Allegations of fake encounters have always marred the reputation and integrity of the security forces, including the Indian army.
This, in a nutshell, is the story of the new ALTBalaji and ZEE5 web series Code M, starring Jennifer Winget and Tanuj Virwani.
As it happened in Batla House, a respected officer is killed along with two alleged terrorists, and the families of the latter allege foul play.
Under pressure, the government forces the army to institute an inquiry to find out what and why?
Enter, officer Monica Mishra (Jennifer). Her first scene has her partying and then using her bravery and wit to stop a rich drunk brat from murdering for a mere drink (Jessica Lal), with the don’t mess with the Indian army line, which brought cheers from the audience.
Her equation with boyfriend Dashrath Arora (Kashyap Shangari) is cute, and she keeps asking him if he is ok with her continually taking off for work.
So far, Jenny has got just one snuggling scene. ALTBalaji sure knows which genres require nudity and sex. Ekta’s serious drama-based shows like Test Case, Baarish, and now Code M, fulfill all PG13 criteria.
She does not seem interested in her guy. Marrying him seems more about getting on with life and making mom happy.
Cut to Jodhpur army base, where the head Colonel Suryaveer Chauhan (Rajat Kapoor) and father of the dead officer’s fiancée, gives a dressing down to the boys who are rooting for a cricket match about their personal score (slaying terrorists). His other scene of disciplining an over-enthusiastic officer during combat training was fun.
His line that do I care about protesters might anger human rights loving viewers.
He welcomes Monica and asks her to quickly close the inquiry so they can get back to the business of protecting our borders.
Monica meets the other officers involved in the encounter at a party and plays dare. The guys do make passes at her, which she fends off with elan (all working women are past masters at that). One of the officer’s better half will play an essential role as the narrative rolls forward, based on her solid memory.
She soon gets a tip-off, suggesting that the guys are lying. One thing we did not get – who green-lit the encounter in the first place?
As part of her investigation drill, she goes into bazaars sans protection to quiz people. Is this not against SOP? Ideally, judicial officers call the witness to depose under oath.
The officers under the lens then turn to Monica’s ex, Angad Sandhu (Tanuj Virwani) as their defence lawyer. Both had an affair years back. The two had gone their separate ways due to her wish to follow her heart.
Some might question Jeniffer smoking and abusing (one scene each), but then today, young female executives do puff away or abuse when under stress, and her character is under a lot of pressure.
Serena (Meghna Kaushik), aka fiancé of the dead terrorist, will play an important role in the story going forward. Just one thing- while her control over Urdu is reasonable, yet she ends up saying baby rather than bibi (both words sound similar. Maybe I heard wrong)
This is where the story stands at the end of three episodes.
Honestly, the drama could have been edgier. Also, the build-up is slow. Agreed, stories take time to gain traction, but sadly, OTT viewers don’t give you that liberty.
Jennifer comes across well as a hard-nosed investigative lawyer. She has successfully overcome the saas-bahu handicap, which has hamstrung other TV leads, courtesy her roles in Beyhadh and other shows.
Tanuj’s character has an early spark of brilliance. We are sure there will be lots of clashes between him and Monica, leading to love?? Where will the poor BF go?
Producer Samar Khan and his team also needs kudos for superb outdoor shooting. Handling logistics in our western desert state is no walk in the park.
Given the way the first three episodes have come out (there was a special screening last night), I have high expectations from the remaining. You can bingewatch the entire series when it drops tomorrow.
It is good to see that desi web content is now maturing. I hope a time could come when it would have the gumption to tackle burning political, social and religious issues of the day. Cinema was always bogged down by censorship, which does not afflict the web!
In the meanwhile, 3/5 is our rating for Code M.