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Dahaad review: Sonakshi Sinha's tough cop play and Vijay Varma's spine-chilling act are reasons enough to binge this unnerving series

You are in for something so dark and creepy that there won't be any remorse in hating Vijay Varma's onscreen persona once again.

Dahaad review: Sonakshi Sinha's tough cop play and Vijay Varma's spine-chilling act are reasons enough to binge this unnerving series
Sonakshi Sinha and Vijay Varma in Dahaad

Last Updated: 12.35 AM, May 12, 2023


A succession of women's bodies are discovered in public restrooms, and sub-inspector Anjali Bhaati (Sonakshi Sinha) is put in charge of the inquiry. An intriguing game of cat-and-mouse between a seasoned criminal and an underdog cop ensues as she comes to think that the seemingly clear-cut suicides may be the work of a serial killer on the loose.


There are several instances where we hear these sentences: "Never trust a man who..." But are these words enough when you are at your most vulnerable and someone knows how to hit you where it hurts? Dahaad is about trust, which is a questionable word in today's times. The series talks about a serial killer who is right in front of you, but you refuse to believe that he is a cold-blooded murderer.


The first scene of the eight episodes shows the victims dead inside a public bathroom wearing bridal attire and lying on the floor with foam at the mouth. While the series kicks off with the police in Mandawa, Rajasthan, looking into the disappearance of a woman, subinspectors Anjali Bhaati (Sonakshi Sinha) and Kailash Parghi (Sohum Shah), two of Officer Devi Singh's (Gulshan Devaiah's) top cops, are assigned to the case.

The hour-long episode is all about setting the tone, which takes a lot longer to pick up as it catalyses the whole communal angle. The missing girls cases are opened like a can of worms, and in no time, we are seeped into the dark and disturbing world of a man who is on a killing spree.

Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, who are the creators of the show, smartly bring in the female gaze as it should be by making them the victims but not someone to blame. Before every decision is taken, there is an often-unnoticed awareness of what power is at work in shaping the decision.

As the show progresses, we are made aware of who is behind all the crimes, but like cops, the audience is left to guess how the culprit will be caught, as it's unbelievable that the perpetrator, who keeps on preparing for his next victim ahead, behaves like committing these crimes is a cakewalk. Well, it's no surprise that Vijay Varma, as Anand Swarnakar, is the sadist psychopath who convinces himself that he is a lovable man but prays to Lucifer to become this heinous criminal.

A villain without a backstory is truly one of the greatest tales, and Anand's story goes on the same path, which is the actual reason why Dahaad makes for a gripping series. It's the need of the hour to know what's behind a man's decision to just become a serial killer for decades while leading a happy familial life. The actor scares you and creeps you out to the core with how he gets a sadistic pleasure in showing this unspeakable monstrosity. Thus, it's no surprise that once again Vijay Varma is making fans love to hate his character, just like he made us resent Hamza in Darlings.

The heat in Rajasthan keeps on soaring as the crime rate keeps on increasing. The intriguing part of the series is how it starts with a communal angle, which sets the underlying tone throughout. It's not honour killing entirely, but a girl who is apparently "past" her marriageable age eloping is shown as lifting a family's burden.

With this as a plot point, the makers have made the leading character, Anjali Bhaati, someone who belongs to a lower caste. It's pretty evident that she doesn't get the respect she deserves because of her "caste", plus being a lady cop. Being a police officer doesn't stop people around her calling her by names such as "pataakha", "lady Singham," and what not! Eve-teasing is the norm, irrespective of the fact that she calls them out instantly.

Sumit Arora, Reema Kagti, and Zoya Akhtar are among the writers of the series, including the dialogues, while Kagti has co-directed the episodes with Ruchika Oberoi. The precise planning that these mavericks did to make it a success sets the bar for the rest of the series. From the second episode until the seventh, Dahaad maintains the right pace, where the viewers are also becoming the lenses that are hooked on to the screens.

Like those innocent victims who have no escape, we also maintain the same momentum as the series progresses. With a great screenplay and a slow-burn narrative, you might even fall off the edge, given that women's safety will always be a topic of discussion.

Like Vijay Varma scares you to death with his smile to die for, literally, Sonakshi Sinha manages to shoulder the show as if it were just tailor-made for her. The actor brings the right balance of a tough exterior with a soft heart, because as a woman, that's the need of the hour. Her constant battle is not just to nab the criminal but also to fight the atrocities of society for being a "forward-thinking" and "backward-class" woman (it just disturbs me to even type these words). Although seen less on the screen for quite some time now, Dahaad has proven to be worth the wait in her more than decade-long journey as an actor.

In Dahaad, Sohum Shah as Kailash Parghi has a constant dialogue about how this world is not a place to live and no new people should be entering it. It's true, and the biggest dilemma in today's world is planning a child. The questions raised are absolutely valid, and bringing them out of a man's mouth is definitely worth mentioning.

Another incredible character is Gulshan Devaiah as the Station House Officer (SHO) at Mandawa Police Station. On one side, we have Anand, who makes the world hell. Zoya and Reema created Devi Lal Singh, a cop who doesn't discriminate between genders, which is the normal behaviour that is made to mention, thanks to the dislike of "feminism" by many.

The cinematographers Yogi Sankotra and Tanay Satam do a good job of capturing the barren, windy land of Rajasthan, which is full of palaces and eerie nooks and corners. Making them more pensive and hooking is the music by Tarana Marwah and Gaurav Raina. We are sucked in in no time, and rightly so!

Dahaad is better than what we have seen in recent times in terms of web series. It's the women's storytelling that makes the series usual yet unique given the backdrop it has been set in. Who doesn't enjoy crime thrillers? However, the writers' choice of a narrative focus is more on the "why" side of the crimes than who committed them. Well, that has worked well for me.


Barring the kickstart and not-so-detailed ending, Dahaad will keep you glued to the screens like it did to me for eight straight hours (no kidding). You are in for something so dark and creepy that there won't be any remorse in hating Vijay Varma's onscreen persona once again.


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