Every so often, on the widespread horizon of the Indian tele-scape, along comes a show that pierces the stratosphere of TV triumph, with consummate authority and unquestionable absoluteness. In recent years, if there’s one show that ticks all the aforementioned boxes, it is Ekta Kapoor’s tour de force, Naagin. Naagin 3 beamed a week back, but we waited to dole out the review. Reason? We wanted to check if the show could hit the ratings ball out of the park (again), and boy…it opened to a great response.

Naagin is a show whose phenomenal success defies all logic– ichhadhaari naags and naagins, revenge plots that reek of populism, eye-catching beauties in sensual avatars– in short, everything that takes us back to the times of yore­– the eighties, if you may.

And yet, despite its plot that borders on (so called) regression, Naagin has consistently hit the jackpot in terms of audience appreciation and eyeballs grabbed. And it continues to hold sway over audience hearts, judging by the incredible opening its latest season has received. Ladies and gentlemen, hold your breath for the full disclosure- Naagin Season 3 has opened to a rating of 4+. Yes, you read that right!

Before we swoon, how, pray tell us, Ms Kapoor. How do you manage to do it, time and again?

Critics of the show may cry themselves hoarse about its regressive premise, its populist devices, and its recourse to superstitious ideas. But hey, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Audiences love Naagin, and that’s that.

Coming to the latest season, it’s obvious that Colors and Ekta Kapoor have a lot riding on the Naagin franchise; and we must say that they have kept up the pace in the just-started Season 3 as well. It has all the required elements, i.e.CG-driven snakes, thrills and oomph. Anita Hassanandani (Vish Khanna) looks smoking hot as the naagin.

Keeping in line with naagin tradition, we have a desolate Haveli and Shiv Mandir, which the uber-rich Sehgal clan, led by Andy (Chetan Hansraj), wants to convert into a hotel. The first attempt to demolish the temple comes to naught.

It is the sheer power of Ekta Kapoor to convince biggies like Karishma Tanna (Ruhi) and Rajat Tokas (Vikrant) to play cameos in the show. Ichhadhaari naag and naagin, Ruhi and Vikrant, have waited for 100 years to get married (what is the reason for continuing youth?), but alas, the bad guys, led by Yuvraj (Ankit Mohan), spoil the party and end up killing a bare-chested Vikrant. And a super cool Ruhi swears revenge, thus setting the stage for the story to come into play. In the interest of gender justice, we implore Ekta to show a male naag taking justice in the next season. Think about the eye candy for girls (wink).

Ruhi shape-shifts into a multi-millionaire Vish (how did she get the moolah?), who partners with the Sehgals for the above mandir and haveli project. She does not wait for long and bumps off one of the eight who were witness to Yuvraj killing Vikrant. To be fair, this guy, who was dumped in the swimming pool, asked for it.

The character of the other lead, Bela (Surbhi Jyoti), seems off; how can a modern girl be so naïve? Not only does she willingly accept to marry Yuvraj in lieu of settling her father’s debt to the Seghals but also turns a blind eye when her fiancé flirts with Vish and invites an ex to their wedding.(Spoiler alert: there will be much more to her in the coming episodes.)

Interestingly, Bela is the only one to find out about Vish’s truth, but alas, has no proof to substantiate her claims.

The only good guy in the Sehgal clan is Mahir (Pearl Puri), the brain behind the business. He loves his younger brother and sisters (nagin victims), led by Yuvraj, and will do what it takes to protect them from any harm. Pearl, realizing that this role can take his career to new heights, is doing a good job.

Ankit is also doing a swell job as the bad guy; however, we wonder whether he is using his own voice or has been dubbed….the voice seems too macho and mature for him.

One other thing that jars is that although Andy has two women (Sumitra and Poulomi Roy) and children with both, the kids love each other. This does not wash as Andy does not promise to share his money equally between his legitimate and illegitimate children.

Wonder why Rakshanda Khan, who has done several strong women role, agreed to play this doormat Sumitra. Pavitra Punia provides comic relief as the Bong-accented other woman, Poulomi.

Ideally speaking, the creatives should have taken an older actor for Andy, but our TV world does have 30+ actors playing fathers and mothers.

The snake CG part is good, sending shivers up your spine. Also, the sound and music helps to create the right atmosphere.

There are a host of other characters that are part of naagin’s hit list, including Pratham (Mithil S Jain); he is not a bad guy, just unlucky enough to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

While critics may pan the show for lack of anything new, and compare its CG with international projects, the real judges (audiences) have already given it a big thumbs up with an opening of 4 plus. Ratings do taper after week 1, but even if that happens, it will still be 3+, which is yet again numero uno.

Apart from looking good, Anita is acting very well; her dance sequence was impressive. There are lots of expectations from Amrapali Gupta, who will enter in a while.

The show began with Mouni Roy as lead in Season 1 and 2, and with no reason being proffered on her being bumped off, it means her track can return. But if current numbers hold, we think there will be no need for that.

The integration of Veere Di Wedding in episode 1 seemed forced and could have been avoided.

We want to see more naagin CG in coming episodes. What we’ve seen so far is good enough as per the plot.

Naagin is beyond ratings…it’s like a bhai film on Eid now. It’s a hit, no matter what…