Cast: Suniel Shetty, Vivek Oberoi, Sonali Kulkarni, Luke Kenny, Freddy Daruwala
Director: Samit Kakkad
Evaluation: 2 stars (out of 5)
A crime lord in his maze and a criminal on a personal mission face off in Dharavi Bank, a ten-part original MX Player series built with creaky components that reek of mustiness. Pretty much the only thing new to this crooks and cops drama is the presence of Suniel Shetty.
Directed by Samit Kakkad and written by Sarthak Dasgupta, Dharavi Bank revolves around the connection between politicians and criminals – a theme that has been done to death in films and web shows – and seeks to draw power from violence. extreme perpetrated on both sides of the divide.
The lawman responsible for maintaining order does not hesitate to blind an enemy with his bare hands. The members of the gang he is tasked with eliminating are capable of much worse. The mafia don hums a lullaby as he hangs a troublesome cop and makes a murder look like suicide.
His trusted tormentor, who plies his trade in a dimly lit and squalid basement, sings Lalon Fakir (an 18th-century Bengali mystic poet) as he coldly dismembers people and feeds starving, caged German shepherds .
Gangster mischief is meant to be scary. Everything they end up being is totally desensitizing. By seeking the casual in the macabre and the nonchalant in the infamous, Dharavi Bank undermines his own efforts to create a modern version of purgatory in one of the world’s largest slums and make it the setting for an old-fashioned battle between good and evil.
Dharavi Bank is a cross between Nayakan and Mirzapur but is obviously without the rigor of the first and the vigor of the second. He is overinvested in the clichés of a saga of the underworld populated by murderous men who kill each other and thumb their noses at the law with complete impunity.
Suniel Shetty, in his first foray into the digital space, plays a ruthless gangster who leads the syndicate that gives the series its title and is so named because it’s here that politicians and others with ill-gotten riches park their funds for a rainy day. .
The mafia suffers no opposition. Anyone who dares to needle him is summarily sent to the dark, damp torture chamber where said butcher armed with a meat cleaver goes to work with undisguised glee.
The veteran actor’s screen presence is undeniably strong, but the Tamil accent he grapples with is not only affected but also disorienting. Trapped in a messy and twisting storyline, Shetty is unable to rise above a confusion that ends in a predictable series of murders.
As the number of bodies increases and Dharavi Bank make its way to its peak, the door is left ajar for another season. There would obviously be plenty of room for improvement when another batch of episodes went into production. More of the same would be a waste of effort.
Certainly the villain in Dharavi Bank is not an uninteresting number. He is an extremely gentle man who measures his words. His actions, often contradictory in nature, speak louder than words. He loves spending time with a niece, daughter of a widowed sister, as much as he loves ordering his men to wreak havoc.
The gangster – his name is Thalaivan – has two sons who are worlds apart. Shiva (Krishna Vamsi) is impetuous; Veera (Siddharth Menon) is calm. The first flies away at the slightest provocation; the latter is a nerdy youngster who advises his father to diversify and modernize his criminal enterprise instead of leaving all the money in his coffers idle.
Dharavi is the impregnable fortress of Thalaivan. He never leaves his citadel, which is an unlikely mansion with a large courtyard in the middle of Dharavi. He suffers from fear of croaking crows – they push him to the edge and force him out of his lair for a visit to the temple to conciliate the gods.
Jayant Gavaskar (Vivek Oberoi), the co-commissioner of police who has given up on taking down the almighty criminal and his cronies, has Thalaivan in the crosshairs because his enmity with the mafia don stems from a tragedy that plagues him. snatched from his bank officer-wife, Irawati (Samiksha Bhatnagar).
JCP Gavaskar reports to the Chief Minister of State, Janvi Surve (Sonali Kulkarni), who, too, wants Thalaivan out of the way, but only for his own political gains, not for the greater good of the people.
By his own admission, Jayant believes that yukti (strategy and logic) should always be more important than shakti (strength) in a cop’s arsenal. But his subsequent actions do little to prove it. It’s not his fault. The crime drama itself delivers the excess relentlessly, especially when it comes to the violence the characters inflict on each other.
Dharavi is overrated but ultimately far too hackneyed to make an impact. It has a multiplicity of characters appearing and exiting. Real estate agent Mahesh Ramakrishnan (Freddy Daruwala), who has family ties to Thalaivan, has his own motives. Sharpshooter Joe (Hitesh Bhojraj) never fully reveals his hand.
Blind hitman Michael (Luke Kenny) and his beloved Sakina (Shruti Srivastava) play their own games with each other and the rest of the world. Practicing lawyer Deepa (Bhavvna Rao), Thalaivan’s estranged daughter and Mahesh’s girlfriend, has distanced herself from the family because she doesn’t want to be sucked into their dark world.
Dharavi Bank does not deliver much percentage in terms of thrills. His attempts to temper his outbursts of murder and mayhem with quieter moments aimed at heightening the sense of dread and foreboding fail to bear fruit as the execution lacks fire and force.
Dharavi Bank sorely lacking the kind of narrative reservations that can fuel a gripping thriller. The assets at his disposal are anything but high-yield instruments. The result is a crime drama series that, when it really matters, gropes in the dark for a meaningful way forward. The goal proves elusive.
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