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Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein review: Tahir Raj Bhasin, Shweta Tripathi’s wannabe pulpy drama lacks meat

In the fictional town of Onkara, brews a twisted love triangle between Vikrant, a do-gooder engineer, Purva, an obsessive spoilt daughter of the local politician and Shikha, an innocent by-stander to the sheer madness that ensues.

2.5
  • Shreya Paul

  • OTTplay

Last Updated: 12.37 PM, Jan 14, 2022

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Story: Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein follows Vikrant as he tries to save his life and sanity from Purva, the daughter of local politician Akheraj Avasthi. Purva’s unhealthy obsession with Vikrant jeopardises his equation with Shikha. As his life gradually goes for a toss, Vikrant also turns a new leaf and decides to chart grey territories.

Review:

Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein begins on a misogynistic note with Vikrant, the proverbial hero (played by Tahir Raj Bhasin) as he says, “three things can destroy a man – money, power and women.”

This hackneyed trope, as finalistic as it may sound, makes you wince immediately. Essentially because, with such lofty declarations, the end needs to justify the means, otherwise it’s just another floozy series.

Vikrant’s love life and by extension his machismo, is completely emaciated by the local politician Akheraj Avasthi ‘Vidrohi’ (played by Saurabh Shukla), a notorious Godfather-esque figure who wields power from the barrel of his tamancha (gun). His clout enables him to call the shots of mostly every individual in the small town without as much as their consent. And if this wasn’t enough, Akheraj’s spoilt daughter Purva (Anchal Singh) has her romantic interests steadfastly fixed on Vikrant. Through a brief flashback sequence, audiences are told that Purva’s sheer obsession with Vikrant during her pre-pubescent years in school always led to a tryst with ill-luck for the boy. Disgusted and frustrated, the young Vikrant rejects Purva’s offer of school friendship.

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Cut two, we’re brought to the present where a grown-up Vikrant is an able engineer, waiting wide-eyed for his appointment letter from Bhilai, where he plans to set up a quaint little house with Shikha (Shweta Tripathi), the love of his life. But Vikrant’s haven is quickly destroyed with the sudden return of Purva, who promptly plonks herself beside him and eliminates all possible impediments to their reunion, ala Akheraj’s unabashed gun slinging and rampant shootouts.

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When asked about the inspiration behind Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein, showrunner and co-writer for the series says it was always the 90s pulp thrillers that stuck with him forever till he actually penned the series. The script for the series was also with him for over two decades. “My inspiration for the series comes from the pulpy thrillers in classic Indian cinema spotlighting Vijay Anand and Salim-Javed, whom I grew up admiring. I have always been a fan of their work and Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein, the title inspired by the iconic ‘90s hit song from a film of the same genre, is an ode to all the pulpy thrillers of those times,” Sengupta says.

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These patent tropes do abound in the universe of the fictitious town of Onkara, where Vikrant’s journey to disentangle from the amoeba-like clutches of the Avasthi clan become more difficult by the day. Varun Badola’s gripping dialogues and the cast’s authentic command over the local dialect establish the authenticity of the series well enough.

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In a very Othello-like format, Vikrant slowly but surely walks to his perishable end, all the while knowing that he cannot undo the sins he commits on the way. As Vikrant descend into a ruthless rebel, his beloved ones around him begin feeling more and more alienated. Singh’s turn as the silent yet dangerous lover makes for a worthy watch, though you’d honestly want her to be a little less on-the-nose with the frequent creepy smiles. Bhasin’s turn as the helpless soul stuck between muscle and manpower, is convincing enough for a one-time watch.

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The obvious standout performance among these is Tripathi’s. Though she takes up considerably less screentime, Shikha is both adorable and real. Tripathi’s constant radiance before the lens is unmistakable and it’s becoming clearer by each project that the actress signs, that she is just that natural.

And even though the cast includes heavyweights like Shukla and Bijendra Kala (who plays a hilarious father to Vikrant), Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein lacks the meat that would bolster it into the realm of ‘fantastic.’

The plot fizzles out after a long-drawn crises sequence, and Vikrant’s character feels very confused at crucial junctures. Even Shikha’s compliance with the ludicrousness of Akheraj’s wily ways is a little difficult to digest, more so if one adds Vikrant’s spinelessness into the equation.

Verdict: With the likes of Mirzapur and Undekhi preceding the show, the standards set were rather high and only a hard-hitting narrative could have broken the mould and set a new benchmark. For now, Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein just manages to make a feeble dent.


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