Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the final two episodes of the Hindi series Escaype Live on Hotstar. And there are a few burning questions that I have. I fail to understand how some publications and reviewers on Youtube went ahead and gave their views on the show last week itself when the show had not completed its duration. My second question is to Hotstar – why did they have to wait an entire week before releasing just 2 episodes which could have easily been released in a single go last week(it would have been understandable if the number of episodes was more like in Ashram). While I am willing to give some benefit of doubt to the latter, the former is just unforgivable. You cannot like or hate a show which is incomplete, I feel it is doing injustice to not only the show but to your viewers as well who love reading/watching your respective reviews. And so I waited an entire week before penning this review. So after the mini rant, is Escaype Live worth your time, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Escaype Live is the story of a Tik-Tok like application which hosts a competition with a prize money almost enticing the contestants to go all out leaving their morals behind. The story is super relevant today in times of social media. As they say, social media can be a boon or a curse depending on the way you use it. Even applications like Tik-Tok which were meant for entertainment soon became a place for mindless videos and at times soft p*rnography and violence too(based on some of the videos which were uploaded on Youtube). There maybe creators who would go to any length just for a handful of views and hence it might even be dangerous. So full marks to the writers for coming up with such a story.
The screenplay is extremely engaging and it keeps you hooked right from the beginning. The one thing which fascinated me was an interesting mix of characters with their varied personalities which provided virtually an entire spectrum of the social media. Whether there is a self proclaimed yet dangerous influencer or a person hiding her real identity or a person using the application as a method of escapism or even parents pushing their children into this dark world – the series has it all. And it makes for a compelling narrative which is filled with interesting twists and turns which will keep you hooked and booked throughout. During its narrative, it treads on a dark path and probably less travelled too which I really enjoyed. Probably digging a little deeper would have really helped even more.
One of my favourite tracks was that of a trans-gender protagonist which was handled with sensitivity and had its heart in the right place. Also the track featuring the kid was terrifying and really dark. The screenplay also touched upon how the executives at the office work and how the top officials of the company resort to unfair means, looking for monetary gains even at the cost of someone’s life.
However, the part where the series falters is at the end which was a little underwhelming and it didn’t quite come together. I am unsure if this had to do due to the lack of continuity on my part given that I watched the finale only after a week but for me it just dipped that little bit. The ending didn’t quite sit right but overall it was a rousing attempt at doing something different. So the writing needs to be applauded here!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are adequate and they manage to do their job although nothing much to shout about. I loved the modern renditions of some of the Blockbuster Hindi songs here, it did go quite well with the narrative. The BGM is good and adds depth to the drama. The production design was quite good here giving the series a vibe of a big budget entertainer. Director Siddharth Kumar Tewary does a fabulous job in holding your attention throughout the series and also exposing the ill-effects of certain applications in what was an eye opener.
The performances are brilliant by the ensemble cast. Aakanksha Singh as Devna shines in an extended cameo as does Breshna Khan. Aditi Govitrikar, Ashwin Mushran, Sharat Saxena, Sanjay Narvekar and Smita Tambe lend great support in their respective roles. Mallika Singh as Shrini oozes of innocence and does a commendable job. Jagjeet Sandhu is a talented performer and he is ruthless as Nandu. Geetika Vidya as Sita is well measured and she gives a gullable vibe due to a stupendous performance. Swastika Mukherjee as Mala is outstanding in a very different role and I feel her character will play a vital part in Season 2. Ritvik Sahore as Nilesh is outstanding and such a natural onscreen. Shweta Tripathi as Sunaina is extremely affable in a very sensitive role and she charms you in every scene. Her co-actor Rohit Chandel had the best written role according to me as Rajkumar. And he is absolutely brilliant in a towering yet sensitive act wherein he is always in control and never goes overboard! Aadya Sharma as Rani is a firecracker and she displays a range of emotions with such ease. Jaaved Jaaferi as Ravi is ruthless and quite good in his part. Waluscha De Sousa as Gia pulls off her role with a lot of panache. Sumedh Mudgalkar as Darkie is eccentric in a deliciously dark character. I loved his energy although it is repulsive and he did a brilliant job. Plabita Borthakur as Hina is a seasoned performer and she goes all out with this wonderful performance of a very layered and conflicted character. And she really looks pretty here! Siddharth as Krishna is well restrained and puts his best foot forward here.
Escaype Live is a deliciously dark show which exposes the underbelly of social media. Available on Hotstar!