1. Mirzapur Season 1 ( Pakaoo Rating:  9/10) http://pakaoo.in/movie/mirzapur-season-1/

Contextual Genre: Crime, Hindi Heartland, Ganglord, Guns, Ambition, Lust.

Platform: Amazon Prime

Mirzapur – A Crime Web Series in league of its own.

Mirzapur Season 1 is that web series, which through its edge of the seat story-telling and superlative performances by its cast, has stood out as the best crime series made so far ( As on Dec 31, 2019). The series made the careers of some very talented artists like Pankaj Tripathi, Ali Zafar, Divyendu Sharma, Shweta Tripathi, Rasika Dugal, Shriya Pilgaonkar and many more.

Each character has been etched to personify one big human emotion – Pankaj Tripathi ( Patriarch responsibility), Shweta tripathi ( Morals), Ali Zafar and Vikrant Massey ( Ambition ), Divyendu Sharma (Greed), Rasika Dugal ( Lust). There is a lot of guns and gore in the action sequences which seem to be justified well in the story arc.

The dialogues are both intriguing, even comic at times, bringing out the Hindi Heartland feel of the entire series. They leave a lasting impression on the viewer with their sheer delivery and surprising connect.

But at the end of the day, in a story which managed to make so many heroes , it is really the story, which is the real hero! And that is no small feat. 9/10 from Pakaoo.

2. Mulk (Pakaoo Rating: 8.5/10)   http://pakaoo.in/movie/mulk/

Contextual Genre: Xenophobia, Social Prejudice, Racism, Parental Regrets, Family

Platform: Zee5

कैसे साबित करेंगे की आप एक सच्चे मुस्लमान हैंhttp://pakaoo.in/mulk/?

This is not a Web Movie really, it did have a theatre release, but the issue discussed in Mulk, the film is very relevant in today’s times and must be seen. Unstated hush hush discussions that plague the social dialogue regarding a certain Minority in India , are unabashedly brought to the fore in this film.

As India resists the Citizenship Amendment Actand impending National Register of Citizens ( NRC), questions like Who is/should be an Indian Citizen gain importance. Even in a certain Minority Group, issues like, “Are all families of that minority associated with negativity” also arise and deserve answers.

It may not be our place to review or opine on such a sensitive topic of our secular nation. But in spirit of professional duty to guide our Platform Visitors the right to choose their next watch, we are merely providing a transcript of Rishi Kapoor’s answer to the question (In Court when accused of being a terrorist himself):

कैसे साबित करेंगे की आप एक सच्चे मुस्लमान हैं?

जब क़ुरान पढ़ा था तो पता चला था की क़यामत के दिन अल्लाह मुझसे यह सवाल पूछेगा की मैं एक अच्छा मुस्लमान था की नहीं। और यह फैसला करेगा , सिर्फ वो। कोशिश तो पूरी ककरी थी की एक अच्छा मुस्लमान बन सकूं,पर कहीं गलतियां रह जाती हैं।

जो कुछ भी बना इस ज़िन्दगी में , इस मुल्क ने बनाया। अब्दुल हमी से भी मुतासिर हुआ , गाँधी से भी और मदर टेरेसा से भी। मुस्लमान होने के फायदे भी हुए इस मुल्क में, और कभी कभी शक की नज़र से भी देखा गया। पर दफ़न उसी कब्रस्तान में होना है, जो मेरे घर से २०० मीटर दूऱ है। पब्लिक प्रोसिक्यूटर साहब ने कहा की वो मुसलमानो का सम्मान करते हैं और उनका स्वागत करते हैं। मेरे घर में मेरा स्वागत करने का हक़ उनको किसने दिया? यह मेरा भी उतना ही घर है जितना की आपका। अगर आपको शक है मेरी वफादारी पर, तो जाइए आप पता कीजिये की क्यों शक है आपको। अगर आपको फ़र्क़ नहीं करना आता, शाहिद में और मुराद अली में, तो आप पता कीजिये की ऐसा क्यों है? और अगर आप मेरी दाढ़ी और बिन लादेन की दाढ़ी में फ़र्क़ नहीं कर पा रहे हैं, तो भी मुझे पूरा हक़ है अपनी सुन्नत निभाने का। गले लगाके सवाल पूछियेगा न ,तो कलेजा निकाल के हाथ में रख दूंगा। ऊँगली उठाके पूछियेगा न, तो याद रखियेगा, की मेरी जवाबदारी आपसे नहीं है, अपने ईमान से है। अपने मुल्क से है।

3. Leila (Pakaoo Rating : 8.5/10)  http://pakaoo.in/movie/leila/

Contextual Genre: Human Rights, Ostracism, Cult, Inter-Faith Marriage, Politics

Platform: Netflix

Leila – A world gone wrong.

Try starting to watch this series without first reading a summary or review. It will make you wonder which world is the character Shalini (Huma Qureshi) actually living in?

15-20 minutes in the first episode will have you realise the abject hopelessness of character’s situation – the societal ostracism, ingrained casteism, inter-faith marriages and the jealousies propagated by the cult.

The sadness darkens when the character tries to obtain freedom through telling on fellow women who dared to challenge the questionable practices of the cult. And then a ray of light awakens, when Shalini realises that her inner conscience is still alive somewhere, and she cannot gas chamber anyone for her freedom, no matter how hard the situation.

The plot evolves into her journey to escape, looking for her daughter ‘Leila’. Will she be able to meet her?

4. Rangbaaz Phir Se ( Pakaoo Rating 8/10)   : http://pakaoo.in/movie/rangbaaz-phirse/

Contextual Genre: Crime, Hindi Heartland, Gang War, Politics, Power Play, Action

Platform: Zee5

Real Gangster Inspired Crime Action Series Delivers On The One Up-Manship Promise.

Criminals are not born, they are a product of their circumstances. Rangbaaz Phirse , though disconnected with Series 1 in terms of story, does carry forward the basic theme.

The story is set in Rajasthan and care has been taken to reflect the local dialect and ethos in modern times. Jimmy Shergill in his restrained avtar of an IPS aspirant turned gang lord, is a treat to watch as usual.

Sushant Singh, his accomplice and loyal friend is at best, repetitive in his performance. But his death is the pivot that twists the entire series Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub is very promising as a cunning IPS Officer, waiting to strike at the right time, loyalties be damned.  Sharad Kelkar ,as the cold-heartless insecure rival gangster is believable.

Gul Panag’s character Anupriya is a surprising fit , in what would have been an out of place characterization, and she carries off the shades of an educated trader, turned gangster accomplice rather well.

Amarpal Singh’s family sequences seem lacking depth, and esp. in them, background music seems force. Except family sequences, the background Music is loud and aims to lend a large than life feel to the sequences. Surprisingly, even Amarpal’s transformative scene from an aspiring Officer to a Gangster ( Shown burning certificates and books in his courtyard with wife in backdrop), does not really stir emotions. 

In what seems, was meant to give the Rangbaaz Phir Se Team a larger than life avtar, the action sequences are very basic – guns and gore.  Gul Panag’s entry into the series (Ep 3) does lift the drift, and a viewer is made to wonder, whether the story will now lift away from an endless gang war saga or not.  But it does, and the gang war adds an overt political drama to itself. If one survives the gang war predictability and story buildup of first 2 episodes, the story does get interesting thereafter!

All together, Rangbaaz can be watched for Jimmy and Gul’s restrained acting in a  “Pursuit of Power” Hindi Heartland Web series in Politics. Ayyub is a great highlight which will be remembered in Rangbaaz Phirse. The surprise entry of characters and plot unfolding is mark of a good story build up, albeit slowly.

Pakaoo would have given 9/10 to this Crime Series, barring the drag of the first 2 episodes.

5. Sacred Games 2 (Pakaoo Rating: 7.5/10)   http://pakaoo.in/movie/sacred-games-2/

Contextual Genre: Action, Drama, Cult Following, Terrorism

Platform: Netflix

The Evil In One Man’s Thought Can Bring The World To A Doom.

Belief can be influenced, as well as mis-guided. And it can be lethal when it is absolute. Sacred Games Season 2 unleashes what a single human’s thought process, when gone awry, can affect so many individuals around him.

The good side being, it also takes one strong man, in Sacred Games 2, Gaitonde , to question the wrong from the right. Temporarily influenced by Guruji’s evil beliefs, Gaitonde gets a conscience call and alerts authorities of what the cult is upto, but looses himself to the games of the world in which he is himself caught in.

The series boasts of some very strong performances by Pankaj Tripathi, Kalki Koechlin, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Saif Ali Khan. Each character is beautifully etched with precision of craftmanship and some great story telling. A thumbs up to Dialogues as well as their delivery. Thankfully, unlike Season 1 , the usage of unnecessary titilation is reduced.

All together Sacred Games Season 2 is an Edge of the Seat Thriller, which keeps the viewer glued right till the very end.

6. Line of Descent ( Pakaoo Rating: 7.5/10)    http://pakaoo.in/movie/line-of-descent/

Contextual Genre: Family Inheritance, Crime, Parental Regrets, Sibling Rivalry

Platform: Zee5

http://pakaoo.in/line-of-descent-review/A Compelling Story Of Crime And Its Eventual Doom, Told Through The Eyes Of A Land Grab Mafia Family.

Crime never pays. Even if for a short while it may lead to a comfortable living, it comes back to force the criminal to lead a life of constant fear, regrets and hard choices in long term.

Line of Descent is a Crime story told from the point of view of Family lineage. Sibling Hatred over inheritance, patriarch preference for elder sibling to responsibly lead the family after him, dark underbelly of International Arms Trade, sex for favors, and an honest cop are some of the plots that unfold and come together to tell a compelling story.

The formidable, rather unusual ensemble of star-cast and their superior acting skills is a treat to watch. Ronit Roy, Brendon Fraser, Abhay Deol, all carry their respective roles very well. Worth a special mention is Neeraj Kabi’s performance, who stands out as the jealous middle brother, bad mouthed, misguided notion of self, out for getting his inheritance and more, at whatever cost.   The plot is slick and unfolds at a steady pace, leaving the viewer engaged and hungry . Never a dull moment in this Film. If you like watching Crime Genre, Line of Descent is a great value for your time.  

7. The Family Man  ( Pakaoo Rating: 8/10)   http://pakaoo.in/movie/the-family-man/

Contextual Genre: Terrorism, Family, Investigation, Infidelity, Kashmir

The Mundane And Predictable, Made Interesting!

What could have been yet another familiar story on terrorism and failed plots, has been rendered a freshness of well….a family twist. While there is are predicable elements of a Terror Mastermind, an Intelligence Unit working to save the world and all that, there are certain very interesting parallel tracks that keep the viewer glued.

The Family Man – Season 1 (Available in Hindi, English, Telugu & Tamil)

The ambitions of a wife, interplay of a middle-class Indian Family, upbringing of children, infidelity, low pay check and struggles of a regular middle class Man, all have been tackled very realistically.

Manoj Bajpai, the name says it all, is effortless and enchants with his acting. The real pack out of the blue, is Priyamvani, his wife, who impresses with her effective portrayal of a mother, a career woman and a cheating partner.

8. Delhi Crime (Pakaoo Rating 8/10)

Contextual Genre: Crime, Rape, Police Investigation

Platform: Netflix

9.The Bard of Blood  ( Pakaoo Rating: 7/10)   http://pakaoo.in/movie/bard-of-blood/

Contextual Genre: Prisoners of War, Terrorism, Taliban, Spy, Intelligence Agency, Rebel, Regrets 

Platform: Netflix

समय का मारा, लेकिन देश प्रेम का बेचारा – कबीर आनंद

इस वेब सीरीज की कहानी ये है कि भारत के कुछ सीक्रेट एजेंट्स जो तालिबानियों कि गिरफ्त में हैं उनको बचाने के लिए IIW (Indian Intelligence Wing) इंडिया के चीफ (रजित कपूर) अपने पुराने और बेस्ट एजेंट को बलूचिस्तान उन एजेंट्स की जान बचाना चाहते हैं. लेकिन ऐसे में इस पुराने एजेंट कबीर आनंद (इमरान हाशमी) को उसका अतीत इस मिशन के बीच में याद आता जा रहा है. अब इसी सवाल के साथ शुरु होती है ये कहानी कि क्या कबीर मिशन पर जा पाता है और अगर वो जा पाता हैं तो क्या वो अपने मिशन में कामयाब हो पाता? इन्हीं सवालों के साथ कबीर के रास्ते में इतने मुश्किलों के पहाड़ आ खड़े होते हैं, जिन्हें उसे खुद पार करना होता है.

सीरीज में दमदार एक्टर्स की शानदार परफॉरर्मेंस

इस सीरीज की सबसे बड़ी ताकत है एक्टर्स की परफॉरमेंस जो बहुत ही दमदार हैं सीरीज में दिखाए गए किरदार बहुत स्ट्रांग हैं. चाहे वो कबीर आनंद (इमरान हाशमी) हो, ईशा खन्ना (सोभिता धूलिपाला), वीर (विनीत कुमार सिंह) या फिर कीर्ति कुल्हारी(ज़न्नत मर्री) या शहजाद (जयदीप अहलावत) या निहार (अमित बिमरोट). इमरान के साथ साथ सभी एक्टर्स की परफॉरमेंस बेमिसाल है. चाहे वो ब्यूरो चीफ हो या BAF के चीफ नुशरत या फिर तालिबान के मुखिया और बंदी बने एजेंट्स. इस वेब सीरीज में बहुत सारे को-एक्टर्स हैं और उन सभी ने अपने किरदार को बहुत ही बखुबी से निभाया है.

कहानी की शुरुआत

इस सीरीज में कहानी पहले ही एपिसोड से साफ हो जाती है कि क्या होगा लेकिन आपको सोचने का एक बड़ा कारण भी मिल जाता है आगे कबीर कैसे बढेगा क्योंकी देशभक्त जो ठहरें. सीरीज आपको अपने साथ पहले एपिसोड से ही जोड़ लेती है. एक फेल हुए मिशन के सदमे और डर के साये में जी रहे कबीर आनंद की जिंदगी को आप जैसे-जैसे अपने स्क्रीन पर देखते हैं वैसे-वैसे उससे और ज्यादा जुड़ने का रौमांच आ जाता हैं.

ऐसे हमें उसकी परेशानियां आपको अपनी लगती हैं और आप मिशन को हर हाल में पूरा होता देखना चाहते हैं. हालांकि इस सीरीज में बहुत से ऐसे पल आते हैं जो आपको बॉलीवुड की उन देशभक्ति वाली फिल्मों की याद दिलाती हैं. कुछ सीन्स और सीक्वेंस में थकान महसुस होती हैं. लेकिन कबीर के शुरू से एक टीम को लेकर अकेला चला आना और टीम में हर इंसान कबीर के ऑर्डर्स फॉलो करना आपको इस कहानी से जोड़े रखता है

इस सीरीज में लिमिटेड डायलॉगबाजी के साथ भरपूर एक्शन है. ब्लास्ट, गोलियां चलना, मारधाड़ और खून खराबा आपको इस सीरीज में आराम से मिलेगा. इस सीरीज में आपको ट्विस्ट एंड टर्न्स, एजेंट्स की चलाकी देखने में आपको मजा आएगा. 

10. Sacred Games Season 1 : Pakaoo rating: 7/10  http://pakaoo.in/movie/sacred-games-season-1/

Contextual Genre: Crime, Gangster, Police, Chase, Terror, Mysterious Past

Platform: Netflix

The First Crime Indian Original From Netflix. That Which They Set Out To Do, They Achieved, And How!

Sacred Games Season 1 is a well-etched out story based on a novel by Vikram Chandra. Compelling characterization esp. that of Ganesh Gaitonde ( Nawazuddin Siddiqui) will keep you enamored with the aura of a gangster, wanted, and on run.

The dilemna that Sartaj Singh ( Saif Ali Khan) goes through, is believable. His knawing past, comes through slowly, and at first, what seems to be a police gangster chase story, slowly transforms into a far deeper Terror Plot and ultimate forces spelling doomsday for a Mumbai.

Radhika Apte is compelling in her character as always, but seems wasted for the level of talent she represents.

The season 1 lends a wonderful prequel to the Season 2, where the real plot unfolds.

The Season 1 will be always remembered for its powerful, almost glamorous characterization, esp that of “Ganesh Gaitonde” through his dialogue delivery and screenplay.

The Season1 could have easily made the leagues of 8/10 on Pakaoo. The only negative is the raw and unnecessary sex scenes thrown in rather aplenty, and for the same, the Series Season 1 gets a 7 Rating on Pakaoo.

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