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Kaala Season 1

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Story: When a young Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer Ritwik Mukherjee (Avinash Tiwary) is implicated in a massive reverse Hawala racket, he must do whatever it takes to clear his name. In the process, long-buried secrets about Ritwik’s father and a decades-old tale of vengeance resurface, unveiling a shocking truth that began three decades ago.

Review: Is one cracker of an idea enough to be stretched across eight long episodes with a battery of characters and timelines? Yes it is, as director and co-writer Bejoy Nambiar along with four other writers (Francis Thomas, Pryas Gupta, Mithila Hegde and Shubhra Swarup) show us in ‘Kaala’ – a tale of reverse money laundering, where white money is turned into black amidst intense murky politics, greed, rampant corruption and a bloodsoaked display of absolute power. But is that sustainable? Not entirely. And perhaps that’s the reason why Bejoy Nambiar and his team throw in every possible (not plausible) twist in the tale and character trait into the mix, turning a promising premise into a convoluted, overbearing and clunky narrative.

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The show opens with a bang, literally, with a big explosion that is sure to have far-reaching repercussions. Slowly, we are introduced to the first set of characters – Indian army officer Subhendu (Rohan Vinod Mehra), Bismil (Hiten Tejwani) and others. The show then takes a leap of 30 years and then keeps going back and forth painstakingly connecting the dots between the past and the present. An array of characters, directly or indirectly connected with the core story are added in a plot, simmering with constant tension and darkness. A plot where an old army officer’s revenge and a young IB officer’s commitment to his duty are put to test. They are manipulated, instigated and challenged by a number of enemies and traitors.

It’s a super busy screenplay that is just as desperate and relentless as it is engaging. Nambiar stays committed to the pace of his storytelling and keeps unraveling mysterious new curveballs that aren’t always predictable. It does get tiring to keep up with so many tracks running concurrently and the constant switching between the years. But some stories truly stand out. Balwant Singh, played brilliantly by Jitin Gulati captures the arc of a man’s innermost desires and demons to be where and what he wants to be. Ritwik Mukherjee is pitch perfect, as the young and committed IB officer Avinash Tiwary, whose struggle is real. Taher Shabbir looks dapper as the cut-throat and ruthless business baron Naman Arya. Hiten Tejwani is good within the limited scope of his role and so is Rohan Vinod Mehra as a vengeful army officer. Nivetha Pethuraj as IB officer Sitara and Elisha Mayor as Aaloka are the only two women with noteworthy screen time. Mita Vashisht as West Bengal’s chief minister is a gross caricature of a politician with an accent that sounds more like a spoof than authentic. It’s unintentionally funny.

With all its elements, ‘Kaala’ remains dedicated to offering a grand cinematic experience, even when viewed on a smaller screen. Loaded with intense action, adrenaline-pumping car chases, and explosive scenes, the story is skillfully brought to life. Despite its shortcomings, it consistently provides an engaging dose of excitement in a fictional narrative of power, politics, and the darker aspects of human desires, making it a watchable experience.

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