'Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhen': Insanely fast-paced crime thriller that has you hooked

The writing is unabashedly pulpy and the twists in the plot, specially from midpoint are mind numbing. To his credit, screenwriter Siddharth Sengupta sustains the pulpy momentum right till the end

'Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhen': Insanely fast-paced crime thriller that has you hooked
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Subhash K Jha

If you have seen Siddharth Sengupta Undekhi for Applause Entertainment you know he is most comfortable in the world of ‘unorganized’ crime. Self-appointed gang lords and their thoroughly bratty children, powered by rudderless goons who think they can get away with murder, literally, make Sengupta’s blood boil.

There is an undercurrent of simmering spleen in Yeh Kali Kali Aankhein (named after a hit song from the Shah Rukh Khan starrer Baazigar for no particular reason) a looming resentment against the things people with money and power can do to the powerless. This is a series about the abuse of power of wealth, about lawless gangsters forcing their will on the helpless: a favourite theme in our cinema for years.

But wait. There is a twist to the tale here. The bully patriarch, played with unerring pitch-perfection by Sourabh Shukla, has a lovely daughter and she is in love with the poor little pretty-boy since school. Purva, played by the lovely Anchal Singh, is no walkover. Nor is she the vampish Bindu of yore slithering and slobbering all over her object of desire.

The writing is unabashedly pulpy and the twists in the plot, specially from midpoint are mind numbing. To his credit, screenwriter Siddharth Sengupta sustains the pulpy momentum right till the end. The frenetic pace, often literally staged with goons chasing law-abiding god-fearing citizens to their death, never slackens.

Seen in the spirit of Sidney Sheldon’s fiction-in-motion. Yeh Kali Kali Aankhein is a sock-in-the-tummy entertainer. It is set in a town by the Ganga named Onkara (a stand-in for Varanasi or Allahabad). The last two episodes which turn dark and murderous, are shot in Ladakh with the change of visuals serving a specific function.

I saw no compromises in production values just because the size of the screen has shrunk. The series has an eye-catching look and a lived-in feeling.

All the actors from Tahir Raj Bhasin (so ridiculous in his bewigged Mahesh Bhatt avatar in this week’s other series Ranjish Hi Sahi) and Shweta Tiwari, playing the simple-minded couple whose togetherness is shredded by the murderous machinations of the rich woman to the typecast Brijendra Kala (as Bhasin’s domineering father) and Surya Sharma as Purva’s borderline psychotic brother (almost a repeat of what this talented actor played in the same director’s Undekhi) all do well for themselves.


But the real catch of the serial is Anchal Singh as the won’t-take-no-for-an-answer lover girl. She plays the part in dignified measured tones giving Purva a kind of grace that perhaps the character doesn’t deserve. Also, watch out for Anant Joshi as Vikrant’s best friend. He is the comic relief and a welcome one for a change. And Purva’s rapper-suitor played by Nikhil Pandey is a hoot.

I wish the narration was not so anxious to take audiences along. A kind of desperate breathlessness does seep into the storytelling at times. But that’s okay. Better than 10 episodes of languorous tedium that we’ve been subjected to in some recent serials.

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