The Disney+ Hotstar's revenge saga, also starring Namrata Sheth, lacks the spark.
A group of wealthy families on the island of Alibaug wrong Satyajeet (Rohit Roy), a business magnate and the father of Ambika (Namrata Sheth), and he loses all respect from the people of India as a result. Anamika, now going by the name Karma Talwar, decides to exact retribution on those responsible for her father's demise by making a triumphant return to the island after more than ten years away. In the upscale suburb, Karma swiftly rises through the ranks. Not long after Karma begins to act suspiciously, Indrani Kothari (Raveena Tandon), a former actress who had a significant impact on Anamika's father Satyajeet's fate, is one of the first to notice.
Several Ekta Kapoor series were magnets on television that attracted viewers during the evening hours on weekdays. Then, these shows were exhausted and fizzled out after running for about 2000 to 4000 episodes, leaving their residues on TV but without any overall impact. In the times of OTT, even that seems to be on the path to cease to exist. But Ruchi Narain had another plan altogether. She adapted the American TV show Revenge for OTT in India as Karmma Calling on Disney+ Hotstar.
The original show was adapted from The Count of Monte Cristo and ran from 2011 to 2015. However, if brought to India, the high-class drama with plot points brought back my childhood, when I was obsessed with these kinds of shows. It's been nearly a decade since Revenge ended; thus, having a family drama on OTT with Raveena Tandon as the leading elite queen sounds meaty, and it looks too. With her fringed and feathered outfits and never having a bad hair day, the actor effortlessly brings both cattiness and style. Not just about her appearance, the actor also owns the screen whenever she appears with her pride as well as a slight empathy, which underplays the whole time.
But the soap opera theme is so done and dusted that, despite having an engaging plot of revenge in the series, it gets tough to gauge through the show. The plot tries to build up with every supporting character facing revenge in terms of insult, shame, and ultimate death. The series alternates between flashbacks and current times, uncovering the wrongs inflicted upon Satyajit (Rohit Roy) by the elite society. However, it remains unclear what exactly transpired, aside from the involvement of many, which ultimately led to the biggest scam.
The purpose of the story is quite pulpy, and every episode ends with a cliffhanger as well as one step heading towards the mission of seeking revenge by Ambika, now portraying Karma after her father's death. However, as time passes, the seemingly foolproof planning becomes tiresome because it only serves to conclude the episodes.
On top of that, none of the actors are good enough to catch your attention. The series does work because of Raveena's presence, but even she is unable to shoulder the series after a couple of episodes. The actor created and left a better impact as the cop, Kasturi Dogra, in the Netflix series, Aranyak. However, the other actors are simply there without any intention of showcasing their best performances.
Namrata Sheth, who is a parallel lead as the character Karma Talwar, doesn't even have a striking presence despite having a meaty and menacing character who alone sets out to destroy the elite society of Alibaug. However, it's just her actions that make the series go forward, not her performance. Moreover, even her chemistry with her two leading men, played by Varun Sood and Rachit Singh, is so bland that everything seems forced. Even these actors, along with others, are quite underwhelming and fail to even make an effort to show why they are even a part of the series.
The whole series appears to prioritise high production value but is hindered by actors who struggle to deliver convincing performances or portray visually appealing characters. By the end of the season, the murder depicted in the first episode appears to serve as the ultimate goal. But the telenovela twist ends the show on a cliffhanger, so should I be interested? Well, I am trying to be.
Ruchi Narain, who earlier directed the Netflix film Guilty, helmed Karmma Calling, where she brings thrilling undertones and the efforts just go in vain during its screen translation. Well, if this was just the beginning of a better second season, we just have to wait and watch patiently, right?
Despite the show's attempts to weave a web of intrigue and betrayal, Karmma Calling struggles to rise above the clichés of soap opera drama.