If you mention dark Hindi films, the first name that comes to mind is Bejoy Nambiar, courtesy Shaitan and David. Though of late his shine is waning off a bit; even Wazir did not rock the Box Office.
No wonder, when upcoming OTT platform Eros wanted to make a series which left viewers shell-shocked, they asked Bejoy to helm the four-episode Flip. All the stories are stand-alone with a separate cast.
We were not very impressed with the first, called The Hunt, for it took a lot of time before things started to make any sense. The web audience, being fickle, might stop watching by then.
Also, the interplay of the screenplay was a bit complex. The problem with thinking directors is that they want us to use our grey cells a lot. We want to be entertained and not wonder what and why.
The theme of The Hunt was quite barbaric, but then life is not fair and killing has become a sport.
Bejoy’s better half, Sheetal Menon, brought out her character quite well. Naman Shaw, who was successfully able to keep his TV side away, acted well as someone who is fighting to just stay alive. The young girl who played deaf and mute was really spot on and you really feel for her. Ranvir Shorey-led The Bully was an engaging watch. He really brought out the pathos regarding his character. Correct body language and mannerisms added to the narrative. The story centres on how one incident back in college destroyed him completely. Sadly, his attempt to get even years back does not really pan out well. The only problem was that you did not really feel sorry for him till the end. The two stories that really impressed us were The Massage and The Birthday.
The former had Jim Sarbh and Viraf Patel as leads. It took us into Mumbai Parsi life in the late nineties. Jim is the good boy while Viraf is the bad one. The latter takes him to a massage parlour where an accident changes his life. Jim is spot on as someone who has just come out from 20 years of being in coma. The creative could have added more layers to Viraf. Sangeeta Dhar is cute as the woman but she hardly has any role. The surprise ending is left to the viewer’s discretion as to what he or she wants to interpret. Personally, I am not a fan of such stories as you feel short-changed at the end.
The Birthday focuses on superstition. Arjun Mathur plays a man who shies away from marriage and childbirth due to a family curse. Do you talk like this to a four year old? (Watch to know what I mean.)
Arjun’s conversation with friends, which include Shweta Gulati and Sarang, was again full of pathos. Death seems to be the only common refrain.
Shweta Gulati acts well as Arjun’s ex, who could not take his superstition-dominated life. The scene where they casually hook up is common with today’s youth. Lack of precaution costs very heavy for him. Normally it is the woman who suffers, but not here.
In this story, Bejoy went completely overboard with the drugs track. Guess he can’t come out of the Shaitan image.
The run length varied between 22 and 45 minutes. While The Hunt seemed longish (45 mins), the same time for The Massage did not seem too much. The Birthday had apt duration.
The Flip does not have nudity. There are cuss words but this part of the narrative does not seem forced.
There was one proper smooch scene between Shweta Gulati and Arjun, but again, it did not seem sleazy.
While we love the dark underpinnings, the completely amoral architecture gets a bit too heavy. There is no redemption.
Ideally, if the channel wants broad-based numbers, they should infuse some positive elements, which are completely missing. Agreed, this is cult Bejoy territory, but then you lose out on core numbers. And web is all about getting hooked. Not all viewers like dark; hence, the huge moderate base just might keep away.
Already Eros has moved its original content behind the paid window. How many Indians will pay, is the pertinent question. Also Eros, like other OTT platforms, has to fight off the burning issue of piracy.
The channel is hoping to get big numbers from its upcoming biopic on Prime Minister Modi and has slashed charges for the same.