Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Hindi series Duranga streaming on Zee5. It is an official adaptation of the Korean show Flower of Evil, something which I haven’t watched and so this review will have zero reference of the original. But one thing being that it is in the serial killer genre and that is something that I relish. Another motivation for me to look forward to the show was Gulshan Devaiah, an actor whom I completely adorn although he isn’t seen onscreen as often as I wish him to. But it has always been a pleasure watching and reviewing his performances over the years. So then does Duranga manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
An official adaptation of the Korean show Flower Of Evil, Duranga follows the story of a cop investigating multiple murders until all clues lead her to her husband. What is the truth? The story is multi-layered here, a term which I usually reserve for the screenplay. I won’t give out any spoilers for those who haven’t watched the original but the story will have your loyalties oscillating frequently, thereby keeping you at the edge of your seat throughout. The screenplay standing at 9 episodes of roughly 30 odd minutes is a brisk watch although I did feel that the season was an episode too long here. This is felt especially towards the end of the series, something that I will get to in this section.
Now when you walk into the drama, most of the times you do have a fair inkling about it. And so the onus is on the writers to time the premise perfectly in order to suck the users into the drama. And the good news is that the writers do exactly that. After a quick introduction of the main players, the audience is thrown right in the middle of a murder investigation, something which instantly catches eyeballs.
In a serial killer film or series, the meat lies in how well the audience is kept engaged. And the engagement levels are quite high here as a twist in the initial part of the series takes you by surprise. But the twists keep on coming through, something that I was weary off considering that the promotions did lead the audience in a certain direction. So I was pleasantly surprised and eager to discover what happens next. There are a series of cleverly edited flashbacks which often do not paint the exact picture, yet they make you curious on the mystery element.
There is a subplot involving a love story which is brief but it doesn’t quite connect. The good part is that the focus is always on the investigation which make the proceedings engaging and engrossing where your loyalties towards the protagonist always sways often. The thing which felt obvious in its promotions turned out to be not so obvious. The series just lags slightly towards the end where I did feel that the writers were going around in circles. But the final twist sets up the drama perfectly for the second season. Overall, the writing does keep you engaged and enthralled throughout.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are well restrained and they leave an impact for sure. The BGM is good which always keeps you on your toes. The cinematography and editing are pretty good too. The director’s chair is shared by two individuals – Pradeep Sarkar and Aijaz Khan and the direction is terrific here. Both of them manage to maintain a grip on the narrative right throughout which only momentarily loosens towards the back end of the series. But overall, it was a job well done.
The performances are spectacular here. I will be leaving out one name in particular as I do see it as a spoiler. But that actor will play a major part in season 2 and I am really looking forward to that. Meenal Kapoor as Teesta has her moments to shine as does Zakir Hussain. Tanuka Laghate as Neelam is spectacular and she does an amazing job. Kiran Srinivas as Nikhil and Sparsh Walia as Laksh are both outstanding. Rajesh Khattar as Mr. Patel and Divya Seth Shah as Anupriya both do have an element of mystery surrounding them and the two veterans are outstanding here. Vitthal Patil as Victor is pretty good. Barkha Bisht as Prachi is well restrained in a terrific little role. I had first watched Abhijeet Khandkekar in the Marathi film Dharmaveer. But it is in Duranga where I have truely discovered him as a performer. As Vikas, he is outstanding and such a natural performer. I really enjoyed his unusual canaraderie with Gulshan and the man has such a terrific screen presence which blew me away. Drashti Dhami as Ira delivers a dignified performance which is layered and definitely hits home. And it is Gulshan Devaiah(I will conceal his character name here) is absolutely outstanding here. His blank stares with a poker face will send an instant shiver down your spine. His performance is intimidating and something that will keep you guessing. This is a masterful performance by an actor that I wish to see often(Gulshan are you listening!).
Duranga is a thoroughly engaging thriller with solid performance which will keep you guessing till the very end. Available on Zee5.