Undekhi (SonyLIV, 10 Episodes)

Directed by Ashish R Shukla

Rating: ***

More of the same, and yet at the top of the game…That just about sums up the second season of 2020’s well-played cat-and-mouse crime thriller about a super-rich wedding, a murder and the affluent arrogance of a family that thinks crime is the only way to stay wealthy.

It’s a world where people get shot randomly, remorselessly. The patriarch of the family(Harsh Chhaya over-the-top) is a drunken lout whose empirical viciousness is manned and powered entirely by his wild nephew Rinku(Surya Sharma, brilliant) .

Rinku remains as interesting in Season 2 as he was the first tiem around. He is rough,rude, violent and unstoppable. Yet he gives us fleeting glimpses of something less toxic specially when his wife Muskaan(Shivangi Singh) is around.Muskaan is another character to look out for. She looks homely but loves guns specially when they are in use and more specially when she is using them.

And the way Muskaan participates in shootouts with her violent husband gives a completely unexpected twist to the till-death-do-us-part theory of marital togetherness.

The women are , in fact, exceptionally aggressive in Undekhi. There is one on the run, a dancer who has tremendous survival instincts in the jungles. Then there is Teji(Aanchal Singh) married to the the most peaceful heir of the violent Atwal family , Teji is rapidly learning the ropes of the illicit business. And then there is Saloni(Ayn Zoya) a television journalist not averse to blackmailing and extortion.

For a series about toxic masculinity the women in Undekhi have a lot to do, and not much of it is legal or legit. Writer Sumeet Bishnoi plunges us into this dangerous sleazy world with no hope for any redemptive thrusts. Nobody changes, there are no character reformations in Undekhi at least not in Season 2.Perhaps the characters will begin to shed their plumes in Season 3. This time, for now, they are avaricious, vicious sneaky and mostly unlikeable.

There is not a single character in this series that I would like to run into at a party. Director Ashish R Shukla just about succeeds in holding this irrevocably immoral world together.A lot of the times in the 9 episodes we see characters on the run from imminent death. Whether it is the tribal girl Koel(Apeksha Porwal) or the slimy blackmailer Timma(Diwakar Jha) they inhabit a dark dreadful world with no way out.

Fast-paced and breathless Season 2 may seem to some like just a repeat performance of Season 1. That , Undekhi 2 is. And yet the core issue of a police inspector Ghosh(Dibyendu Bhattacharya) trying to save a tribal girl from a filthy rich family has a kind of contextual resonance that doesn’t get worn in repetition.

Undekhi 2 has some glaring plotholes—for example, when the two on-the-run journalists Saloni and Shaswat get locked in a truck in a dangerous factory, they announce their presence when they hear a noise outside. Why wouldn’t two people in grave danger just hide until the truck drives out into safety?

A lot of the writing here involves physical action.And yet a sluggishness seeps into storytelling that luckily doesn’t storm into a state of exhaustion . Looking at the brighter side,the characters are never allowed to get lazy, although the writing occasionally does.