YEH KAALI KAALI ANKHEIN(2022)

Anchal Singh and Tahir Raj Bhasin in a still
  • Platform: Netflix
  • Release Date: 14/01/2022
  • Cast: Tahir Raj Bhasin, Anchal Singh, Saurabh Shukla, Shweta Tripathi, Brijendra Kala  
  • Creator: Siddharth Sengupta

Where obsessive love turns life-threatening and Bollywood-ish treatment goes unhinged

— Ambar Chatterjee

I had a great time with this series primarily because of how absurd and self-aware it was and yet how engrossing and captivating it ended up being. The story revolves around Vikrant (Tahir Raj Bhasin), a mild-mannered small-town lad whose life is going perfect. He is on the brink of making it big with a dream job and marrying the girl who he has been in love with. But fate has something else in store for him as Purva (Anchal Singh) walks back into his life. Purva is the daughter of the local politician and mafia king, Akhiraj (Saurabh Shukla), and has been in love with Vikrant since childhood.

It only takes a few bizarre situations for Vikrant to realize that Purva will not take “no” for an answer and if she does, she will be very upset about it. Not surprisingly, her marauding albeit doting father will go to any lengths to ensure that she is not unhappy and that includes murdering Vikrant, his entire family, his friends, and the love of his life. Vikrant quickly finds himself trapped in a vicious circle involving Purva’s obsession with him, her father’s cool and calculated penchant for killing off anyone who he feels has a semblance of a chance of disturbing his daughter’s perfect romantic escapade, and Vikrant’s own inability to muster up the courage to face his grotesque predicament and do something about it. What happens next is what the series is all about.

Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein has 8 episodes each of the episodes is 30 to 40 minutes. The central plot of the narrative doesn’t move too far in terms of making headways but each of the 8 episodes is packed with nerve-wracking individual portions and set-pieces that are a part of the larger story. Over the course of the story, Vikrant is forced to marry Purva. His girlfriend and her family are nearly killed twice. Vikrant tries to convince Akhiraj to call off the marriage and finally, he takes it upon himself to kill Purva and his father so as to put an end to the entire ruckus. Each of these plot points is dealt with through individual episodes. While these plot points pushes the narrative forward, the proceedings are so intense and thrilling that one cannot help but be completely invested in the proceedings.

It is only after the series culminates that you ask yourself whether you were rewarded enough for investing 8 hours of your life in this tale that has barely moved from point A to B. There seems to be a whole lot of unanswered questions and plot elements left unresolved to be tied off in what will apparently be an unavoidable second season. I had a similar issue with Siddharth Sengupta’s Undekhi that I found equally fascinating and investing but ultimately incomplete. Having said that, I still enjoyed this series immensely. It has that familiar Hindi pulp-fiction paperback feel to it that was made popular by Haseen Dillruba last year.

Tahir Raj Bhasin with Anant Joshi in a still

Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein is a lot less dark than Undekhi and has a lot more comedy but that never liquidates the seriousness of the predicament of the characters at the receiving end of the political Mafioso and his equally brutal daughter’s wrath. In fact, there are sequences where I held my breath and was expecting the worse. Things more or less pan out as the audiences expect but the narrative of the series is definitely successful in giving its viewers some serious shocks even if it doesn’t break any pre-defined norms of Hindi pulp-fiction paperbacks.  

The biggest credit for the success of the series has to be given to the performances. Tahir Raj Bhasin leads from the front as the protagonist of the series. He has the perfect vibes and mannerisms to sell the character of Vikrant and I was able to take him for the character without any misgivings. He brings enough energy and breathlessness to scenes that involve his near and dear ones in danger. This aspect of the character elevates the affectivity of these scenes. He is earnest in his rendering and leaves an indelible impact with the character.

Saurabh Shukla is a man who makes even poorly written characters worthwhile with his stupendous acting. While Akhiraj is not necessarily badly written, it is definitely very generic and ticks all the boxes for a character of this nature. It is only Saurabh Shukla’s masterful rendition that not only saves the character but also makes it extremely enjoyable. Anchal Singh is sultry and devilish in her rendering of Purva. She brings the right mood and “oomph” factor to the character. I was constantly engrossed by her performance in the key moments of the narrative.

Brijendra Kala as the foul-mouthed father of Vikrant is terrific. His comic timing and his awkward mannerisms make him a standout character in the series in the best possible ways. Anant Joshi as Golden is the next most enterprising performance in the series. I loved his blank expressions in key moments and how he reeled under the piling mountain of dangers resulting from Vikrant’s choices and actions. His one-liners were pure gold. Sadly a powerhouse talent like Surya Sharma who added so much as Rinku Bhaiya in Undekhi is wasted here in a glorified cameo. He basically plays a toned-down version of Rinku Bhaiya from Undekhi that neither has the gusto nor the same impact on the narrative. Siddharth Sengupta should have known better to utilize the man’s acting prowess and physicality.

On the flip side, the series is laced with conducive coincidences and lame logic to aid the proceedings that, after a while, become too apparent and bizarre to play along with. The character of Purva is played for a fool on a number of occasions by other characters even after she is established as a cold and calculative woman who is not fooled easily. A character is presumed dead but then miraculously resurfaces. The explanations provided for her resurfacing is hard to swallow. Characters get lucky a lot and in quick successions. Illiterate goons use technology far beyond their educational reach and they use it to uncanny success. The central plot of the series doesn’t move much through the 8 episodes but does set us up for a rollicking second season.

Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein is a whirlwind and engrossing series that I am sure most viewers will complete and then ridicule. While it is a little low on content, it more than makes up for that lacking with its investing narrative, superb performances, quirky humor, and edge-of-the-seat thrills. It definitely deserves a watch.  

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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