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Bambai Meri Jaan

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Story: Revisit the period from the 1940s to 1980s in Mumbai underworld when smuggling was the most heinous crime and Haji and Pathan were the mafioso king. The series presents the rise and reign of Dara Kadri, who is torn between his father’s law enforcement legacy and his desire to become ‘Bambai ka Baadshah’.

Review: Set against the backdrop of post-independence India, a time when Mumbai was still known as Bombay, and the underworld held sway, ‘Bambai Meri Jaan’ enters the ring of gritty crime dramas that have explored this period in the city’s history. Drawing inspiration from cinematic predecessors like ‘Company,’ ‘Satya,’ ‘Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai,’ and even the recent documentary ‘Mumbai Mafia: Police vs The Underworld,’ this 10-part fictional drama offers a fresh perspective by focusing on the emotional turmoil of a father-son duo.

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Created by Rensil D’Silva and Shujaat Saudagar, the show delves deep into the criminal activities that engulfed Mumbai, including the birth of D Company, a notorious organized crime syndicate led by Dawood Ibrahim. What sets this series apart is its intimate exploration of the Kadri family’s struggles. Ismail Kadri (Kay Kay Menon), an honest cop, is unwavering in his determination to cleanse Mumbai of its criminal elements, even if it means putting his family in harm’s way. In contrast, his son, Dara Kadri (Avinash Tiwary), dreams of becoming the undisputed king of Bambai alongside his siblings Saadiq (Jitin Gulati), Ajju (Lakshya Kochhar), and sister Habiba (Kritika Kamra).

The stage is set in a city under the control of black money kingpin Suleman Haji (Saurabh Sachdeva), a migrant from Hyderabad, and his formidable partner, Azim Pathan (Nawab Shah), hailing from Afghanistan. They join forces with Anna (Dinesh Prabhakar) to expand their illegal empire, plunging Mumbai into deeper criminality. In response, the ‘Pathan Squad,’ led by Ismail Kadri and fellow officers Younis (Rohit Kokate) and Ahmed (Tauqeer Alam), is formed to combat the growing menace.

‘Bambai Meri Jaan’ excels in weaving an enthralling narrative that keeps viewers glued to their seats, even though the outcome is somewhat predictable. Director Shujaat Saudagar’s decision to focus on the emotional journeys of the characters instead of relying solely on violence adds depth to the storytelling. The series strikes an effective balance between brutality and emotional resonance, offering insights into how Daara ascends to the position of “Bambai ka naya Godfather” in the underworld while his relationship with his father changes dramatically. Within this epic tale of a ganglord’s rise to power, lies the tender love story of Dara and the vivacious Parsi girl Pari, portrayed beautifully by Amyra Dastur.

Produced by Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar, known for their success with ‘Mirzapur,’ this series is another complete entertainer. It boasts a compelling story (S. Hussain Zaidi), crisp and contemporary dialogues (Abbas Dalal and Hussain Dalal), a meticulously designed period setting (John Schmidt), a captivating musical score (Anirban Sengupta), and riveting performances from the ensemble cast. Kay Kay Menon delivers a standout performance as an honest cop and a desperate father, showcasing his remarkable acting range. Avinash Tiwary brings depth to his character, although in some intense scenes, he falls slightly short compared to previous actors who have played similar roles. Kritika Kamra surprises with her portrayal of Habiba, a bold and determined character.

The supporting cast, including Shiv Panditt as a corrupt cop, Vivan Bhathena as Dara’s loyal aide, Lakshya Kochhar and Jitin Gulati as his brothers and Nivedita Bhattacharya as his mother Sakina, add layers to the story. Antagonists portrayed by Saurabh Sachdeva, Nawab Shah, and Dinesh Prabhakar play their part well. All of the cast members leave a lasting impact.

While the series’ ten-hour-long episodes may test the patience of some viewers, a bit more editing could have made it a more binge-worthy experience. Despite this, ‘Bambai Meri Jaan’ offers both substance and soul as it delves into a slice of Mumbai’s gritty reality. If you’re a fan of intense crime dramas, this series is a must-watch, promising a captivating journey through the intriguing world of the Mumbai underworld during a transformative era.

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