• Original Air Date: 02/03/2020
  • Cast: Arshad Warsi, Barun Sobti, Anupriya Goenka, Riddhi Dogra, Sharib Hashmi, Amey Wagh, Gaurav Arora, Vishesh Bansal
  • Director: Oni Sen

Intelligent, Engrossing and well-acted! …Asur is the need of the hour in the Covid-19 quarantine

An exceptionally gifted kid is born in the home of a Varanasi priest. They name him Shubh. During his birth, his mother dies and his priest father blames him for the mishap. The kid grows up to be exceptionally endowed and angry at the same time. He is able to read whole books and remember them from the age of three years. However, his gifts appear to be the devil’s handiwork to his abusive father. He calls him an Asur. His grandfather loves him and is the only one who cares about his well-being. The kid grows up to be exceptionally knowledgeable in matters of Hindu religion, Mythology, and the Vedas and starts interpreting the religious texts in line with his own understandings of them. Soon a time comes when he decides to murder his abusive father and achieves the same with clinical efficiency. However, a minor chink in his action leads to him being apprehended and his life along with many others is changed forever.

When I saw the promotional material of Asur for the first time on television, I knew that it would be good but I never expected it to be as good as it turned out to be. Mythology is one of the elements of our culture that has deep roots in our consciousness and also our film and television. Ramayana, Mahabharata, Shree Krishna, Jai Santoshi Maa are some of the notable and most popular offerings from this genre. Forensic science, on the other hand, is another aspect of our existence that has been given the least bit of importance in our television and films and the only actual trace of it is the CID lab from the popular TV series CID which provides at best a highly dramatic and at the same time watered-down approach to what Forensic people do. Asur: Welcome To Your Dark Side takes these two elements and presents them in a highly gripping mix that engulfs your senses from the very first episode. For the first time, there was a semblance of realism to how postmortems were shown and choreographed. Actual scientific references were used and they didn’t try to make it easily understandable. They just let the characters talk the way they would if they shared the same department and didn’t shy away from the grotesque imagery.

There have been many fictional references to the mythologies wherein the protagonist or the antagonist has been depicted as one who has been inspired by the Hindu Religion. While the case is similar here, there is a stark difference which changed the game completely for me. The antagonist here tries to justify his actions using the religious texts and tries to prove the point that he is in fact the unavoidable evil that the texts told us would exist in this era. However, through his action and the way his story develops, the director successfully conveys to us that he is actually a product of bad parentage and is nothing more than a deranged psychopath who has exceptional intelligence. His actions were catalyzed by a punitive action that was not strictly speaking legal and he made it his life’s work to avenge himself. That’s what seems to be his primary agenda even though he continuously hints at a larger plan afoot. He even breaks his pattern to get a certain job done that otherwise was unrelated to his overall scheme of things. Thus the series takes a more realistic approach to something that on the surface may seem tried and tested.

Asur: Welcome To Your Dark Side successfully keeps us involved by peeling off layer after layer of the story with efficiency. There isn’t a single episode wherein nothing dramatic happens. From the get-go, the story constantly keeps surprising us and every time we think that we have understood it all, it just springs another surprise. This is something that I thoroughly enjoyed about the series. The episodes do get a bit slow at certain points and some unwarranted scenes do happen that makes us question what was going on in the minds of the makers. But sans that it remains on point throughout its runtime. I also have a major qualm about a video that the antagonist sends to the protagonist of a brutal murder. This video appears to have been shot on a multi-camera setup with expert editing. It just doesn’t fit the bill that it was meant to. There is also a discussion between two women characters — one of whom is trying to console the other — that didn’t make much sense to me.

One of the fortes of Asur: Welcome To Your Dark Side is its performances. Almost all the characters of the series are exceptionally executed but my favorite was Vishesh Bansal who plays the 16-year-old Shubh. The kid is present only sparingly throughout the narrative and yet every time he appears on screen he sends shivers down your spine. Vishesh deserves every bit of the praise that he is garnering and will be garnering in the future for such an authoritative performance that too at his young age. Arshad Warsi is brilliant. One of my favorite performances of Warsi was in the film Seher where he played a cop and he proves yet again that when he is playing a serious cop, he can do wonders. I just loved the kind of composure his character is shown to maintain even when the world around him is going topsy turvy. Barun Sobti is the opposite of him who finds himself in a situation that he cannot escape and is forced to do the devil’s bidding. The actor wonderfully brings out the nuances of his character’s psyche who is forced to cope with the damages that his intelligence and help is letting the antagonist cause. He never goes overboard and is relentless throughout his essay.

Two more actors Sharib Hashmi and Gaurav Arora will definitely grab your attention with their stellar performances. Sharib essays a pitch-perfect CBI cop who is not as smart as his superiors but makes up for it using his hard work and instincts. Gaurav Arora is a motivational speaker who also runs a podcast on associating mythology and modern sensibility. He is someone who may have a link with the antagonist and proves to be invaluable in order to understand the pattern of the antagonist and how he is choosing his victims. Gaurav carries a suave and calm demeanor that grabs our attention and makes us connect with his character. Anupriya Goenka and Riddhi Dogra do a good job but don’t have enough to work with.

Asur: Welcome To Your Dark Side is an unmissable web series because of its content, performances, intelligence and also because of the things that it can become in the future. It is the kind of show that you can easily watch twice and still not get fully and that’s exactly why I loved it so much. A little more penchant for details in certain sequences would have made this series practically flawless. I still loved it and I believe that will be the case with every thinking individual who gives this series a chance.

Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)



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