Hunter- Tootega Nahi, Todega
It is still a Wednesday but we have a new mid-week release. With that I finished watching the new Hindi series Hunter which is now streaming on Amazon Mini TV. Now quite honestly, the main USP of the series is Suniel Shetty, an actor who has been an integral part of my childhood. In fact there was a scene in the film Phir Hera Pheri wherein Akshay Kumar tells Rajpal Yadav on how he has spent crores on giving a plastic surgery to Shyam(Suniel Shetty) and that his real age is 60 years. And that scene which later did become a meme is now coming true! The man is 61 years old and still looks as dashing as ever!
Suniel Shetty’s OTT debut was Dharavi Bank, a series which in no way did justice to his personality. And then months later, popped the trailer of Hunter and honestly that did seem promising although it was in the same crime genre space. But what the trailer did was promise a fast paced, stylized thriller which would keep you hooked throughout. My only cause of concern was that the series was premiering on the sister OTT of Amazon Prime, which was Amazon Mini TV. Now there have been some well made content on the sister platform of Amazon too but there still hasn’t quite been a breakthrough content. And I was hoping that Hunter would be that content given the big names which were involved in the series. So then does Hunter manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Based on a novel titled ‘The Invisible Woman’, Hunter follows the story of corrupt cop who does have a side gig of searching for missing people, in order to earn a quick buck for his gambling habit. This until one such case turns the tables on him! The story here is decent and definitely thrilling given that it is partly a whodunnit as well. It is again not novel and nothing which you haven’t seen already but it still does promise an entertaining watch. The screenplay standing at 8 episodes of roughly 20 odd to 40 odd minutes each does make for a brisk watch. And quite honestly, the makers have got the pacing of the drama spot on which doesn’t allow you time to ponder on the loopholes and some convenient turns in the screenplay.
The drama does get off to a very wobbly start that made me think that this is another drama that would flatter to deceive. The initial sequence just did seem quite random and it did not quite fall in place. There were severe editing issues in that opening sequence itself that just wasn’t impressive. I would have ideally liked a little bit of world building followed by establishing the characters which would have been rewarding as the drama would progress. But instead here you would find characters randomly appearing onscreen which just resulted in a very wobbly start. It almost did seem like certain events which may have transpired offscreen were left to be assumed as per the viewer’s intelligence which honestly wasn’t the right approach. But things do get better after the introduction of the conflict.
The conflict is introduced very early on in the drama and that did set the ball rolling nicely. I could see that there was some amount of effort put in to make the drama layered although the attempt wasn’t entirely successful. But the pacing of the proceedings did ensure that you are invested in the drama. Another flaw in the series was the handling of multiple subplots or rather parallel tracks that again did feel disjointed to begin with. But to compensate for the same, the twists and turns in the screenplay would definitely keep you invested. Some of the action set pieces are very well integrated in the drama that does make you engrossed in the proceedings.
The second half of the drama does shift gears even further but more importantly there was better control with the execution of the proceedings. There was an added sense of purpose as the stakes were raised following the rise of the body count. And this is where the series scores, and scores well. I did think this was an investigative thriller but it is more of a crime thriller and so the viewers are not expected to play the guessing game, and deliberately so. But the events start getting organized with multiple twists and turns towards the end that does result in a good reveal(although it could have been further delayed till the very end of the series). The final act is satisfactory but interestingly, there is a little buildup at the end to setup things for season 2(with a completely different story which did have hints thrown in here too). So overall, the screenplay might have been wobbly to begin with, but it does get better as the drama progresses resulting in a fun one-time watch.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues range from witty to corny but thankfully the latter is present in minute quantity only. The music is the unsung hero of the series that not only rescues the drama but elevates it to new heights. Introducing rock and grungy renditions of yesteryear’s popular songs was a genius decision and it did result in almost a haunting almosphere that was created, as a result. To top it, the action sequences choregraphed using these songs in the background did add texture to the drama, thereby giving a nice little spin-off of the songs. Even the BGM was outstanding and did full justice to the drama.
The choreography coupled with the colour grading was exceptional and the transitions did give a comics feel to the proceedings. The lighting which did focus on shades of red, blue and purple did add a neo-noir vibe to the proceedings. My only gripe was with the editing which was shoddy and did bring the series down overall. Directors Prince Dhiman and Alok Batra have done a good job although you can make out that the direction was a little rough around the edges. But I was quite invested in the drama and for that the direction does need to be given credit.
The performances are quite decent here although most characters do not have enough depth. Smita Jayakar, Santosh Singh, Enakshi Ganguly and Harssh Singh have their moments to shine. Siddharth Kher as David is very well restrained in a job well done. Pawan Chopra is spectacular here and I enjoyed the ease with which he did perform his scenes without going overboard. Karanvir Sharma as Sajid is decent here and he does have a good presence onscreen. Rahul Dev as Hooda is really good but I did wish his character had a little more screentime. Teena Singh as Ankita is confident and does a fabulous job.
Gargi Sawant as Pallavi and Mihir Ahuja as Sid are pleasant and do a good job here. Barkha Sengupta as Swati is quite good although her screen time was limited. Esha Deol as Divya does a fairly good job here. But it is Suniel Shetty who is outstanding as Vikram. The series was almost mounted to celebrate his stardom and it was just an absolute pleasure to watch him onscreen. He still does pack a punch and impresses with his acting chops as well. I really wish to watch a lot more of him going forward.
The first season of Hunter is a stylized crime thriller with fairly good performances that does make for a good one-time watch. Available on Amazon Mini TV.