Manav Vij and Saloni Batra’s ‘Animal’ Fame Show: A Shocking, Engaging, and Unique Masterpiece

‘Gaanth’ is not an easy watch. It’s a sharp and hushed take on issues that are both prevalent and discomforting. It goes beyond the obvious chase to nab the mastermind
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Cast: Manav Vij, Saloni Batra, Monika Panwar, Anshul Sharma Ansh

Director: Kanishk Verma

Language: Hindi

Given how turbulent and twisted the narratives of most of the shows are in recent times, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Gaanth Chapter 1- Jamnaa Paar, the new show that drops on JioCinema, begins with an upside down view of how the city of Delhi looks like at midnight, and also a city that’s only going to get darker in all possible forms. The web series is a yet another addition to endless stories that want disgraced and alcoholic heroes to solve issues and redeem their bruised souls. Manav Vij here plays that hero who gets the most unlikely introductory shot for a central character.

The murkiness of the moniker

Gaanth means knot. And the literalness of the name is established right in the first episode when this very disgraced police officer makes an edgy entry into the crime scene. A family has died by mass suicide and all the bodies are hanging close to each other. It’s a shot that has not been seen before in Hindi language landscape. The criminals in cinema are genuinely getting creative as times pass by. The crime remains the same, the modus operandi brims with inventiveness. And inevitably, the police are shaken to the core, the movement is snail-paced as the scene is too perplexed for them to take any action. This stretch is more of an expose of the department’s inefficiency rather than movie clichés. Half of the first episode unfolds inside that mysterious house that raises more questions than it should. And Vij embodies the character with the kind of brooding energy he has championed with some of his last outings. In some scenes, he looks exhausted and drained, he struggles to speak effectively. And joining him is Animal fame Saloni Batra, a courteous officer who gets the Delhi dialect correct.

The cacophony of the media

Media’s role in such stories has been both crucial and cacophonous. Gaanth is no different. Director Kanishk Verma and creator Soham Bhattacharya mercifully refrain from presenting further Arnab Goswami caricatures. But there are cartoons that harp on sensationalism to revel in eyeballs and TRPs. And amid the noise, the neighbours are expectedly mum. Batra, in one scene, smilingly asks Vij, who’s called Gadar (and the name blends with his aura) to keep patience as it leads to success. This happens at a moment when she does his bandages as he has hurt his toe. The case has just begun and it has already claimed the man’s blood. Even the reliance on expletives feels justified after a point as the gravity of the alarming case quadruples. Just like Netflix’s Kohrra, there’s a sense of urgency and eeriness that loom large on the show’s seedy and atmospheric world. A parallel track about a doctor who has severe personal issues is juxtaposed with the complexities of the investigation. She wants to lend a helping hand, but when have solutions been so effortless in a society mauled by greed and politics?

Ghosts and Gore

Guns are kept silent and yet, gore takes centre stage. And so do the ghosts- both literally and metaphorically. One central character is being haunted by the ghosts of his past, and the other by her own demons. The people around have contrasting theories that only add more grip and grime to the already ballooning case. Some dismiss the deaths as homicide, some label it as an act of paranormal. Religion, blind-faith, all references are thrown in. It’s clear the intent of the makers was to craft a show that doesn’t end up being a run-of-the-mill whodunnit. As the suspects and mysterious characters mount, it becomes all the more complicated and compelling. Even the necessity of ending every episode on a cliffhanger, which mostly happens for effect, achieves its purpose.

Gaanth is not an easy watch. It’s a sharp and hushed take on issues that are both prevalent and discomforting. It goes beyond the obvious chase to nab the mastermind, it exposes the politics of the police force, the media, and the world of medicine. The visuals are grotesque and also flirt with noir and horror. And yes, abiding by the title, it’s knotted in way more complexities and complications than you could possibly imagine or expect. But ultimately, the show is about delivering justice to the one who’s wronged. But even justice and success have a price. They too are at times accompanied by many knots we can never untie.

Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)

Gaanth Chapter 1- Jamnaa Paar is now streaming on JioCinema

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