Film: Khakee: The Bihar Chapter
Director: Bhav Dhulia
Cast: Karan Tacker, Avinash Tiwary, Abhimanyu Singh, Jatin Sarna, Ravi Kishan, Ashutosh Rana, Nikita Dutta, Shraddha Das, Anup Soni
A young, principled IPS officer facing a dreaded gangster in Bihar, a state with one of the highest crime rates and lowest conviction rates, the first season of Khakee has the perfect backdrop. Written and created by Neeraj Pandey, who earlier gave hits like Special OPS, it only raises the bar.
The story trails an ambitious truck driver, Chandan Mahto, who turns a gangster and spread fear in Sheikhpura. Being hand-in-glove with the police force makes him invincible but things are in for a change as the new SP takes charge. What follows is a story whose strands are embroiled in the state’s caste system, corruption, power and politics set in 2000 to 2006.
Based on IPS Officer Amit Lodha’s book, Bihar Diaries: The True Story of How Bihar’s Most Dangerous Criminal Was Caught, it’s an engaging screenplay that holds one’s attention from the word go. If Amit Lodha is a fiery cop set on a mission, Chandan Mahto isn’t someone who would let go of his position as the dreaded Bhaiya at any cost.
The transformation of Karan Tacker to an earnest cop is incredible, even more surprising is Avinash Tiwary’s raw and rustic gangster act. Both the characters are author-backed and enacted well. The beauty of the screenplay is that even minor characters have their own arc. Abhimanyu Singh as SHO Ranjan Kumar is sincere and also a powerful narrator of the seven-episode series. Jatin Sarna as Dilip Sahu aka Chawanprash lives the gangster’s aide’s role superbly well. You love and hate Ashutosh Rana as IG Mukteshwar Chaubey as he turns instrumental in this story reaching its logical end.
Anup Soni as DIG Sudhir Paswan and Shraddha Das as telecom employee Saumya Mukherjee are the face of India - honest and upright - that you would want to see. The body language, intense emotions and earnestness of Kali Prasad Mukherjee as Ravinder Mukhiya is palpable. Director Bhav Dhulia makes his actors express with their eyes and body language. In this male stead, Nikita Dutta as Tanu Lodha, Amit’s wife, brings the personal aspect of the struggles of the cops and their demanding schedules. Aishwarya Sushmita as Sahu’s wife Meeta Devi delivers a fine performance.
Music by Advait Nemelkar complements the script. Thok Denge Katta Kapaar Mein, Aaiyena Humra Bihar Mein – the theme song transports you to a lawless world where the good and the bad are waging a fierce battle. The background score keeps the chase going. And old hits like Aap Ke Aa Jane Se provide stark contrast to the situation!
When Meeta Devi says, “Sir thoda IPC hum bhi jante hain, bahut vetran criminal ki wife hain,” it drives straight home. It’s the Hindi diction that one falls in love with – main becomes hum for Amit Lodha as he tries to fit in a world starkly different from his; pleej (please) to phace (face), one enjoys the lilt of the language. It’s the mind games that the duo plays that keep one invested. Thought the series is shot in Jharkhand, cinematography by Hari Nair shows a world with ponds, forests and rural life giving it a real touch. Chase sequences by action director Abbas Ali Moghul are shot realistically, lending an authentic touch to the series.
If the large ensemble cast is this thriller’s major strength, it’s also its undoing as there are too many tracks are simultaneously going on, making it a tad bit longer than one would want it to be. Taut screenplay, fine performances and shot beautifully, Bhav Dhulia directorial Khakee, streaming on Netflix, makes for a very engaging watch.