Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein on Netflix: The relationship between love and power

The classic masala thriller, a love triangle and a title inspired by a 90s superhit song, is in itself perfect recipe for cinema, but the storytelling of YKKA is what makes it stand apart

Still from the show
Still from the show

Garima Sadhwani

Have you ever wondered what the relationship between love and power is? What would it be like to fall in love with someone powerful, and have them love you back? What if you could share a happily ever after with them? Seems like wishful thinking. But what if someone powerful falls in love with you and you don’t reciprocate the same? Can there be consequences to that?

Netflix’s latest thriller, Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein, ventures out to explore the latter scenario. Set in a fictional town in North India, it shows a love triangle between Purva, Vikrant and Shikha. Sidharth Sengupta, the writer and director, says that the show was born while the writers were toying with the idea of being on the wrong side of both, love and power.

Anahata Menon, the screenwriter, strongly believes that the classic masala pulp thriller, a love triangle and a title inspired by a 90s cult song, is in itself the perfect recipe for cinema, but the storytelling of Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein is what makes it stand apart.

But that’s what made the writing part the most challenging too. Varun Badola says, “The process was intense and exhausting, to say the least. We probably wrote 15 drafts of each episode, because we felt something can be bettered and kept going back to the storyboard.”

Badola adds that they wanted the script to reach a point where it would organically attract people, without pushing it too much. That’s why it took the three writers over two years to come up with the show. “The first few drafts and the final product are two completely different things,” laughs Badola.

But while the show is set in the world of crime and politics, the writers say it’s a story about neither. Menon says, “The story is really about circumstances that the characters are struggling to survive, circumstances that force them to make morally ambiguous choices, and bring out parts of them that they didn’t know existed.” And that is exactly what makes them nuanced characters as well, says the writer. Sengupta nods in agreement, adding that these characters might be morally questionable, but they’re as real as all of us.

And even though the show revolves around a political family, the writers are quick to dismiss any attempts at political commentary. Badola says, “We are just trying to tell a story about power and desire. We had to set it that way because we wanted to show the stark power difference between our characters.” Badola laughs as he says that hopefully, the audience won’t relate so much to the characters that they call the writers.

With the kind of plot and storyline that the show had, the writers felt it was only fair to set it against the backdrop of the Hindi heartland. Menon says that the setting added a lot of flavours and humour to the whole show, more so because of the endless funny comebacks that the Hindi belt brings with it.

If there’s one thing that truly brings out the idea that the writers envisioned, it’s the cinematography of the show. The juxtaposition of beauty, love and aesthetics against bomb explosions and guns and well, politics. “There is mayhem in beauty, it’s not the other way around. And that stands apart because the show is at the end of the day, a love story, and not something dark,” says Sengupta.

Is there anything that the team would do differently if they had to make the show again? “Again?” the writers sigh in unison. The amount of effort that has gone into Season 1 of the show has exhausted the team enough to know that they don’t want to do it again, despite the ton of fun they had. “We’ll see about Season 2,” they say.

(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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