Sultan Of Delhi Review: Tahir Raj Bhasin, Anjumm Sharma, Anupriya Goenka Redeem A Disappointing Period Drama

Sultan Of Delhi Review: Tahir Raj Bhasin, Anjumm Sharma, Anupriya Goenka Redeem A Disappointing Period Drama

Given the shiny Impalas and Cadillacs on display, you only wish Sultan Of Delhi boasted of a little more sheen. Sadly, this one falls to dust

Vijayalakshmi NarayananUpdated: Friday, October 13, 2023, 11:17 AM IST
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Director: Milan Luthria and Suparn S Varma

Cast: Tahir Raj Bhasin, Mouni Roy, Anjumm Sharma, Anupriya Goenka, Nishant Dahiya, Mehreen Pirzada, Harleen Sethi, Vinay Pathak

Where: Streaming now on Disney+Hotstar

Rating: 2 stars

Despite sourcing its plot from Arnab Ray’s 2016 book by the same name, Sultan Of Delhi, helmed by showrunners Milan Luthria and Suparn S Varma is a colossal letdown, as much as it pains the writer to say so. The biggest hindrance that lies in coming to empathise with the subject or its characters is the lack of arc and its glaring predictability.

As viewers, it’s quite fascinating to see an entire world built around the politics and powerplay that rules and dictates the National capital. But the progression of the storyline is tried and tested to such an extent, anyone who has remotely watched two films in the genre, could guess the show’s beats.

Beginning in 1947, at the time of the Partition, young Arjun Bhatia’s seemingly perfect family life is turned upside down when he and his father have to flee from their palatial home in newly formed Pakistan, to India. Much of his family including his mother and sister are killed in the riots that break out. Once they reach Delhi, each day since then, is a battle for survival. The instinct to always survive and thrive is what eventually drives Arjun (Tahir Raj Bhasin) to want to rule over the city, someday. He befriends Nilendu aka Bangali (Anjumm Sharma) who chooses to stand beside him through thick and thin. Together, the two carry out every thinkable illegal activity under the guidance of their master Jagan seth (Vinay Pathak). The only thorn who stands in their way is Rajender Pratap Singh (Nishant Dahiya), a power-hungry aristocrat and Jagan seth’s associate, who clearly is still dealing with his daddy issues. Much of his moves are dictated by the scheming and foxy Shankari Devi (Anupriya Goenka). The lust for power will drive these men to immeasurable lengths.

To give credit where it is due, the production design and the costumes are period appropriate. You are easily transported to Delhi from the 1960s. But that’s about it. Leaving that singular technical aspect aside, everything else falls flat. The screenplay is simply put for the lack of a better word, patchy. Equally puzzling is the treatment of the character arcs reserved for the women. While Anupriya particularly stands out as Shankari Devi, we are never allowed a chance to understand her motives or intent. Mouni Roy who gets the top-billed credits in the cast, makes an appearance as Nayantara, way much later in the show. Mehreen Pirzada as Sanjana gets a sweet, girl-next-door introduction, only to be reduced to a suffering wife, eventually. But, the worst fate falls upon Harleen Sethi’s Preeti. Her sudden disappearance and reappearance on the show is baffling to say the least. 

Coming to the men, Vinay and Nishant try earnestly, but on most occasions, they are clearly posturing. It’s only left to Tahir and Anjumm who make a meal out of their respective parts. It’s always a joy to watch Tahir perform, because the actor is gifted with incredible depth. As Arjun, it’s delightful to watch him turn emotional and cold at turns. Similarly, Anjumm is unwavering in his loyalty towards his friend, despite a moment’s doubt getting the better of him.

Given the shiny Impalas and Cadillacs on display, you only wish Sultan Of Delhi boasted of a little more sheen. Sadly, this one falls to dust. 

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