Web series review: ‘Rajma Chawal’ tastes bland, ‘Narcos: Mexico’ scores

Rajma chawal, Netflix-original featuring Rishi Kapoor, starts well, only to end up as just another run-of-the-mill romantic flick

Photo courtesy: social media
Photo courtesy: social media

Biswadeep Ghosh

Rajma with chawal can make for a lip-smacking meal, provided the former is cooked well. Filmmaker Leena Yadav, who had helmed Shabd, Teen Patti and Parched earlier, roped in Rishi Kapoor to act in Rajma Chawal. But, is it a well-made film?

Released on Netflix and with a story set in Delhi, Rajma Chawal’s promising start flatters to deceive. What could have been the story of a father-son relationship develops a wishy-washy romantic angle. The end product is an overcooked dish few will enjoy.

Raj Mathur (Kapoor) shifts from New Delhi to Old Delhi after his wife’s death. His son Kabir (Anirudh Tanwar) detests the decision because he has to distance himself from his band, his buddies and his mother’s memories in the old house. The son’s relationship with his father deteriorates to such an extent that the latter buys an iPhone and pretends to be a girl in order to chat with him on Facebook. An implausible idea? Perhaps, but it has the ingredients of a breezy comedy.

Raj's fictional female identity has a name. He calls himself Tara while chatting with his son. But, Tara’s real name is Seher, and she walks into the life of his son. Seher works as a hairdresser, borrows money to fund her lifestyle, and has a spoilt brat in her life. What happens after Kabir meets her?

Rajma Chawal’s predictable climax is not its' biggest weakness. A potentially interesting idea ends up being an unfulfilling one in which neither the dad-son nor the girl-boy relationship is properly explored.

Many crime drama fans have binge-watched Narcos, a web series on Netflix made particularly memorable by Wagner Moura’s authoritative performance as Pablo Escobar, the Colombian cocaine king. Initially conceived as the fourth season of the original series, Narcos: Mexico was developed as a companion series focusing on the drug trade in Mexico.

It is the 1980s. Two men view the world from opposite ends of the moral spectrum. An efficient Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, Kiki Camarena confronts systemic venality and turpitude while trying to gather intelligence on drug traffickers. Felix Gallardo heads a consortium comprising drug lords, who have come together to do business and maximise profits. Taking a big step forward after being in the marijuana trade, Gallardo seeks new excitement with cocaine.

Mexico’s drug business and traffickers have been depicted in films, serials and also books like former Border Patrol agent Fransisco Cantu’s remarkable memoir The Line Becomes A River. Based on real-life happenings and characters, Narcos: Mexico isn’t dramatically original.

New characters, unexpected twists and familiar memories keep the viewer interested. Michael Pena (as Camarena) and Diego Luna (as Gallardo) are suitably good in their respective roles.

Mirzapur is a nine-episode gangster drama series and the third Amazon Prime original that has been made in India. Fans of the genre had been hoping to see a great show partly due to the hype before the release. The reality, however, is something else

Shreyas Talpade is a talented actor, but he doesn't seem to be finding much quality work in recent times. Baby Come Naa, an AltBalaji comedy series created by Paritosh Painter, shows Talpade as Aditya Tendulkar, who is busy two-timing Sophie (Manasi Scott) and Sarah (Shefali Zariwala). Aditya keeps on running into trouble, and his buddy (Kiku Sharda) has to find ways to bail him out quite often.

Predictably, this comedy about adultery has a generous dose of double entendre. It will entertain those who went rushing to the theatres to watch Kyaa Kool Hain Hum and its sequels. Others will find it dumb and boring in spite of Talpade and Chunky Pandey, who pops up intermittently and tries to inject humour with hardly any success.

Mirzapur is a nine-episode gangster drama series and the third Amazon Prime original that has been made in India. Fans of the genre had been hoping to see a great show partly due to the hype before the release. The reality, however, is something else.

Mirzapur is the web’s response to Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur. The story is set in Mirzapur, a small town in eastern Uttar Pradesh. A mighty don popularly known as Kaleen Bhaiya (Pankaj Tripathi) deals in guns and drugs, which are hidden in carpets. His wayward son is fortunate to have a father who can support him whenever he needs it.

The narrative takes a new direction after Kaleen Bhaiya engages two men, both sons of an honest lawyer. Many old-timers don’t appreciate the decision, his son included. Among the other characters is a former rival who wants to usurp power and an honest cop who wants to make Mirzapur a crime-free place. Several other characters pop in and out of the narrative, which is marred by a mishmash of subplots.

There is no shortage of profanity in Mirzapur. Too much violence makes one mull over its sheer pointlessness on many occasions. An attempt to create a layered story backfires. There are some fine performances with Tripathi and Vikrant Massey (as one of the two sons) leading the way. But then, good acting cannot hide the shortcomings of a weak story.

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