In an OTT ecosystem pullulating with stories mired in crime, blood and gore, Vikas Bahl’s quirky and engaging chef d’oeuvre Good Bad Girl gambles on the piquant and hilariously outlandish tale of an extraordinary girl who knows a thing or two about lying. The 9-episode series is innocuously rough at the edges and is riddled with a fair share of flaws but regardless makes for a riveting watch - predominantly because of Samridhi Dewan who embodied her character and profusely oozed her knack as an actor that was devoid of ennuis and blemishes. Not calling her the soul of the series would be grossly unfair to her genius.
In the grander scheme of things, the story of Maya Ahuja (played by Samridhi) follows her not-so-affluent life as a naive and nonabrasive kid unbeknownst to the daedal philosophy of truth and lies. Through her myriad observations around her environment, a naive Maya eventually gets introduced to the wonders of lying and is propounded by the spoils of it. With time and experience, as visualised through her childhood experiences and then later through zany encounters in a law school in Pune, Maya’s inferiority complex in regards to her economic conditions only furthers her to be more brazen about lying. Now as a successful lawyer in a burgeoning law firm and juggling some undisclosed inner demons and anger management issues, Maya lands herself in an odd situation which she uses as a leverage over her employers and an extra vindictive colleague who is not fond of her.
The ensuing drama is embellished with several sub-plots that are tightly-strung together with the overarching narrative. Whether it’s the cat and mouse dynamics between Maya and her colleague lawyer Sahil Mistry (played by Vaibhav Raj Gupta), her lopsided camaraderie with Jhilmil Lohia (played by Namrata Sheth) or her bid to get her charming and infectious ex-boyfriend Prithvi Banerjee (played by Zain Khan) back into her life, there are more than just one factor at play in Maya Ahuja’s chaotic life and all of them are coalesced in a way that the progression of the story doesn’t get jarring.
Abhishek Sengupta, who has helmed the web series has a keen eye for details. For instance, all the scenes involving the retro Dairy Milk chocolates or how the birthday parties were celebrated back in the 90s, laced with some bone-tickling impervious comedy is bound to hit a nerve with you. The makers have also served dollops of nostalgia through several scenes. Additionally, Good Bad Girl couldn’t be constricted to any one particular genre because it flows effortlessly from one bracket to another, and that too without compromising the essence of the story. For some that might pave way for an immersive experience but for others, it could be perceived as an unnecessary experiment. But even with some incredible writing and direction, Good Bad Girls does fall prey to stagnation midway into the series before eventually picking up the pace again towards the end.
Within the microcosm created by Vikas Bahl, the writers have also taken the liberty to walk you through the less talked about themes of micro traumas emanating in the formative years of childhood. In the way that the makers have dealt with the subject, there is a subtle nuance to the treatment that borders the echelons of empathy. Instead of diluting the impact, a scene involving a young Maya Ahuja and her orthodox mother Nimmi Ahuja (played by Sheeba Chadha), the palpable tension between the mother and daughter duo amid a doting father Raman Ahuja (played by Rajendra Sethi) caught in the crossfire accurately and realistically encapsulates what constitutes micro-trauma. Besides this, the writers don’t yield much in the name of predictability. Even with an ample number of titillating twists and turns, the climax fails to reach its crescendo.
On the acting front, Samridhi Dewan as Maya Ahuja is the star of the show. In some scenes, she is affable and funny, in others she exudes fierceness and vulnerability like nobody else. Her performance is convincing because ehe portrays the most intricate of emotions without a hitch. Her rawness as a trailblazing actress shines even more fervently in scenes that are intense and realistic. Vaibhav Raj Gupta as Sahil Mistry is another refreshing surprise because he breaks away from his popular character of Annu Mishra from Gullak and essays a more cutthroat, crisp and fluent lawyer of a firm.
Needless to say, Vaibhav has the wavelength to play serious roles. Gul Panag as Zaina Mistry, the owner of the law firm is impressive in the role of an authoritative boss. On the other hand, Zain Khan Durrani’s talent seemed a bit underutilized, considering what a powerhouse of an actor he is. Even the supporting characters and actors have been properly meshed out. Soham Majumder in the skin of Dr Punit, Aanjjan Srivastav as Judge Kulkarni or Monica Chaudhary in the role of Heena, the makers didn’t make them one-dimensional and they served a larger purpose for the story to progress.
Good Bad Girl is also supported by a scintillating team of technicians. While Kunal Walve’s editing furbished a non-linear style of storytelling, Sarvesh Srivastava and Sahej Bakshi’s music infused the much-needed verve to take the story to the next level. Aakash Agarwal’s cinematography is a sparkling mix of captivating shots, more fixated on the expressions rather than the ethos. In a nutshell, this Vikas Bahl’s series makes for a stimulative watch and offers a palatable diversity in the buffet of similar-look-and-feel OTT series pandering to limited genres in hand.
Good Bad Girl is now streaming on SonyLIV.