Kashyap reminded us all that 90% of the people we hang around with are never happy at our successes and only await our fall.
Despite IMDb readers’ super excellent rating of 9.3/10, the last four episodes of Yudh must sign off in style for all the promise, action, top draw performances, quality, slickness and style it displayed so far.
The Amitabh Bachchan starrer marquee series got me hooked for the first time in years
The Amitabh Bachchan starrer marquee series got me hooked for the first time in years – last being ‘Directors Special series’ by the same channel, SET (Sony Entertainment Television) five years ago. Anurag Kashyap and slick-fast-paced storyline being the common links in both series. Strong messages to society being another.
In Episode 15 there is a scene where a young aunt awaits outside school to meet her estranged nephews. The meeting is short and soon the kids have to go, but as aunt Mona, lays her cheeks out, closing eyes, awaiting goodbye kisses, the kids run away. Mona’s best friend and live in partner, another young lady, doesn’t disappoint the barren cheek, plants a kiss as both move on. Enough to send a message to society, that two ladies being physically close is normal and needn’t get the self-declared moral police excited.
The hard hitting turning point of the series was even closer to life. The son returns after a chilling captive stint with Naxalites only to find his best friends joking and seeking more masala out of it. Kashyap reminded us all that 90% of the people we hang around with are never happy at our successes and only await us to fall, so that they have spice to bitch about and enliven their sedentary days. The son resets his non-directional life after that one phone call.
Yudh has been scripted with several similar content which forces to introspect. That step siblings can depend on each other through toughest of times; that insecure housewives (and their parents) shouldn’t put blanket on their husband’s illegal activities; that loyalty exists big time in life; that love in unconditional – a stepfather has no problems when his daughter is going out of her way to help her biological father.
But despite top performances from Big B, Zakir Hussain, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Aahana Kumra, Pavail Gulati, Mona Vasu and ably supported by each cast, Yudh has humongous odds to overcome. TV audiences have been used to a diet of simplistic, predictable fare since the years of Hum Log and Buniyaad. Breaking free from that mould needs perfection and strong audience connect.
Yudh is walking a thin line on these counts. In a bid to provide uniqueness, the 16 episodes have been dedicated to some complication and ‘against the flow’ traffic – a corporate big wig family and their key employees landing into one trouble or another. For example, the right hand man, Anand, is juggling between his son’s special needs, to a murder case framing against him, to saving his company and his boss.
The protagonist, YS, battles between terminal illness, his illusions, attempts by the minister to finish off his empire, family’s unhappiness with proximity to his step daughter, Naxals not allowing his mine to operate, corporate rivals putting one challenge after another, right hand man in various problems, own brother-in-law plotting and Mona taking her sister’s murder charge on herself. It started with his hospital being bombed in the debut episode to his son being charged with attack on Naxalites in the last episode (16th).
While it showcases the will of the characters to stay strong amidst the mayhem, it’s tested the patience of viewer for a turnaround. With 80% of the series over, it’s too much of an imbalance and will take a miracle to satiate the viewer and answer all questions within last four episodes. Imagine if in a three hour movie, two and a half goes in villain continuously battering, new characters coming in at drop of hat adding to infliction and the hero living by luck than any strong reply. After a point, you may stop caring. And it’s been too long a wait for Nawazuddin Siddique’s entry.
Make no mistake, Indian television needs more such stuff to compete with their western counterparts and show we can do just better. The makers have been nothing short of brilliant, the audiences have their heart beating for many of the leads – YS, Taruni, Anand, Mona, Rishi to be specific. The episodes have tremendous repeat viewing value. But for the thinning viewer base to trust and spread word of quality series, Yudh needs to end on a super high, before the next saas-bahu series hogs the limelight.
Big thanks to Anurag, Ribhu and the entire team for assembling India’s most expensive television series, for attempts at excellence, difference.