the poor and the disenfranchised, especially women, are treated in India is put sharply in focus with the dialogue, “inka na koi aadhar hai na aadhar card (these people have neither any foundation nor an Aadhar card)”. Can a piece of paper decide your destiny? Are we really supposed to be thankful for the UID?
Apeksha Porwal gets the role of a lifetime and makes the most of it. The former Miss Universe India loses her glamour tag to play a tribal girl on the run. Abhishek too touches hearts as a frail but courageous city boy who let go of his fears to fight till the end.
Dibyendu Bhattacharya has been cast as a cool-headed DSP who is face-to-face with Surya’s Rinku. How they pursue their own motives, running parallelly to each other, doesn’t let the viewer get a hint of what’s in store the next moment.
As the frightening game of cat-and-mouse continues, the maker adds more players to add to the drama. The team of writers deserves applause for making sure every action has a reaction and every character get to play their part in the story. It’s noteworthy that even a lovemaking scene has a significant consequence and an importance in the solid plot.
Despite the nail-biting plot that keeps you on the edge without a pause, it still has its fair share of fun moments to keep the spirits up. While the powerful are too busy changing sherwanis during the 10-episode series, Papaji keeps the laughs coming as he uses the title of inspector for DSP and commander for air commodore.
The makers keep it open ended leaving enough scope for a sequel and I must say it’s absolutely worth it. Sony LIV once again delivers a gem after the recent moderate success -- Jimmy Sheirgill’s Your Honor and the heartwarming Gullak released last year. With such choices, it may even slowly and steadily win the race. Undekhi will stream on SonyLIV July 10 onwards.
Follow @htshowbiz for more