best seller Review (courtesy: Shrutzhaasan)

A voice on the audio track, referring to a car set on fire on purpose, puts it succinctly: when it works, it’s magic; if not, it’s a disaster. A few episodes in, it’s easy to guess what best sellerScreenwriting duo Althea Kaushal and Anvita Dutt’s second web series of the week (the other is mithyaalso about authorship and plagiarism).

The eight-episode show, streaming on Amazon Prime Video, is devoid of magic, though it does come with a bag full of tricks. The fault lies mainly with the book from which it was adapted – that of Ravi Subramanian The bestseller She wrote. It weaves a far-fetched, flimsy mystery about a writer who, without your permission, uses a “real-life” story to fuel a book. The web series that the story is embedded in is rudimentary, if not downright see-through.

best sellerdirected by Mukul Abhyankar, is set in the world of publishing and commercials, but neither the words nor the images that the show strings together in its eight chapters – each segment ending with one character or another saying the number in turn – get rid of bumps and jump off.

The bizarre plot is based on a Hindi bestseller praised for its originality, although its title is borrowed from a Sant Kabir couplet about the pitfalls that await the uninitiated visitor in Kashi. The success of the book brings the author a lot of money and countless fans. Even as the acclaimed author struggles to repeat that enviable high, it turns out there are still people willing to risk their lives for him.

One is the reserved Meetu Mathur (Shruti Haasan), a girl from a small, ancient holy city who has fled her fate. She aspires to be a writer and idolizes Tahir Wazir (Arjan Bajwa). The latter meets Meetu at a cafe where she works. Three scars on her wrist catch the best-selling author’s attention. Behind every wound, the girl reveals, is a substantive story that Tahir instinctively discovers could help him end his extended dry spell.

Tahir hires Meetu as his assistant. He intends to pass off her ideas as his own and write a sequel to his career-defining second book, set in the very part of the world the girl ran away from to seek her fortune in Mumbai.

At the same time, the acclaimed writer’s wife, Mayanka Kapoor (Gauahar Khan), a high-flying commercials filmmaker who has far more control than her grumpy husband, hires a geeky and gifted intern, Parth Acharya (Satyajeet Dubey), a man who can Gone with technical devices. As Tahir digs into Meetu’s tumultuous past, Mayanka continues on her high-flying, award-winning path.

Parth, the enthusiastic newcomer, has a plan up his sleeve. He takes on the guise of a vicious troll determined to bring Tahir to earth. On a social media network called Tweaker, he relentlessly lures Tahir, an acclaimed writer previously only used to flattery.

Meetu is brutally attacked and a video of the shocking incident is emailed to Tahir, allegedly by a fan-turned-enemy, to warn him of what lies ahead. The author turns to the police for help. Enter Mithun Chakraborty in the guise of jaded CID officer Lokesh Pramanik, who will be retiring in three weeks.

The older cop has nothing to lose – later in the series we learn how much he sacrificed on duty. He throws himself headlong into the case with young sub-inspector Urmila Ranade (Sonalee Kulkarni). Threats to Tahir are increasing. Police investigators are stepping up efforts to find the man behind the threatening messages.

So what is real best seller – a revenge drama, a story about one man’s overarching ambition, a story about a cybercriminal with an agenda, a police procedural, or all rolled into one? With a little bit of everything thrown into the cauldron, the series is a total mess that even the energetic actors in the cast can’t salvage.

The script gives Shruti Haasan plenty of room to develop the character and capture a sharp personality shift. The same goes for Satyajeet Dubey. Neither is wrong, but the two actors have a hard time picking themselves up from the barren, tangled morass that the show is sinking into.

Playing no less important characters, Gauahar Khan and Arjan Bajwa also suffer the consequences of narrative contradictions. The angularities of the advertiser and the writer and the rapport, or rather the lack of it, between the two represent important elements of the plot, but while the actors do their best, these don’t develop into something that could strengthen the series.

Succeed in holding Mithun Chakraborty best seller cooking? Not quite. The aging policeman has a story to tell, but the details brought forth in building the character’s essential outlines are far too sketchy and haphazard to add up to form a coherent whole.

But more than the simple characterizations, what undermines best seller are the holes that riddle the mystery story. In fact, there is little mystery about the show because one of the prime suspects is always hidden in plain sight and does nothing to leave the audience in the dark.

As a clear reflection of the times we live in, best seller hesitates to name Varanasi. The place plays a significant role in the story but has a fictional name. It’s easy to see why. The fear of a backlash from the conservative side dominates the show. A timid manner, as shown here, does not do justice to the spirit of the iconoclastic mystic repeatedly invoked in bestseller.

Don’t worry, Mussoorie, Kanatal, and Neemrana make it into the storyline as where they really are on the map. They keep their names. Poor old Mussoorie! It doesn’t count enough to offend anyone, even though it may be shown in ‘bad light’.

Although the number of corpses in Bestseller is not insignificant and there is much talk of violence, no one is actually murdered in cold blood. At least two of the key characters speak the same line – I’m not a murderer – ad nauseam. Neither does the show.

Verdict: best sellereight chapters of unmitigated boredom, isn’t the streaming equivalent of a fast-paced, gripping bestseller.


नीचे दिए गए लिंक को क्लिक करे और ज्वाइन करें हमारा टेलीग्राम ग्रुप और उत्तर प्रदेश की ताज़ा खबरों से जुड़े रहें | 

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