IWMBuzz.com reviews the Colors show, Kesari Nandan produced by Contiloe Pictures.

In a TV atmosphere full of dayans and chudails, seeing human stories in itself is a relief.

Colors is attempting to replicate the success of super hit Aamir Khan wrestling film, Dangal, courtesy its new 8.30 pm show, Kesari Nandan, adding family conspiracy (stepbrother and wife) and other, much-needed TV elements to the mix.

The first change is the setting. If Aamir Khan’s rustic character spoke Haryanvi, long-time local numero uno grappler, Hanumant Singh (Manav Gohil), converses in Rajasthani. So the entire cultural backdrop (dressing and mannerisms) also changes. This huge diversity will be India’s biggest strength going ahead, if we can eschew narrow, regional self-interests.

As part of normal TV funda, to start with, Hanumant Singh is given a superhuman edge – he’s shown defeating a rival, despite the latter injecting him with a medicine rendering his arm ineffective. Hanumant then retires from the wrestling pit, expecting his young son, Jagat (grows up to be Shoaib), to one day inherit his sporting mantle. But the poor boy accidently gets shot by the celebratory gunfire to announce his own future coming.

Such incidents have taken several real lives; hope the Government cracks down on such unnecessary display of force.

Interestingly, Manav has not really beefed up for the role. Normally, wrestlers are well-built, agreed; Aamir was not, but he is Aamir. Having said that, Manav was the best TV actor for this role, having the coach image, courtesy The Buddy Project. He is also among the lucky few TV actors to get a lead role at his age; most actors of his age end up playing effete fathers.

Aastha Choudhary also returns to TV after a long break (last seen in Rishton Ke Bhanwar Mein Uljhi Niyati) as Hanumant’s loving traditional wife, Madhavi, and mother of Kesari. However, although she’s there in most scenes, she does not have much to offer yet. We are sure this will change, as Aastha does have the required acting chops – remember her performance in Babul Ka Aangann Chootey Na. She has her work cut out for sure; reprising Sakshi Tanwar will not be a walk in the park.

Jagat’s post-accident treatment drains away most of Hanumant’s wealth. Here, his evil stepbrother, Jorawar (Ankit Arora) enters the party, and collaborates with the moneylender to strip him of his Akhada land. Jorawar and his wife Bijli (Reshma Shinde) had tried earlier machinations to get rid of Hanumant and Madhavi.

Aastha, who was pregnant with baby Kesari when the above accident happened, was forced to give her to someone to care for her, for Hanumant wanted the full family’s attention to Jagat’s rehabilitation. Sadly, rural India still prefers boys over girls. The scene where Kesari demands education instead of a doll is a slap in the face of parochial mind-sets.

Young Kesari (Chahat Tewani) is the life of the show. Her innocence brings a smile on our faces. Like her father, she too is shown to have superhuman skills when she saves the idol mukut from a bird. The chip of the old block Kesari too loves to wrestle, having not only the required physical agility but also the mental strength, which pushes one across the finish line.

She also defeats her elder bro in a bout. It would be interesting to see how Jagat drops out of the race and Kesari steps up to the plate to fulfill Hanumant’s dreams of bringing India a medal, a la Dangal. The rating will decide the pace of the eventual leap. If child Kesari rakes in huge numbers, you might have to wait a long while for adult Kesari to have a podium finish in the games. Full marks to the team, for the initial episodes are running for nearly one hour. So, in effect, Contiloe Pictures is delivering double number of episodes, which must have been a drain. This can be effectively managed if a bank of episodes was made before going on air, but most channels avoid the same, fearing TRP fluctuations might render them useless.

Ankit Arora is doing the bad man avatar to the T. The other supporting cast is equally good. There was one more drawback – in an attempt at cost-cutting, there were not many visuals of rural Rajasthan, complete with camels, which would have added to the earthy beauty of the desi sport called wrestling. The shoot very quickly shifted to a Mumbai set.

Of late, Colors has been going through a rough patch. Not only has Bigg Boss failed to deliver, the numbers of its replacement shows are not much to write home about either. In this scenario, they have high hopes from this show. On paper, Kesari Nandan has everything going for it – hit concept, burning issue of women’s empowerment etc. Yet, sure-shot ratings is a phenomenon that no one has been able to crack. At the end of the day, we can only second guess what weaves magic.

We at IWMBuzz.com credit Kesari Nandan with 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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