Web series Review: Afsos -- Lethargic ludicrous drama

Title: Afsos (Season 1)

Cast: Gulshan Devaiah, Anjali Patil, Heeba Shah, Robin Das, Jeetu Shastri, Ratnabali Bhattacharjee, Ujjwal Chopra, Shyam Kishore, Ashna Vaishnav, Lalit Tiwari, Aakash Dahiya, Vincent

Director: Anubhuti Kashyap

Rating: * *

About an acutely suicidal man who hires a deadly assassin to kill him, this attempted black comedy suspense thriller playing on Amazon Prime, is anything but. Based on the Bengali novel Golper Goru Chaande, this adaptation by Anirban Dasgupta, Dibya Chatterjee and Sourav Ghosh, created by Anirban Dasgupta and Dibya Chatterjee, lacks the biting sarcasm, satire and irony that such a high-concept story line deserves.

The narrative about an unsuccessful, frustrated writer Nakul (Gulshan Devaiah) failing 11 times at ridiculously half-hearted attempts at suicide while leaving several dead in the process, meeting up with his Therapist Shloka (Anjali Patil) who later on doubles-up as his paramour, and eventually deciding on a surefire method to kill himself, is played out in rather straightforward, dull mode.

There’s even a suicide assisting agency run by Maria (Ratnabali Bhattacharjee) and Vikram (Ujjwal Chopra) helping those who ‘want to leave’ (a euphemism). To add complexity to the narrative, there’s divine intervention, a journalist probing the illegal suicide assisting agency and cops investigating the murder of 12 sadhus far away in the snow bound north.

The deadly assassin Upadhyay with a 100% success rate (..or so Maria claims) is played by Heeba Shah with implacable impassivity. Her introductory act is too ridiculous to fathom – she enters an ongoing funeral service at what looks like The Afghan Chruch, Colaba and fires a few rounds into the dead body – in full view of grieving mourners. So much for credibility.

Gulshan Devaiah’s frustrated writer act is neither novel nor effective here. He manages to command empathy for his situation but the tone of the narration is so one note that the drama feels deadpan and undemanding.

The opening sequence of Nakul attempting suicide by lying across a railway track could have been more dramatically fashioned. The lethargic tempo here kills the affect. Krish Makhija’s realistic cinematography and Neel Adhikari’s original background score are the only two aspects that endear in this thankless effort to gain gritty comedic traction.

The narration here is farcical rather than satirical. The story line and performances don’t add-up to anything meaningful and the tempo is so premeditative that it stymies probable effect. Even the so-called surprise twists fail to impact favorably. The eight-episode series is a rather disappointing spiel of unremarkable creativity.

The outlandish nature of the plotting that seeks to delve into life and death issues had a lot of scope but Season 1 fails to expand on that promise. This isn’t a gripping or entertaining series by any yardstick.

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