Dark 7 White review: Sumeet Vyas' show is thoroughly convinced about its inability to engage with the viewer
The ALTBalaji and ZEE5 show could have passed off as pulpy if it somehow managed to even exhibit the minimum IQ points for a 'political thriller.'
If the word 'wannabe' was morphed into a show, it would probably resemble Dark 7 White. The show, starring Sumeet Vyas, Nidhi Singh, and Jatin Sarna among others, is so thoroughly convinced about its inability to hook a viewer with its story, that it opens with a close-up of a cigarette and a semi-clad woman tying the laces of her blouse. And if you thought that would be the most agonising part of the show, you probably were not ready for Vyas's smug, annoying, beyond-the-grave voiceover.
Vyas plays the role of Yudhvir Singh, a self-proclaimed 'blue-blood', who goes around making pretentious comparisons like "Sapne aur sex," "politics aur porn," and "black hole and asshole." They all come in pairs, and Vyas delivers such a laughably hammy (minus any of the awareness) performance from the first frame, that one is almost happy when his character is bumped off within the first 15 minutes. But then, you have the flashbacks and the voiceover to endure. Grrrr.
The writers fill the show with tokenism, which only proves to be largely counterproductive. The gang of college kids surrounding Singh includes a gay couple (played by Kunj Anand and Shekhar Chaudhary), who make it a point to indulge in passionate lovemaking, with the stereo system blaring 'Bheege Honth Tere.' As the student politicians on the campus, these boys do not even bat an eyelid before offering their political support to Yudhvir after the simplest of manoeuvres. The gang also consists of two women, who Yudhvir "uses" as per his convenience. Neelu (Monica Chaudhary) is an alibi for a murder. Another one (Madhurima Roy) is simply told to participate in a sex tape to defame a political rival, to which she readily agrees. But because these are both "independent" women in the lexicon of the writers, they drop multiple F-bombs, get drunk, and agonise about how they feel used... only to remain within the toxic proximity of Vyas's character, to repeat the cycle of abuse several times over. All these characters are one-note functions in the hands of the showrunner, who are not afforded the slightest bit of soul or humanity. They do not have a mind of their own, and they merely aid what the writer considers a good 'twist' or 'revelation.'
Singh’s entire college gang become suspects when he is killed on his way to his swearing-in ceremony as the chief minister of Rajasthan. As the flashbacks reveal, each of them had a motive to kill him. But what starts as a 'whodunnit,' very quickly turns into a 'whoreallycares.' Vyas as a (young) Singh goes around parading the college campus with a marijuana joints, and sporting long hair and a beard. It is almost like Vyas' character is simultaneously trying to co-opt and violate the Charles Manson persona. Every second question to this character is met with "Do you know who my Dadaji is?" and "Do you know I'm royalty?." And when he is really trying to spice things up, he says profound things like "Bro, you're talking to a prince!"
So deluded is this character that at one point we hear him wishing that his death would have been because of a sniper rifle. "I would have joined the ranks of assassinations like JFK, instead of having my throat slit by an ultra-thin wire. So lame," he says, at which point even the viewer wishes that they would not be subjected to every thought that runs through Yudhvir's dim-witted head.
The show has Sarna playing arguably the most incompetent police investigator of all time. Sarna tries to have some fun by injecting humour in seemingly tense situations, which he did so successfully during the first season of Sacred Games. When an interrogation is interrupted because a lady constable has come to collect her dabba, Sarna's character says, "Haven't you guys seen Hollywood films with those intense interrogation scenes? Have you seen any of those being interrupted because of somebody's lunch?" Apart from this one borderline-funny moment, Sarna has nothing to do except justify his character's presence using dated Mahabharata references, 'cuz his name is Abhimanyu.
Dark 7 White is also the latest in a series of Hindi films and shows, furthering the insidious agenda of implying how all sexual harassment cases are born out of "vengeful women tarnishing the image of men for an affair gone wrong." Barely a month after we saw something similar in Mirzapur 2, we see a woman go on national TV and accuse a politician of 'molestation,' even though the flashbacks prove that she consented to the affair. In the shorthand for the showrunners, you might have a TV network at your disposal, and might be best friends with upcoming politicians of the state, but are you even a female character unless you have to seal the deal with some sexual favours?
Adapted from Shweta Brijpuriya's novel Dark White, Sattwik Mohanty's show is essentially 200 minutes worth of bad decisions. Characters are bumped off for narrative conveniences, some get away with murder (because well...), and we are fed intermittent doses of explicit language and women wearing backless. It could have passed off as a pulpy show if it somehow managed to even exhibit the minimum IQ points for a 'political thriller.'
Dark 7 White is the kind of show that riffs on chess because it is 'cool,' and is also tacky enough to believe that the 'mate' in 'check-mate' has something to do with sex.
Dark 7 White is streaming on ALTBalaji and ZEE5.
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