Series: 'Duranga' (Streaming on ZEE5). Duration: Nine episodes (30-32 minutes each).
Directors: Pradeep Sarkar and Aijaz Khan. Cast: Gulshan Devaiah, Drashti Dhami, Abhijit Khandkekar, Zakir Hussain and Amit Sadh.
IANS Rating: **
Whenever Gulshan Devaiah takes on a part, one can be rest assured that he will do a brilliant job with it. His work in the recently released series 'Duranga' is another addition to the list.
The streaming series has been co-directed by Pradeep Sarkar, who has earlier helmed films like 'Parineeta' and 'Mardaani', and Aijaz Khan, who has earlier directed the 2018 drama film 'Hamid'.
The series is the official adaptation of the Korean show 'Flower of Evil'. It follows a series of murders and unearth's the past of the show's lead played by Gulshan.
Resurgence of a serial killer, a copycat killer on the loose with similar modus operandi to the original dreaded killer, or the offspring of the original killer?
'Duranga' explores these possibilities as the Mumbai crime branch officer Ira Jaykar Patel (played by Drashti Dhami) investigates the case.
While there are few instances where the series does engage the viewer, it comes across as a drag for most part. Charudutt Acharya's writing is inconsistent as it fails to hold the audience's attention for a long time. The series follows a non-linear narrative with the story travelling back and forth from past to current events.
The dialogues sound flat, a lot of times, during the course of the series. When you have two brains working on putting together a series like this, the least expected for the series is to be engaging throughout its course.
Performances from the cast, however, are the saving grace to the series. As mentioned earlier, Gulshan does an impressive job as the lead. He is supported well by the other cast members. Drashti as the tough cop and compassionate wife puts up an amazing act. Sequences where she leads the team have been executed really well, one can see the seamless sync between the actress and the director(s).
Another good performer in the series is Abhijit Khandkekar, who plays the crime journalist Vikas Sarode. The viewers should lookout for scenes where he swings between the extremes of power dynamics of his character. His voice modulation, facial expressions show how deep he has delved into his character.
On the technical front, the series manages to do a decent job. The urban and rural settings have been well taken care of by the production design team. It's imperative for the art direction team to be a notch higher than other departments as the lead character is an artist and has a workshop, and the art team doesn't disappoint.
What does disappoint is the sound design and dubbing. The dubbing seems to be off at a few instances. The background score too is very mediocre - again a red flag for a thriller. The cinematography offers nothing new and follows textbook shots only to be bogged down by the lacklustre editing.
'Duranga' is a series that viewers can see when they have plenty of time to kill, but they won't miss out on anything if they choose not to watch it.
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