Amazon Prime has gotten hold of the perfect script for success. And it reads thus- get your finger on the pulse of the millennial, offer them that which sets their drumbeats singing, and yippee– breast the tape in the race to the finish-line.
And Amazon Prime is right on course to doing just that.
Having touched base with edge-of-the-seat originals like Inside Edge and Breathe, and many more in the pipeline, Amazon Prime has gone one step ahead in winning the hearts of its young rooters–piggy-backing on the huge popularity enjoyed by stand-up comics today, the platform has engineered interesting collaborations with their favourite stand-up comics, thus delivering creative, curated content that instantly appeals to gen-next.
In keeping with its innovative plan to garner maximum eyeballs, Amazon Prime had collaborated with Only Much Louder (OML) in 2017, through which it commissioned 14 Indian stand-up comedians to produce original web-series for its platform. And the results are there for all to see– several super-hit web shows, millions of views, and heaps of goodwill for Amazon Prime.
The latest sparkler to release on Amazon Prime, out of those fourteen, is Chacha Vidhayak Hain Humare, an eight-episode web series by Sakht Launda, Zakir Khan. The series is produced by Rasika Tyagi from OML, with Aliya Curmally being the Executive Producer.
Very few entertainers have managed to pierce our collective consciousness, and jumped from relative obscurity to ride the wave of mass popularity. Zakir Khan is one of the few who have. He’s come a long way from his humble beginnings in Indore, his hometown. Loved the world over for his side-splittingly funny stand-up acts, Zakir Khan has become the darling of the teeming multitudes.
The success of the show is thus a no-brainer, given Zakir Khan’s massive fan-following. As for how good the show really is, well, you’ve got IWMBuzz to dissect it for you. Read on to find out, as we separate the crass from the classy-
Chacha Vidhayak Hai Hamare is a show based on the age-old Indian penchant for brandishing one’s political connections, in the face of rules, regulations and authority. ‘Do you know who I am’ is an oft-used maxim, bandied about by the connected, to get their thing done.
Small-town, middle-class India thrives on the power of dropping names. And the ruse almost always works like magic in the tier-II towns of India. Small-town folks swear by the clout of dropping names– mostly that of the reigning local political bigwig – for getting seemingly difficult tasks done in a jiffy. For the same reason, random connections to said politico are thrown about with impunity and complete disdain for prevalent rules or regulations. Then, if the local vidhayak (MLA) happens to be your very own uncle, imagine the clout you command over friends and random acquaintances–hence the name, Chacha Vidhayak Hain Hamare.
That is the story of our protagonist, Ronny Pathak, lovingly called Ronny Bhaiya by everyone around him. Ronny, played by Zakir Khan, has two loyal friends-cum-sidekicks– Anwar, played by Vyom Sharma, and Kranti, portrayed by Kumar Varun. The story is set in Indore, Zakir Khan’s real-life hometown. Everyone knows that the local MLA is Ronny’s Chacha (Uncle). He’s therefore held in high esteem by his cronies and followers. Which is all good, save for one very important fact- Ronny isn’t actually the MLA’s nephew. Taking advantage of the fact that he shares the same surname as the powerful Indore MLA, Ashwini Pathak, Ronny fools everyone into believing that he is the nephew of the MLA.
What follows is often a comedy of errors, peppered by some nerve-wracking moments, and several foolhardy fiascos. To Ronny’s credit, he never uses the MLA’s name to throw his weight around or to take undue advantage of the people around him. Nope; in true filmy fashion, Ronny uses the MLA’s name to play Robin Hood to his band of followers and also to his lady love, Avantika, played by the fresh-faced Venus Singh.
He helps a local kid get his bicycle back from the tough police officer named Singham (a hilarious take on the Bollywood hit, Singham; hence, played by Vineet Sharma of Singham fame), gets train tickets for Avantika’s Mom under the Vidhayak quota, unsuccessfully tries to get Kranti’s friend admitted to the local Government engineering college, helps Avantika’s colleague shame her stalker, who incidentally is his so-called Chachaji’s right-hand man, fronts a campaign against the University Vice-chancellor and lots more.
Every episode features a different escapade, involving Ronny and his ‘farzi’ connection to the MLA, each ending with Ronny bearing the brunt of jumping into the sticky situations. What’s interesting is that all these escapades are borne out of a misplaced sense of altruism or to impress Avantika.
Ronny’s parents, played by the impressive Bollywood actor, Zakir Hussain, and veteran actress, Alka Amin, are tired of Ronny’s shenanigans and want him to take up a job and become more responsible. He also has a sister, Shanoo (Pritha Bakshi), who’s always trying to get one up on him. Ronny’s is quite a thought-provoking character– nuanced, multi-layered and inimitable. Peel away the layers and you find that below all the street-smartness lies a naïve, simple, sucker-for-a-sob-story guy. Essentially flawed– he lies, cheats and even sells his father’s car– yet, he’s a good-natured, soft-hearted bloke, with his heart in the right place. He knows how to run with the hare and hunt with the hound, yet seems vulnerable beyond words. He uses his savoir-faire to help his friends, but lands into deep trouble, jumping willy-nilly from the frying pan into the fire each time. He’s reckless but endearing, stuck in a unique situation- jan-neta for the world, but effectively, just a jobless, irresponsible 26-year old at home.
The series is well-written, with each character etched out in great detail. The story brings out the small-town ethos with absolutely flawless perfection. Purportedly a comedy, it leaves you spell-bound with its hint of emotional pathos. It is narrative-oriented, rather than a haphazard hash of anecdotes. There is no stifling hierarchy– all the characters are in it together. Each character has its space under the sun- Ronny’s loyal friends– Anwar and Kranti– are spectacular characters in themselves. When you watch them together, you can feel it in your gut that the three friends will swim together and sink together.
Kumar Varun and Vyom Sharma shine in the roles of Kranti and Anwar. They are the best thing in the show, apart from our Sakht Launda, of course. Zakir Hussain is outstanding as Ronny’s upright father. Having always seen him play villainous characters in Bollywood movies, his enactment of a soft, caring, but firm father is a revelation. We would love to see more of him in positive roles. Zakir Khan is charming as ever, slipping effortlessly into Ronny’s skin. His mannerisms are winsome; his charisma, compelling. And boy, can he act! Fresh-faced Venus Singh is pleasing as Avantika, bringing a certain charm to her role of a small-town girl. She’s a delightful aberration in today’s world of reed-thin females; her comely and curvaceous form is alluring. Ummm, we hope you don’t take our case on that one– the writer of this piece is female…and straight. So there!
The series has entertaining cameos by popular faces- Abhimanyu Singh as the Vidhayak, Vineet Sharma as Singham, also, Abish Mathew, Atul Khatri – we like! The episodes could have done with sharper editing and shorter runtimes– 25-30 minutes per episode is way too long for a web series.
The sixth and seventh episodes are particularly emotional, as Ronny slips into an abyss of his own making. Things take a turn in the eighth and final episode…..for better….or for worse?
We’ll leave that for you to find out.
In the meanwhile, we, at IWMBuzz, give a 4/5 to Zakir Khan’s novel effort.
(Written By Rashmi Paharia)