Even though Supriya Pathak has a brief role and Rithvik Dhanjani is not seen as much as Tanuj Virwani or especially Jitendra Joshi, Cartel remains an interesting watch.
Rani Maai (Supriya Pathak) has managed to keep the Cartel alive for years. However, after an attack, she slips into a coma, leaving the responsibility on her family's shoulders. Major Bhau (Tanuj Virwani), Madhu Mhatre (Jitendra Joshi) and Abhay Angre (Rithvik Dhanjani) have to take care of the politics in her absence, all while ensuring that their family is safe at all times.
AltBalaji and MX Player/MX Gold's Cartel is a show for people who love violence and a little family drama that audiences have been waiting for. The series is one-of-its-kind and worthy of your time.
Of course, Cartel isn't the perfect web series. While the show is gripping, the music doesn't help a scene much. The music needlessly adds melodrama to the sequences where silence would’ve helped. The show also switches between monochrome and colour for a special effect.
The series keeps you glued to your seats through and through. There are many deaths - some you expect, some you don't. The cinematography of the show, especially the camera angles are interesting. As a cherry on the cake, every actor on the show comes up with a near-memorable performance.
Rani maai (Supriya Pathak) has a cliched but powerful entry. She prays for her weapons. After a great first impression, unfortunately, the audience doesn't have the pleasure of seeing her on-screen.
They, however, get to witness the talents of three varied characters and actors Arjun Mhatre (Tanuj Virwani), Madhu Mhatre (Jitendra Joshi) and Abhay Angre (Rithvik Dhanjani). The three are at the centre of the story while other actors add more sparkle to the proceedings.
Arjun (Major Bhau) sports an intense look. He bags one of the show’s most complex and interesting characters. Even if he is level-headed, Major Bhau has a dangerous side to him.
His action sequence is unintentionally hilarious. Not that he doesn't do a fair job at it but the supporting actors overact which makes the otherwise intense scene laughable. The last portion of the scene, though, fares better. Major gets his revenge and the intense look and pain are quite visible in his eyes. His hook line 'major ki guarantee' lends the show a commercial touch.
Madhu's first scene is with Tannishtha Chatterjee, who plays a vital character in the show. She is introduced as a pro*****te.
While her character still builds up in the show, Madhu's costumes are clearly inspired by Ranveer Singh. It is fun and vibrant to the extent that it screams lively. Like the actor, Madhu too is ‘OTT’ with his approach in life. He loves endlessly and fearlessly but at the same time, when he is hurt, nothing can calm him down until he sees the end of the argument/fight.
His character only grows through the show. His accent, dialogues and body language hog most limelight. The actor's romantic side is equally adorable and is a highlight of the show.
Abhay, somehow, doesn't leave as much a powerful impact in the beginning. However, that is a given, since his role is of an immature and hyper son. His character grows on you with time. Abhay has dumb, cringy and fun moments which makes his scenes an entertaining watch. His immaturity also makes him a scary character, one who is at par or even worse than his brothers.
Girija Oak's performance as Rama Angre is consistent. She is a superstitious wife to Madhu and is adorable in her role. Within a short time frame, she manages to win the hearts of many.
Arjun and Madhu's chemistry is something else. While the latter is hyper, the former is cool-headed and composed. Similarly, Madhu and Abhay have a unique chemistry. Since they are both hyperactive, they understand each other better and so, when they are calm, the (cousin) brothers are like two peas in a pod.
Apart from the family members, the supporting characters also play an important role. The actors do full justice to their characters, which propels the show to a new level altogether.
Anna (Kannan Arunachalam), from Dharavi's gang, leaves a lasting impression. He is one of the most terrifying characters on the show. The same can be proven through a scene (in episode 4) with a black doggo named Chitti. His character only gets scarier from there. However, not many would expect that there is someone worse (or better, you decide) than Anna himself.
Khan (Anil George) leaves a neutral impact with his screen presence. He does not have many high moments on the show despite being one of the greatest actors in the series. However, writing him off so soon would not be right, considering he may have moments where he could shine in the next season.
Divya Agarwal's role as Grissey is something else. She deceives people from the first scene. As a prominent actress, she has a completely different outlook on life and can smartly mislead people to her benefit.
Dhaval, played by Marathi actor Amey Wagh, has a lukewarm entry. Later on, though, his character, even if brief, leaves quite an impact. His actions and of course, his performance are noteworthy.
Gajraj (Shubajyiti Bharat)'s entry is whistle-worthy. He lights up the screen every time with his presence.
Chairman (Ashwath Bhatt) is a mysterious character but he barely manages to leave an impression. He is a film producer who announces a project that all actors are waiting to join. As the show progresses though, he becomes one of the most interesting characters on the show with his impulsive and partly suspicious behaviour.
'Maya' Monica Dogra's performance is inconsistent. While her entry into the show isn't impressive, her first 'date' with Abhay is. The two connect on a level that is beyond human understanding, which makes their bond unique.
'Dorabjee' Samir Soni's entry too, could be more powerful but it is above average. The same can be said about his brief role throughout the show. His character isn't explored much in the series yet but there is a major hint that the upcoming season will indeed focus on him much more.
Two stories run parallelly in the series, showing how two people could have the same thought process in the case and solve it. However, the mystery remains unsolved, hinting at a new season of the show.
Cartel is for everyone who loves violence, a little family drama and the game of power. If you are trying to watch the series because of Supriya Pathak, be prepared to be disappointed. However, the other actors deserve a chance and your time too.