Cast: Mohammad Samad, Yash Dholye, Karanvir Malhotra, Rajesh Tailang
Director: Udayan Prasad
The second season of Selection Day, based on eponymous book by Arvind Adiga, deviates its focus from just the perennially irritated father and branches out in all directions giving some sort of resonance to other lead characters. Thankfully, it works and how!
Just like the first season, the new season also has six episodes of nearly 25 minutes each, but this time they’re darker, more surreal and definitely more engaging. While the two prodigal cricketer sons, Manju and Radha (Mohammad Samad and Yash Dholye), and their weirdly confident father Mohan (Rajesh Tailang) are yet to find their way in the ruthless city of Mumbai, they seem to be heading towards a vantage point. The good thing is that you get a respite from Tailang’s undivided anger and get to see the boys taking charge on and off the 22-yard pitch.
Even Akshay Oberoi’s morally conflicted businessman and Mahesh Manjrekar’s back-from-retirement cricket coach get enough time to spread their wings and make their presence felt. This time, it’s all about the smart choices made by the writers who have included the two boys in most of the key plot points.
It keeps following a predictable path though. Samad takes the center-stage and just like his flawless half-volley, channels a certain earnestness into the show. Dholye, despite being given a similar screen-time, seems unidirectional in approach. Maybe this is how it was intended but Samad emerges as the glue between turns and twists. In fact, it wouldn’t feel exaggerated if you end up thinking about the show from his perspective, even in the situation not directly involving him.
Then there are scenes where you wouldn’t be able to differentiate right from the wrong or truth from the imagination. The suspense about Tailang’s conspicuously absent wife becomes a bone of resentment between the boys and their father. A new character of a street smart Marathi businesswoman, played by an expressive Amruta Subhash (remember Raman Raghav 2.0?), is plotted as the tool to corner Tailang, who, in a terrifically nuanced way, thickens the plot around his wife.
This isn’t the only scene where you witness the writers playing with the idea of willing suspension of disbelief, quite literally. Ratna Pathak Shah’s tired school principal talks to herself and Shiv Pandit’s God diffuses a charged moment by resorting to the millennial language. You see what they do there? They wilfully make themselves a part of our daily struggle. Something that Adiga’s novel is also committed to.
There are lengthy parts too, which is surprising because such small episodes shouldn’t ideally have much of a breathing space. The track involving Karanvir Malhotra’s Javed is stretched and doesn’t lead to a point where you begin feeling for him. Also, the whole brat-turned-vulnerable angle is too clichéd to make the audience look beyond the usual. It appears too convenient, to put it mildly.
Selection Day 2 also suffers due to the core idea of Mumbai being the city of conniving people and heartbroken prodigies. Not that they’re myths but we have been there and done that. Films such as Takshak and Guru have captured the same essence in a more serious way.
What tremendously works in favour of Selection Day 2 is the makers’ basic understanding of keeping it the story about adolescence and how changing surroundings can change a teenager’s psyche, and how despite coming from different parts of the world, all youngsters, more or less, speak the same language laden with compassion and hope. This is when Selection Day 2 surpasses the expectations, especially after a nearly dull first season.
Netflix seems to have a slow-burner on its hands. This show may get devout followers in coming seasons.
Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha