Cast: Arshad Warsi, Barun Sobti, Sharib Hashmi, Ridhui Dogra, Anupriya Goenka, Amey Wagh
Director: Oni Sen
Indian web shows have almost caught up with the good content worldwide, especially in the crime-thriller genre. The budget and hence the production value could still be a constraint but it’s turning out really well on the storytelling part. The latest such show on the block, Voot Select’s Asur does its job quite neatly.
There’s a bit of Hindu mythological references and a tinge of supercop extravaganza, Asur travels back and forth in time zones 18 years apart. There’s Delhi with high IQ yet struggling officers and there’s Banares with even higher IQ criminals.
CBI officer Dhananjay Rajput (Arshad Warsi) has been accused of his wife’s murder and his former colleague Nikhil Nair (Barun Sobti) is the only one with willingness and expertise to solve the mystery. But before the FBI-returned Nair could get a grip on the situation, he finds himself entangled in serial killings. What he and his fellow officers such as Lolark Dubey (Sharib Hashhmi) and Nushrat (Ridhi Dogra), could achieve in a limited period forms rest of the story.
However, director Oni Sen, in typical True Detective style, binds this murder mystery with a genius-gone-wild narrative of a psychopath killer. It actually serves the purpose, especially when he shoots in open space with characters in close ups. You remember those American crime stories where the green fields engulf corpses and hid double-edged daggers.
In fact, the essence of Asur is to give it a mystical touch and exploring the impact of religious beliefs on the making of a serial killer. There are loose ends but Sen has tried to attach authenticity to his characters. You see characters reciting verses from religious books and standard psychology books. We also witness people fighting due to their biases and some only sticking to facts. In short, there’s a segregation—objective and blinded by faith. And this has been done in the most obvious way. You may accuse Sen of spoonfeeding the audience but such ploy serves the purpose. You know which side to choose!
Barun Sobti’s simple-yet-cool charm and assuring presence takes over from here. Be it Tu Hai Mera Sunday or 22 Yards, he has gone beyond expectations. He is subtle, unassuming and nuanced. Wish we could see more of him and quite often. Though Arshad Warsi spearheads Asur but Sobti slowly makes it his own.
Warsi and Sharib Hashmi have also stuck to their briefs. With his experience, Warsi never crosses the threshold of theatrics and brings in other supporting characters without making it obvious.
The look and feel of Asur is also relatively new to the Indian audience. Though Sacred Games will also be the pioneer in this segment but Asur has got its game right.
It loses the sheen towards the last episodes though. It becomes obvious and plays as per the natural progression in the viewer’s head. On second glance, it might seem as an oversimplified version of the good versus evil plot, but it will definitely hold your attention till you reach there.
Asur, an eight-episode series, is a good pick during coronavirus lockdown.
Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha