Onto the next release of this massive weekend and before I get to the twin Hindi theatrical releases, I decided to knock one off from the OTT arena. With that, I finished watching the new Hindi series, the first season of Commando which is now streaming on Hotstar. Everytime there is a national holiday around the corner, the content related to nationalism makes its way to the OTT platform. I feel that while this is fine, firstly it shouldn’t just be restricted to these days, and secondly the content should truly be heartfelt as opposed to giving way to mindless jingoism. And that is something that I was worried about with Commando whose trailer was just trash in the name of nationalism. The point here wasn’t the nationalism angle but the pedigree of the makers to encash on that sentiment atleast from what I could make out from its trailer. With a clout of skepticism, I ventured into the show Commando, does it manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
The first season of Commando follows the story of a covert operation underway in our neighbouring country to extract an agent who is captured by the enemy. Would the protagonist heading the mission succeed? You bet! The story here is the same old story recycled and repackaged in the name of entertainment. The beauty of the Commando film franchise(by the same makers) was that they did have some solid stories to tell with some daredevil action sequences. And while I shall come to the latter in a bit, the story here is so generic and bland that I was surprised on how it was greenlit by the OTT platform. The screenplay standing at just 4 episodes ranging from 30 odd to 40 odd minutes did seem like a feature film essentially which is cut into a webseries. However, the screenplay is an absolute yawn-fest with no real high points in it.
If anyone cares and is still around to read further, the drama opens with an army personnel from the neighbouring country planning a sort of a bio-warfare with India. To show how dangerous the plan is, he performs an experiment on a prisoner of war and the results are for all to see. But it was from the first reel itself, with the BGM playing out loudly even as the antagonist was just walking, did I know that this series is in trouble. I sat hoping that things would improve but the series continued to get random and unintentionally funny. You are introduced to the protagonist who is standing shirtless with his back to the camera on the day of his engagement, while talking about a new mission at hand. Why shirtless though? The writing is so weak that that mission is successful after a minor action sequence which made me question on who the protagonist is – is he an army personnel, a commando, a para-trooper, a stuntman? All of the above! Again how, as these are different skillsets!
The proceedings take a nosedive after an agent is captured forcing our superhero to get across the border and save the day. And these events are so random that we don’t even get to see on how he crossed the border, what was the planning involved? Why did he suddenly see a group of children being held hostage? How did his associate randomly turn up to save him? Why am I writing this review? After a while, I decided to not question the proceedings are just go with the flow. And that made things even worse. There was unnecessary comedy thrown in at random places that made me wonder on whether the protagonist was on a holiday with his associate. At this point, my headache became insufferable!
Are there any positives in the drama at all? The answer to it is a surprising ‘Yes’! The final episode does account for some tense moments when the actual escape is being executed. Those 20 minutes make for some of the best scenes of the series. Yet, the roadblock that follows in the form of the capture again derails its momentum. This, while the members of the opposition are shown as a bunch of dimwits trying to outsmart the protagonist through their weird techniques. What baffled me even more was on how the story remained incomplete with a predictable twist at the end that setup things for season 2. Why not kill the antagonist directly when you had a chance instead of conveniently allowing him to go scot free? Isn’t this an insult to the armed forces too? Overall, the screenplay is a gigantic ball of d*gs**t that deserves to be skipped.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are filled with needless jargons of chest thumping nationalism when clearly the writing doesn’t evoke any such sentiments. And for the millionth time can we get over with words like Janaab from the drama please? Nobody talks like that in today’s day and age. The BGM is completely off and doesn’t sync well with the drama in hand. The cinematography is good capturing some aerial shots well. The action sequences impress in parts particularly when there aren’t any jumpcuts. Director Vipul Amrutlal Shah who was once known for gems like Aankhein and Namaste London, does seem to be stuck in the early 2000s with his execution. This was an absolute sub-standard piece of direction that completely misses the mark.
The performances are a mixed bag here. Manini Chadha as Tina and Sophie Chaudhry are decent but have little to do here. Tigmanshu Dhulia as Bakshi is a little inconsistent. While he is on point for most parts, the final scene showcasing him rejoicing was completely off the characterization. Adah Sharma as Bhavna Reddy(a spin-off of her character in the Commando film series) does contribute well with her comedy individually speaking, but honestly that wasn’t the tone of the drama here. Mukesh Chhabra as Abbas was a bit of a hit and a miss too. Only Vaibhav Tatwawadi as Kshitij and Amit Sial as Jaffer stay true to their characters. And they are quite good to watch. Prem Parija as Virat needs to work on his expressions here. Yes, he impresses in action sequences but his acting needs improvement. I am going easy on him considering that this is his first outing but there is a huge scope for improvement.
The first season of Commando is quite possibly the worst series of the year so far, a drama that made me go, ‘Jaldi Khatam Ho, Kal Subah Panvel Nikalna Hai'(Come on, get it done with already, need to go to Panvel tomorrow morning). Available on Hotstar.