Ekkadiki Ee Parugu review: A convoluted web series with fine performances from Aryan Rajesh, Pavani Gangireddy
Ekkadiki Ee Parugu, created and directed by Abhilash Reddy, was clearly intended to be a feature film when it was conceived, until the lure of digital medium turned it into a web series
Ekkadiki Ee Parugu, created and directed by Abhilash Reddy, was clearly intended to be a feature film when it was conceived, until the lure of the digital medium turned it into a web series. No wonder, it packs in several unnecessary elements that almost derail its narrative, especially in the first season. It doesn’t take too long to figure it out that Abhilash was facing an uphill task to create a ‘bang’ at the end of each episode which will make you want to know what happens next. The good thing is, your patience is handsomely rewarded in the second season of the series when it all begins to make sense. But until the end of the first season, Ekkadiki Ee Parugu feels like the director has an interesting story to tell, but isn’t ready to reveal anything yet. In other words, this would have been a gripping feature film sans all its ‘digital-friendly’ elements.
The premise is intriguing and has plenty of potential. Madhur Anand (Shashank), a popular chef, files a police complaint that his wife, Vaishnavi (Pavani), has gone missing. The police officer (Aryan Rajesh) suspects foul play, but he doesn’t know if he has enough clues to suspect anyone yet. When he begins to investigate the case, things go terribly wrong when he discovers that Madhur Anand might be lying. If this isn’t enough, Madhur himself sets out to unravel the mystery about Vaishnavi’s life just before her death. The rest of the story is about whether Madhur killed Vaishnavi, or was it someone else? And what were the circumstances that led to her death? Or was it a murder?
The landscape of Telugu web series is still in a nascent stage and right now, there is no specific framework about how to pull off a web series effectively. In Ekkadiki Ee Parugu, there are remnants of several investigative dramas that have become a staple diet on Netflix and other streaming sites. There’s a cop, who’s about to retire soon because of his ill-health. He’s under medication and the doctors tell him, repeatedly, to not stress himself too much. Madhur Anand himself is a prototype of a hero who intentionally misleads everyone for greater good. His wife, Vaishnavi, has a bunch of her own issues which she isn’t ready to talk about. You can see the intent and what the web series tries to be, but at the same time, it is plagued with numerous problems. It doesn’t fall into a rhythm until much later in its overall narrative. The supporting cast looks terribly out of place, but the most annoying segment in the whole series, spanning 12 episodes, has to be a subplot revolving around a gang of kidnappers. The slapstick comedy is jarring and it takes the whole focus away from the actual narrative. Then, there’s a sub-subplot involving a prostitute which complicates the series further. There are guns, drugs, land-grabbing, politics. And above all, there’s the motherly sentiment, which is the core essence of any Telugu family drama saga. For a change, the sentiment has been cleverly used to build an interesting backstory to a key character in the story.
Shashank, who plays Madhur Anand, is good in his role, and it’s not his fault why he looks so lost in the initial portions of the series, where the writing is mediocre and confused about what it wants to say. His characterisation comes across as inconsistent rather than that of a hapless man who has been pushed into a corner. But gradually things improve for both Shashank and the series itself. Once the first season establishes Shashank’s unflinching motive to crack the mystery behind his wife’s death, everything begins to slowly fall into place in the second season. Then, there’s Aryan Rajesh, who plays a brooding cop trying to come to terms with a personal loss. He drinks way too much tea and even pops his pills along with a cup of tea. Maybe it’s not the guns or bullets, at one point you begin to wonder, his health will definitely go for a toss because of all those cups of tea. His role and performance gets better as a story progresses. Pavani Gangireddy is a revelation and easily the best of the lot in the entire series. Her frustration, fear, and desperation comes through in every scene that she’s part of, and it’s her emotional breakdown that drives the whole series forward. Kalpika shines in a brief but important role. Rajath Varakavi is impressive as Raghav, a gangster, who loves reading books and spouts profound lines.
In the end, you can’t help but feel that Ekkadiki Ee Parugu would have been better as a film; however, it salvages itself in the final stretch as a web series. The backstories of Vaishanvi and Raghav anchor the series and give enough material for others to work with. Perhaps, this is the story that Abhilash Reddy, writer and director, wanted to tell. The bigger mystery about Ekkadiki Ee Parugu is why it takes such a convoluted journey when it did, in fact, have a few strong characters and a conflict between them. Maybe it wasn’t just Madhur Anand who was misleading the cops about Vaishnavi, Abhilash Reddy was essentially doing the same thing with the viewers. The series wobbles a lot in terms of its narrative and the staging and performances in quite a few scenes is amateurish, but it surprisingly works well in its emotional scenes.
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