Kate is fun!

Despite what the internet might tell you Kate is an engaging Netflix Original with some pretty slick action sequences and a car chase that reminded me of the motorcycle chase from Gemini Man though I’m not quite sure if the Kate sequence was 120fps too, no I don’t think so, considering the fact that it’s a Netflix film ultimately, costs and all.

What’s with French directors and the assassin genre? Or is Cedric Nicolas-Troyan paying a tribute to his favorite Luc Besson films from La Femme Nikita to Leon to Lucy ? Kate might even be Mathilda all grown up. That being said, Kate doesn’t exactly have a new story to tell you here but some really good writing by Umair Aleem has aided the director who almost won an Oscar as a visual effects supervisor, in pulling off a decent action flick. Interestingly, I felt that underneath, Kate is also a political film. A film set in Tokyo where western assassins aid warring Yakuza clans finish off each other. The writer talks through the ageing Yakuza boss when he says that the westerners take all from cultures they do not understand until there’s nothing left and that they then empty their bowels on the whole world. And you expect the western media to shower petals on this film, Mary Elizabeth Winstead or not?

Speaking of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, she carries the film entirely on her shoulders. She’s not exactly Keanu Reeves but she’s got some mean “gun- fu” skills if you know what I’m talking about. I felt that she was a tad slow in the action sequences when it came to movements but she more than just makes up with her swag. And the camera moved like it had a black belt of it’s own so that helped too. Woody Harrelson plays Leon to Mary Elizabeth’s Mathilda – Kate and is his smouldering self. Miku Martineau just might be the next teen star and she did hold her own with the talented Winstead. With the action genre trying to re-invent and realign itself with the shift in gender politics of late, that pairing helps the film’s cause in more ways than one. And it would be a crime not to mention Jun Kunimura and I can’t but help say this – കിളവൻ ആള് കൈരളി ആണെന്ന് തോന്നുന്നു!
Watch Kate and find out why.

kate #Netflix

Godfather Of Harlem : Forest Whitaker brings you a show you can’t refuse binging.

From the creator of Narcos Chris Brancato comes this heavily fictionalised account of the life of the African American mobster Bumpy Johnson. The show starts off with Bumpy’s return to Harlem after a decade in prison and chronicles his attempts to reclaim his neighbourhood from the Italian mob. Bumpy portrayed here by Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker finds his arch nemesis in Vincent “ Chin” Gigante played by Vincent D’Onforio. Set in New York City of the early 60s, Bumpy is seen to be closely associated with prominent figures of African American community of the era, namely Malcom X and Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the first African American Congressman from New York. JFK and Martin Luther King are other historical figures who do not appear on the show but are constantly referred to and are major influencers of the socio political situation that Bumpy Johnson and his crew thrives in. There’s even a scene where Muhammad Ali when he was still Cassius Clay reaches out to Bumpy Johnson at a crucial juncture in his career. The show indulges in a bit of magical realism when Bumpy Johnson, Malcom X, Adam Clayton Powell and the Italian Mob are seen cheering for their favorite contender in the 1963 bout between Cassius Clay and Doug Jones. Though there’s no actual record of Malcolm X or Bumpy being present at Madison Square Garden to watch the match, it’s almost as if we are reliving history, that’s how well made this show is.

Godfather of Harlem is an incredibly well written show and it strikes the right balance between drama and history. Bumpy Johnson is no saint though he is portrayed as a mobster with a philosophical bent of mind, who plays chess and has a liking for literature. But he is ruthless and doesn’t blink an eye when he has to take a life. He also destroys the very community that he stands for when he indulges in the drug trade and ultimately sows the seeds for the opoid crisis. The show also dwells on how this in fact affects his personal life through the character of his estranged daughter. Johnson’s wife Mayme Johnson whose biography supposedly provided much insight for the writing is an influential figure in his life and the community and is portrayed by Ilfenesh Hadera. Another influential New York socialite Amy Venderbilt who had a soft spot for Bumpy and whom he turns to for help on more occasions than one is played by Joanne Kelley.

Chris Brancato believes that Goodfellas rather than The Godfather is closer to reality when it comes to the mafia and he says that ultimately they’re all driven by money and the idea that dealing in drugs was against a code of honor was actually a myth. According to him it was the harsher prison sentences that made the Italians wary initially. Bumpy Johnson wanted to study law but he couldn’t simply because the college wouldn’t accept him on account of his ethnicity. For a person like him in those times, a life of crime was one way to climb the social ladder. The Italian mafia being the mafia never holds back when it comes to expressing their hatred for other ethnic groups and their approach to the African American community is no different , there’s no veil here. It’s against this system that Bumpy goes up which makes him the hero figure in his community and the story. Thrown in the midst is a love story between the mob boss’s daughter and an aspiring African American singer, the repercussions of which Bumpy uses to his advantage. Most of the story is set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. Malcom X who believes that Islam is the path of emancipation for his community is at loggerheads with Martin Luther King as well as Rev. Powell who is a Christian minister. In fact the final episode of S01 is named “Chickens come home to roost” , which was Malcom X’s response to the JFK assassination. Nigel Tatch plays Malcom X here and interestingly he played the same role in Selma. Giancarlo Esposito is a revelation as the flamboyant and controversial Rev. Powell. All of these characters have their own agendas and a symbiotic relationship too and the show is as much about them as it is about Bumpy. Ultimately they’re all fighting oppression in their own ways and at the end of the day that’s what the show is ultimately about and there couldn’t be a more apt title. Godfather of Harlem indeed. It would be a crime not to mention the brilliant soundtrack of this show, which is one of best albums to hit the screens after Black Panther. Look out for Forest Whitaker’s “gangsta walk” to the tune of Cross the Path in opening scene of S01 E02. The show also won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Title Design.

To Binge Or Not To Binge : Nine Thrillers.

If you are experiencing a binge withdrawal syndrome because you’ve already streamed the hell out of the likes of True Detective, Mindhunter, Line of Duty, Money Heist, Stranger Things, and Unbelievable to name a few of the main”stream” favourites and the play something button isn’t helping much either, this might help. Or not.

Giri/Haji I Netflix I Japanese/English

Has it all, the Yakuza, London gangsters, good cops, bad cops, conflicted cops, daughters, moms, wives, girlfriends and grandmothers battling their demons between London and Tokyo. Breaks a few racial stereotypes to an extent and is grim, witty and poignant at the same time. Definitely binge-worthy.

The Innocent I Netflix I Spanish

Orio Paulo who’s totally capable of pulling off decent twists on his own collaborates with Harlan Coben whose plots have more twists than a steel reinforcing bar, so to speak. Some of these can be quite outlandish though the pace makes up for plausibility. Features Orio’s regular cast here too and manages to keep you hooked to the end.

Safe I Netflix l English

Harlan Coben has a Netflix deal and he’s on a quest to find out if languages and cultures are a barrier when it comes to plot twists. This series is about a girl who goes missing in a gated community and her dad played by Michael C. Hall sets out on a frantic search for her, uncovering more secrets than he would have liked about the people in his perfect life.

The Stranger | Netflix I English

Harlan Coben again and this time it’s about a stranger who seems to be on a mission to disrupt the lives of some decent folk. It doesn’t have any of the dark humor Coben has infused in his other shows on Netflix and is rather grim and there is this sense of impending doom throughout. Oh yes, twists too.

The Alienist I Netflix I English

A period thriller set in New York just before the dawn of the 20th Century. Based on a bestseller by Caleb Carr, Dakota Fanning steals the show literally from her co stars Luke Evans and Daniel Bruhl. The mood in general is that of the umpteen Jack the Ripper spin offs and Sherlock Holmes shows that we have seen before but still makes for an engaging watch and S02 would rank higher than S01 in my book in terms of closure.

Erased l Netflix l Japanese

Based on a manga and Netflix has listed both the manga and live action versions. You could call it the Japanese Stranger Things. A compelling watch of a thriller that pushes all the right buttons. All it takes to be a hero is a heart, says the show.

Beyond Evil I Netflix l Korean

The K-Drama obsession with serial killers and food continues. But the show elevates itself here with some consistently good writing across episodes and performances to back from a couple of incredibly talented actors. Of course that’s again a perspective subject to cultural sensibilities.

Bosch I Amazon Prime I English

I had been skipping Bosch for the longest time and once I streamed it, had me wondering why. If you are a fan of The Wire, you might end up loving Bosch just because more than a few actors from that show makes appearances here thanks to show runner Eric Owermeye . Based on books by Michael Connelly the show is about a relentless detective on the mean streets of LA, Harry Bosch played by Titus Welliver. You might just end up like Bosch, relentlessly streaming the seven seasons.

La Mante I Netflix I French

It is essentially a French twist to the Hannibal Lecter lore, The Silence Of the Lambs to be
specific and has been around for a while. Despite the inevitable comparisons the show might still work for you if grim thrillers are your thing.

Game Of Thrones, The Indian General Elections and Some Late Theories.

Consider the predicament of an average Indian who is also a GoT fan. The election results would be out on May 23 and HBO would be airing the final episode on May 19. That’s one mass post partum syndrome, if I may, I’m curiously looking forward to witness and yeah, experience too. If you can still remain sane after dealing with the kind of speculation that’s going round in both cases wherever you turn to, that in itself is an achievement, I’d say. Come to think of it, the Indian Elections and GoT are not too different from each other, given the ruthlessness and deceit rampant in either, for starters. Loyalties switch before you blink in both realms too, so to speak.

The most stark -pun of course unintended- of similarities is the fact the common man or the masses do not matter at the end of the day in Indian politics and GoT. The Indian politicians know what buttons to push to make the populace dance to their tunes and when it comes to GoT the masses serve little other purpose than to be blown up or burned down in hordes. Ultimately both are about the ruling classes and their struggles to stay in power. The one and only difference that I can think of is the fact that GoT has at least one honorable character, that being Jon Snow.

Theories about the fate of the characters in GoT have been dime a dozen since the first season aired and though I held out from succumbing to the speculation frenzy for long, looks like I’ve finally given in. Now that the Bran- Night King angle has died a cold death, it’s back to game of thrones, literally. It’s men and women against each other. There are ones with rightful claims to the throne and there are ones with ambitions and aspirations, this is an early instance of one such display of pure naive desire. Let’s see how that plays out for Jon, et al.

True Detective | S03 |

After a stellar Season One and a rather lacklustre Season Two, True Detective returns to form in Season Three. The characters played by Woody Harrelson and Mathew McConnaghuey may not have had closure personally or professionally, nor did the show and neither did they offer us the audience any but we still loved them anyway in the first season, which ultimately ended up  making life difficult for every other proponent of the genre out there. The makers changed the rules of the crime thriller genre at least for television with the slow burner show. Season Two had Colin Farrell playing lead and the fate of the show was not much different from the state of his once promising career, to say the least. Season Three features Mahershala Ali and, he is the new Denzel Washington I’d say. Reason enough to binge and that’s exactly what I did.

Deaths, abductions and grief are what drives the tale forward in the third installment too. It’s not exactly a battle of wits in True Detective, it never was. There’s no Moriarty out there to outwit and the detectives are no Sherlocks either. These are troubled indviduals with emotions and failings not too different from the lives, rather deaths,  they investigate and get immeresed into utlimately. Much like the first season, the third deals with an investigation that has gone cold. That’s not the only similarity, though there are differences too, one being the fact that the tale switches between three different timelines in the lives of the investigators played by Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff, compared to the two timelines in Season 1. Maybe I should stop talking about Season 1. Yeah. The series starts off with the disappearance of two siblings in smalltown Arkansas. Pizzolatto weaves an intricate tale around the incident, that spreads over three decades.

One would be tempted to say that the series sits squarely on the shoulders of Mahershala Ali but that would be immensely unfair to Stephen Dorf who is literally a powerhouse of talent if you ask me. He more than just holds his own in what’s mostly a show that’s almost built for Mahershala to show off his acting chops. The show is as intense and brooding in tone as they come though it opts to go easy on the viewers towards the end this time around and offers some closure. But true to the spirit of the anthology, it does make the audience work for it and demands just more than passive engagement from it’s viewers. Nic Pizzolatto I think it’s safe to say, has salvaged whatever he lost in Season 2 here with the eight episodes of Season 3. The one thing that stands out is the making, especially the make up department. It’s amongst the best you would ever come across irrespective of screen sizes. Mike Marino is the man responsible and he has probably showed Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff exactly how they would look in another 30-40 years, without resorting to CGI. You have to see it to believe it and trust me you would notice it. When Mahershala Ali delivers an astounding performance as a man in his post retirement years with all that prosthetics, I’m not quite sure what’s to be lauded here, his skills as an actor or the skills of Marino.

Selection Day | S01 | Netflix

Yet another Indian Original has debuted on Netflix and is based on Aravind Adiga’s eponymous novel. A Booker prize winner, cricket and Netflix, sounds like a match made in Indian binge-heaven. I haven’t read Adiga’s work and knew little of the book when I slouched on the couch and decided to netflix (v) the other day. For a nation obsessed with anything related to cricket, it’s a bit surprising that we do not have as many movies or shows based on this favorite sport of ours as we would have liked to have had. I mean, considering the number of movies that the Americans have made on Baseball and Football and Basketball and Boxing, we pale in comparsion given the fact that we are equally obsessed with the showbiz too. If I must name one, Nagesh Kukunoor’s Iqbal is the only film that did justice to the true spirit of the game I feel.

Selection Day chronicles the lives of two young boys from a village in Madhya Pradhesh, who are groomed by their father to be the best batsmen cricket has ever seen. Rajesh Tailang plays the father and you see him telling another  character early on that he married the mother of his children because she was a star hockey player who could mother champion sons for him. Grooming is a subtle word, considering his obsession with the cause and that being the Under- 16 selections for Mumbai. The show starts with him moving the kids to Mumbai as the day edges closer. Yash Doyle and Mohammad Samad play the champions to be. Samad was seen in the rage of the season, Tumbaad recently and is one actor to watch out for. Karanvir Malhotra is another new face. Mahesh Manjrekar reinvents himself as the reluctant coach Tommy Sir. Giving him company is television and stage veteran Ratna Pathak Shah. Shiv Pandit appears and disappears, literally. Akshay Oberoi plays an industrialist chasing dreams of a different kind. Making an impression in a couple of scenes as “Gulshan” is Dibyendu Battacharya and something tells me we are going to see more of him in the industry. The strength of the show is perfect casting and earnest performances from these actors with some great writing to help them do that too. I have to read the book before Season 2 comes out to tell you if it’s Adiga or the writers who have done the work here.

Much like the T20 version of cricket that’s being marketed  by cricket boards these days, Selection Day too keeps the episodes short, this helps when you binge on a regular weekend. In fact the whole running time is lesser than that of a Bollywood film. But that doesn’t take away any of the fun or the charm of the series. I think it’s safe to call it the Malgudi Days of our times. You’d infact find yourself wanting Selection Day to return faster than you want Sacred Games to. Adiga’s writing has been branded Dickensian by critics I’m told and Selection Day is no different from what I have witnessed. Udayan Prasad, the director has done a fine job of translating Adiga’s vision on to the screen. I’m divided now though, like a batsman eyeing the fielder and looking for that second run. I could wait for Season 2 to find out the fate of the characters or I could go get the book off the closest shelf and something tells me I’m not the only one in that predicament.



Dogs Of Berlin | S01 | Netflix

The  90s opened the Hollywood floodgates to India thanks to Mr.Manmohan Singh and his policies. Major American movies were hitting local cinemas without much delay. The advent of Cable TV that followed soon ensured that you were hooked early on with the trailers that popped up on the Star Network. No, teasers weren’t a thing back then. Con Air was released in 1997 and was a personal favorite for a long time. Nicolas Cage it seemed, was done with serious Cinema and was trying to turn himself into an action hero. Wouldn’t blame him, something as intense as Leaving Las Vegas could do that to any actor. There was a slew of action films that starred Cage in his macho avatar from The Rock to Face-Off to Gone in Sixty Seconds and they remain favorites from a time when everything awed me. Cable TV back then was the internet, to put things in perspective. Con Air even had me taking upside down push ups, yeah. The movie had a lot of bad guys who said a lot of cool lines, at least it sounded cool to me back then. But I was in for a shock when I watched the film recently, two decades later. The movie reeked of racism and prejudice. I guess this is what happens when your world view changes. You don’t actually need to look for “subtexts” in Con Air to see all that’s wrong with the film, it’s been laid out blatantly, unapologetically. If Con Air was criticised for its racist content at the time of it’s release, it didn’t reach my part of the world. These days everything is scrutinised, some deservingly, some not. Irrespective of intentions, the scanner is working round the clock. If you are a serious student of Cinema and the society, you tend to look for it, at times it hits you right away. And I don’t take upside down push ups anymore either.

Now, the reason why I deliberated extensively on Con Air is because I chanced upon Dogs Of Berlin, a German Original on Nefltix the other day and was mid way into the first episode when I found myself asking if this too was biased and it bothered me because I liked what I had seen already. I didn’t want the urge to read into the subtexts to ruin this for me. More than being just a source of entertainment the most important aspect of cinema that fascinates me is the fact that it is the universal language that connects us human beings despite the geographic, genetic and cultural differences that we use to differentiate and identify eachother with, on a daily basis. I have said this aloud more than once. This is even more true in this age of unlimited exposure thanks to the internet. Netflix, Prime and other streaming portals have magnfiied this exposure by facilitating access to innumerable shows from other countries too. Dogs Of Berlin, which debuted on Netflix this month is the second German series to catch my eye, the other being Dark. Run Lola Run, The Lives Of Others and Der Baader Meinhoff Komplex are the only German films that I have watched and they were fine examples of German Cinema. Dogs Of Berlin showed promise early on and hence my apprehensions too.

Dogs Of Berlin looked different and relevant even with the minimal understanding I had of the present day German society. Cars and football are what comes to mind first when one thinks of Germany and of course it’s Nazi past. In stark contrast to that chequered past, Germany under Angela Merkel has had a different approach towards migrants and asylum seekers, especially in the wake of the Syrian crisis. Merkel’s policies were even blamed for having triggered the migrant crisis in Europe. Though it doesn’t exactly unfold against the backdrop of this migration, Dogs Of Berlin does deal with the German society that’s now a melting pot of cultures and the conflicts that are inevitable in such a scenario. The series is about an investigation into the death of a German footballer of Turkish origin on the eve of a football match between Turkey and Germany. There are multiple narratives woven into the story and they function in perfect cohesion as the series progresses, with the precision of a BMW engine. The death is discovered by a German police officer who has a gambling problem and is essentially the bad cop of the tale here. It does’nt help that he used to be a neo-nazi and that his brother who sports a moustache and a Hitler haircut and estranged mother are still very much a part of the organisation in Berlin. The good cop is another German, but of Turkish origin and is a representative of the Turkish diaspora in German, which I later found out, was substantial. The investigation is essentially a tour of the German underworld. We are introduced to the Lebanese Mafia in Berlin early on and they are the drug pushers, the Yugoslavs are not far behind with their grip on the football bookkeeping, there’s a Turkish biker gang who lament that they had to settle for  the protection racket and of course there’s the Neo-Nazis who hate everything that’s not German by heritage.

The German Turk and the German German are forced to team up due to political reasons but they have no love lost for each other. The investigators have their own agendas and  their share of personal problems which ultimately catch up with their professional lives as the tale progresses. The German cop’s wife has her set of  demons that she is forced to deal with on her own, which doesn’t end well for him or her. The cop on the other hand is having an affair with his childhood friend. The Turk is gay and has daddy issues. His father refuses to accept him for what he is and he is an emotional wreck. His ex on the other hand is dating the Lebanese Mafia kingpin who in turn is  dealing with a  younger brother who wants to be top dog in the organisation. This brother also wants a piece of the betting business run by the Slavs and is tyring to turn a promising player of African origin who just debuted on the national team. Thrown in the midst of these are a couple of  other characters  who have a story of their own but they fit perfectly into the jigsaw that this series is. The series is highly provocative and even hints at corruption and coercion that goes up to the highest echelons of the German football administraion. Initially you cant but  help notice that the makers have portrayed the outsiders as the ones on the wrong side of the law  mostly or as the ones who are tempted to stray. The Neo-Nazis get a rather sympathetic portrayal I coudn’t but help notice and the series justifies their existence by the pitching them as a reaction to the menace the immigrant gangs have become. Though the series takes the Dan Brown way out of this web of deceit and deception at the end, what’s  commendable is fact that despite the staggering number of parallel narratives, the series stays on course for most part. Apart from getting to know a bunch of talented German actors, thanks to the series, I did end up learning the German word for migrant workers, Gastarbeiter. One man’s Bengali is another man’s Gastarbeiter, to put things in perspective.



Bodyguard | S01 Netflix | BBC

Twenty minutes. That’s all  it took for Bodyguard, the BBC show that debuted on Netflix the other day, to get me hooked. And I presume I’m not the only one, if the rave reviews and ratings the show garnered on it’s original release on the BBC network are anything to go by. In fact those  very twenty mintues are all it took again for none other than Theresa May to switch off the show too, as she herself told the Press. Now, that should add some perpsective if you’re looking for some. Whatever you have heard or read about the show is entirely justified I vouch, now that I have binged through the six seaons of some very  British intrigue and thrills. Come to think of it, from Sherlock to Line of Duty to The Night Manager, the BBC have proven time and again that when it comes to the very serious business of classy thrillers and gritty police procedurals, they are past and reigning masters.

For a show that moves at the pace it does, Bodyguard  touches upon on a range of issues from PTSD to xenophobia while telling a decent tale of intrigue. Hollywood has used all variants of PTSD to set the cash registers ringing right from the Vietnam War days  to the American campaigns in the Middle East and around but it’s not everyday that you get to see a troubled British war veteran on screen. In fact I’d go so far as to say that David Budd, the central character played passionately by Richard Madden is nothing less than a modern British version of  John Rambo, that quintessential poster boy of PTSD, on celluloid. Bodyguard was fearless too I felt for most part as it did not stick to stereotypes and shunned prejudice early on but it has to be said that it turned out to be a deftly played card of a plot twist which was indeed disappointing to an extent. Reminded me of the regular Dan Brown template for thrillers where every major instituition as we know it is attacked  and portrayed as agents of evil but the actual acts of crime turns out to be the doing of one deranged  mind. The writers have obviously heavily borrowed from current day British politics and the PM in Office currently was interestingly the Home Secretary too earlier, which is one of the main characters here, played by a short-haired Keeley Hawes. In a curious gender reversal of sorts the incumbent PM in Bodyguard resembled Boris Johnson and the Home Secretary is the one who is after his job here, deft sleight of hand by the writers indeed.

Apart from the writing, much of the intensity on the screen owes it to the performances of the lead actors, namely Madden and Keeley Hawes. Richard Madden who made a name for himself as the short lived but much loved Robb Stark on HBO’s Game of Thrones is the mainstay here and has delivered a moving and engaged performance. Keeley Hawes plays a character that has shades of the one she played in Line of Duty, to an extent and is most probably the reason why she was cast in the role of Julia Montague, the Home Secretary. Other actors who make more or less silent entries early on but go on to make their mark towards the end. Nina Toussaint-White, Ash Tandon and Anjli Mohindra stands out in their roles and something tells me we’d be seeing more of them in the future as actors. Recent BBC shows have displayed active engagement in the cause of diversity when it comes to casting and is essentialy a reflection of the British society at large too I feel. Bodyguard is not without faults entirely but it makes for an engaging and intelligent watch. One thing I like about the BBC shows is that they are short but intense affairs in contrast to epics like Breaking Bad. Unfair, unnecessary and pointless comparision I agree but that’s just me and trust me I’m not complaining.


The Night Manager | S01 Amazon Prime

If you have wondered how and why did Tom Hiddleston’s name came into reckoning as the new James Bond you do not need to look for more reasons to watch The Night Manager, which I came across on Amazon Prime a tad late. You knew Tom Hiddleston as Loki in the MCU and yes, that didn’t necessarily qualify him as a contender to the Bond mantle by any stretch of imagination. Though he has supposedly lost out, his role and performance in this BBC original to an extent justifies the proposal and I can see now why he was in the news as a wannabe Bond but then John Le Carre’s operatives are diametrically oppostie to Ian Fleming’s and is not exactly a stepping stone to the Bond franchise. Joining Hiddleston is Hugh Laurie, in a role that’s basically Goldfinger sans the theatrics.

Le Carre’s spies almost have desk jobs unlike the gun gadget and girl swapping Bonds we have come to love over the years on the screen. They are conflicted, torn individuals who are affected by the ways of  lies and deciet they have chosen or been sent down in life. Guns or fist fights are rarely a solution to their problems. They are no different from moths caught in a spider’s web. In The Night Manager, BBC has rebooted an eponymous Le Carre novel giving it a contemporary backdrop against conflicts more recent and ongoing in and around the region where the story unfolds initially. The series looks at the business of war and drives home the fact that greed drives people like no other desire in this world. Lives are collateral damage and death is the actual produce being exchanged here. Governments are ultimately nothing but ordinary people with extraordinary powers and the intentions  of a governement are only as good as the principles that drive the individuals or the lack of it.From corrupt bureaucrats to idealistic intelligence officials, Night Manager has them all. The hero if I may call him that is not led by ideals but a thirst for revenge, is how i read the character.

The Night Manager is fast paced and makes for excellent binge watching on a lazy weekend.The proceedings on screen are quick and not much time is wasted between deaths,betrayals and bondings, pun unintended.For a show that scorched ahead from episode to episode the ending I must admist came across as a bit of a low key affair but I guess that’s how the”bad guys” go down in the real world, if they do at all that is.Olivia Colman who has made a career of playing the working class crimefighting mom plays a very pregnant intelligence officer and is a delight as always.Tom Hollander successfully irritates the hell out of Hiddleston and the viewer in a man Friday role to Laurie’s Roper. Elizabeth Debicki proves that she is not just a very pretty face. If you are looking for some fast thrills and international intrigue, The Night Manager is a perfect watch.Everything about The Night Manager is as British as it gets but the series doesn’t take sides or point fingers in the name of ethnicity or skin color and maybe the makers of a terribly biased and superficial series like Jack Ryan which debuted on Prime recently could take a leaf of out of this Le Caree book adaptation, so to speak.




Ghoul S01 | Netflix : Z meets The Exorcist In A Familiar Landscape.

Ghoul lured me in with it’s trailer. Hot on the heels of Sacred Games, here was an Indian Original that looked interesting and featured a prominent cast member from that other rage of the season Anurag Kashyap – Vikramaditya Motwane production too. Though the series speaks Hindi it is set in a more or less unnamed land – except for a brief historical reference by one of the characters-  and looks nothing like anything that we have come across on Indian screens, the fact that Sacred Games had set the bars high notwithstanding. Adding to the intrigue off-screen is the presence of a non-Hindi speaking writer-director, Patrick Graham at the helm. Maybe that explains the kind of tone and mood that’s alien to shows and films from our part of the world. Ghoul is pitched as a superatural horror series and it is scary, but not because of the horror element.

Costa Gavras’s Z  is as political a movie could get and The Exorcist set the mould in which every other horror movie since has been made. Ghoul has elements of both the classics and their genres in a delicious mix. It presents a dystopia which is not about a dusty, windy, rundown future or a world where machines have taken over, neither is it one where humans have moved to Mars, rather Ghoul leads us into a very real place where the government has taken control of lives and any voice of criticsim and dissent is in danger of being clamped down ferociously. Patrick Graham was researching torture in modern warfare when he hit up on the idea he claims. Now, that must give you an idea. Ghoul even reminded me of The Silence Of The Lambs not necessarily because it had a female officer walking down a dark corridor with prisoners in cells on either side. Radhika Apte seems to be doing at home what Priyanka Chopra is trying away. Manav Kaul transforms into an army officer who’s eons apart from other characters he has recently portrated with ease.One actor to watch out for.

Anurag Kashyap’s first two films never saw the daylight thanks to run-ins with the regulatory authorities, namely CBFC and it later turned into a regular excercise for almost all his productions. So when a giant like Netflix streamed its way onto Indian screens with the kind of creative liberties it bestowed upon talented individuals with whom they joined hands like Kashyap, who has been working the system from within for decades us as an audience were definitely the ones to benefit most. If Kashyap flexed his muscles with Sacred Games, he has gone for the sucker punch with Ghoul. It’s not the demon that’s the scariest in this miniseries, it’s the people in it and the system they represent that leaves you disturbed. If you thought Sacred Games was perfectly timed, Ghoul would leave Rahul Dravid drooling. The release eerily coincided with the crackdown on activists across the country . Kashyap and Co have almost done a Nostradamus I’d say.