While the first season of the show delivered an intriguing premise, it lacked any real quality when it came to the technical side. The second season had a better budget, and it is evident in the quality of the technical aspects, but the story lacks the punch.
Last Updated: 03.33 AM, Jun 18, 2022
Story: DySP Jacob Anookkaaran leaves for Wayanad after Ajayan gifts him with Menaka, the self-proclaimed masterpiece. The story of the book revolves around a series of murders that were handled by Jacob in the past, and this makes him want to revisit this case from the past.
Review: The first season of Menaka came as a breath of fresh air for Malayali audiences, who were bored with what the Malayalam series had to offer. Menaka's creators chose a crime thriller with an intriguing premise rather than the usual comedy or family drama genres. Even though the show’s making was below par, it still struck a chord with the audience, who were given a story and a "villain" who had the police running in circles.
The second season, at first glance, has way better production values when compared to the first. Technically, the camera, sound, and editing are all better than the first, and this points to the second season having a bigger budget than the first. While the making does make it visually more pleasing, the story is not as solid as the first.
It starts with us being introduced to DySP Jacob, who is feeling the effects of his run-in with Ajayan, a serial killer with a foolproof plan. Ajayan kills himself live on TV before taking the lives of another six people, and he even gets close to killing Jacob in the first season. The second season has Jacob, now suffering from PTSD, travelling to Wayanad after he reads Ajayan’s self-proclaimed masterpiece, Menaka. The book tells the tale of a murdering policeman in a small village in Wayanad. The story, however, is eerily similar to a case Jacob had dealt with in his early days.
The story takes place in two time periods, both set in the village. The past one follows Jacob, who is just an SI who is trying to investigate the murder of a young man, followed by a killer who is hunting down other police officers. The second is set in real-time, where Jacob has returned to the village to find out what he got wrong the first time around.
Firstly, not only has the second season made things better on the technical side but the acting performances and direction have also improved. The first season saw some poor acting coupled with mediocre direction. The second season, on the other hand, has performers who know what they are doing. But this season is also driven forward by Ashwin Kumar, who is ever-present. A few familiar faces also appear in the second season, and if you are a fan of Menaka, it feels like the band getting back together, and it is enjoyable, albeit only for a few scenes.
While this season has gotten things right, it misses out on what made the first season a hit with the fans: its story and premise. The story has more holes in it than in the first season, either leaving the viewers guessing as to what the "lightbulb moment" was or simply not explaining. The first season had a pattern to each episode, with a murder happening towards the end of each episode, and we get that in the second season as well. Even if you can get past the fact that it feels a bit repetitive, it is not nearly as captivating as the deaths in the first season.
Remember how the first season had a villain who had a poisonous snake planted in a bag, waiting for his victim to get bit? Well, in the second season, we get to see police officers run into their deaths like fools, making them less credible and less interesting. While Ajayan was a mastermind who plotted his murders for ten years, the second season’s villain is just outright luck if anything.
Verdict: The first season of the show became a hit with the fans for two reasons; its intriguing storyline and the fact that it was a rather new idea. The second season feels like it sacrificed the story trying to make it feel like the first season, making it less enjoyable. The only thing that will keep you watching is the curiosity of finding out what happened to Jacob in Wayanad.