Well-steered pirate survival drama : The Tribune India

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Well-steered pirate survival drama

Well-steered pirate survival drama

The two episodes released so far generate many points of interest that are likely to amplify the audience’s curiosity quotient.

Film: Lootere

Director: Jai Mehta

Cast: Rajat Kapoor, Vivek Gomber, Amruta Khanvilkar, Chandan Roy Sanyal and Aamir Ali

Nonika Singh

Let us admit it, in a medium that thrives on binge watching, we are not great fans of episodic thrillers. But having said that, ‘Lootere’, two episodes of which are now available on Disney+Hotstar, will make you return for the remaining ones. Trust showrunner Hansal Mehta to tread unfamiliar territory and touch upon a subject that you don’t often or perhaps never get to see in Indian content. Trust him once again to pick up actors and not stars to steer his project.

Directed by his son Jai Mehta, ‘Lootere’, which takes us to Somalia (actually shot in South Africa), is inspired by the real-life event of a ship-hijack in the Somalian waters. Of course, written by Vishal Kapoor, Anshuman Sinha and Suparn Varma, it comes with a huge disclaimer: ‘a work of fiction’.

Like father, like son. The duo is on point as far as detailing and casting goes. If the Indian cast boasts of talented actors like Rajat Kapoor, Chandan Roy Sanyal and Vivek Gomber, those playing Somalians fit their parts to the T and are in groove too. Jai Mehta, who has previously assisted his father and makes his directorial debut with ‘Lootere’, has confessed how casting actors for the part of pirates was a big challenge. Another challenge that he surmounts successfully is that of scale, which is ambitiously vast. Yet, the execution is realistic and exemplary. Cinematography by Jall Cowasji captures the sea waters, the locales and human emotions in a manner that enhances the tension in-built in storytelling. Theme music by Achint Thakkar is always a winner.

The setting is 2016. The series, which revolves around the hijacking of a Ukrainian ship, focuses on the pirates, the ship’s largely Indian crew and those responsible for the turn of unfortunate events. While most of the pirates are ready to shoot with or without provocation, the sibling twist humanises them. Expectedly, sea raiders are not the only ‘Lootere’ here. The line, ‘Rather than being a servant in heaven, it’s better to be a king in hell’ by Vikrant Gandhi (Vivek Gomber), an Indian settled in Somalia, tells you what men do for greed. Looking to be re-elected as president of the Somalian port authority, this family man with a young son and lovely wife (Amruta Khanvilkar) is certainly a businessman with few scruples. To promote his business interests, violence too becomes a means to an end for him. While the series is likely to build upon the face-off between major players, many of whom are quintessentially lootere, the two episodes stand on the force of dramatic tension. At one level, the series is a survival drama where the captain of the ship (a resolute Rajat Kapoor) is thinking overtime to save those aboard. The crew’s first attempt to free themselves from the clutches of pirates has so far met a wall and ended up in a casualty.

Will the crew, which bears the collateral damage of the consequences and machinations of an ignoble breed of men, emerge unscathed? What forbidden material exactly is the ship carrying that it has to be prevented from entering Somalian waters and can jeopardise Vikrant’s position in Somalia? How will Chandan Roy Sanyal’s character shape up, as the actor has already made an impressive entry in the series as an apparent baddie and business partner of Vikrant? There are many points of interest and these questions are likely to amplify your curiosity quotient.

The two episodes, with reference to a missing youth, too, have set the field wide open and are engaging, to say the least. Hopefully, the momentum generated so far will be retained. The ship of creativity has sailed well enough for you to seek out ensuing episodes every Thursday. So far, little is at sea.