Dahan: Raakan Ka Rahasya
Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Hindi series Dahan which is streaming on Hotstar. And this review took a while coming as the series is just so long(more on it in this review). But this was a series that I was personally awaiting keenly just from the point of view of its concept. I feel the folklores and legends have a genre in itself which has not yet been explored to its full potential. And so a modern spin to these folklores can lead to some of the most interesting stories.
We were briefly introduced to it in the magnificent film Tumbbad where a gripping folklore was weaved into a tremendous atmospheric horror. On the similar lines, the new show on Hotstar promised a similar spark which made me want to watch it instantly. And I have finally finished watching Dahan which is streaming on Hotstar, is it worth your time….lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Set in a mysterious village in Rajasthan, Dahan follows the story of the villagers believing a folklore after some strange occurences take place in their village following a mining excavation. What is the mystery behind it? The story at its concept level is an absolute winner with the right ingredients of horror and folklore which would potentially have the audiences lapping for attention. Sadly, the screenplay just makes a hash of things. Standing at 9 episodes of almost 50 odd minutes each(some episodes are 45 minutes and above), it was a daunting watch considering the length of the show. I was skeptical about the length where a part of me did tell me that the show will lag at a few places. And all my fears did come true in this extremely stretched screenplay.
Firstly, let me put it out there – this show is a slow burn and requires patience to sit through. Now I do not have any problem with it being a slow burn. But this is provided the show is eventful. This sort of a concept does require a slight sense of urgency to truly hit home with the audience. The reason being, the audience will enter the show with an anticipation of a high concept horror. But if the narrative is stretched their attention span will definitely go down. So even in a few good scenes, the focus of the viewer will just not be there!
The drama opens on a good note with a thrilling opening sequence which does set the ball rolling in what was a rollicking start. The entire world building was pretty interesting and mysterious with the right kind of characters thrown in the mix. The issue was that the world building just did not stop. I can understand where the makers were coming from – they wished to keep the mystery intact right till the end. But in process of doing so, the drama is slowed down at a snail’s pace making large portions of it being uneventful. A tighter screenplay would gave got to the point faster which I feel this subject deserved.
There are some interesting twists and turns but they again lacked solid execution. I feel the thrill of a horror was largely missing although the makers did get the atmospherics on point. Another issue is the overuse of multiple subplots as opposed to a focused narration. By doing so, the drama begins to run in multiple directions thereby getting out of hand. The drama could have easily trimmed out atleast 2 to 3 episodes which would then have made a compelling watch!
The final act does hold a twist which was good despite it being predictable. But again its execution was off making it slightly cliched. So while I did enjoy the concepts and the folklore, the end conclusion was also a tad underwhelming. In other words, a tighter screenplay was the need of the hour in what turns out to be a missed opportunity.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational and quite well penned. The BGM is quite decent and integrated well in the drama. The cinematography and VFX(considering its low budget) are brilliant and the unsung heroes of the series. The editing though is a bit of a question mark. To give you a perspective, there are several scenes wherein the tension is nicely builtup but instead of peaking there is a cut to a separate scene in a separare subplot which dilutes the impact. While the cuts are sharp, the timing of it was an issue. Directors Vikranth Pawar and Jai Sharma did have a good source material in their hands. But their execution needed to be sharper. They aren’t able to justify it thereby making the drama largely uneventful for most of its duration.
The performances save the say to an extent. Girish Sharma is excellent despite a one-scene cameo as The TC. There is a certain sense of calmness to him here which was refreshing. Jaimini Pathak as Moria ithe shrewd businessman is perfectly cast. Pankaj Sharma as Sachet and Bhumika Dube as Janaki are both pretty good. Ankur Nayyar as Sandeep has a pleasant presence onscreen in a job done well. Raijesh Tailang as Parimal has his moments to shine as does Hima Singh as Renu. Saurabh Shukla is impressive as Pramukh although his character seemed very confused. Mukesh Tiwari as Bhairon is very impressive. Lehar Khan as Rani is excellent. The find of the series for me is Rohan Joshi who is brilliant as Anay. I have seen him in certain other roles but this was a defining role and he does a swell job here. Tisca Chopra as Avani is wonderful to watch in a well restrained performance. But a better screenplay was needed to add even more value to their performance.
Dahan is a good concept marred by an ordinary screenplay and execution, making it a missed opportunity. Available on Hotstar.