Mum Bhai review: Angad Bedi's crime series is an amalgamation of every Indian gangster movie ever
Perhaps Mum Bhai would have been more involving if the suspense had been sustained, the screenplay not dipped in and out of past and present, and the writing committed itself to a modicum of heart.
Bhaskar Shetty (Angad Bedi) is an ATS officer celebrated for his encounter killing record. Engulfed by conceit, he commissions a director to make a movie on his life. After watching a trial screening, Shetty gives the filmmaker two notes: include an item number and add seeti-maar (whistle-worthy) dialogue.
The entire 12-episode series, based on a screenplay by Apoorva Lakhia, Chintan Gandhi, Raj Vasant and Chintan Shah, is populated with such 'seeti-maar' lines, or at least that is what the dialogue writers Gandhi, Vasant, and Shah must have said to each other as they drafted this crime drama. There are also item numbers.
In sum, the story of an ambitious, arrogant, and crooked police officer is more mind-numbing than mind-blowing.
A been-there-seen-that cops-criminal-underworld story, the series had potential for hitting the mark as an involving drama.
Beyond the backstabbing, shoot-first-think-later façade, the complicated relationship dynamics and side plots, exposition, sundry characters, and under-developed relationships dilute the protagonist’s dilemma.
The show begins with an episode titled ‘Achha logo ka suraksha, criminal ka khatma’. Traversing two decades, from the 1980s, when gang wars and shootouts were making headlines, to the 2000s, we follow a teenage Bhaskar as he comes to Mumbai where Rama (Sikander Kher), a small-time criminal, mentors him.
Bhaskar grows up to join the police force, where he is soon inducted into the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) under the leadership of officer Karekar (Sameer Dharmadhikari), who has a ‘no arrest, bullet only’ philosophy.
Mum Bhai has the bedrock for a complex portrait of an arrogant, power-hungry police officer with a license to kill, who allies with power-broking journalists, politicians, and gangsters to further his aspirations. To underline this point, note the title of episode 3: ‘Bhaskar Shetty - Naam Yaad Rakhna’. Bhaskar sets himself up for a collision course that will be lined with a robust body count.
Perhaps the duplicity and moral conflicts would have been more involving if the suspense had been sustained, the screenplay not dipped in and out of past and present, and the writing committed itself to a modicum of heart.
At a time when OTT platforms are offering space to competent performers and technicians, it is disappointing to see a show that forsakes the opportunity to up the ante. Tacky make-up, lazy action scenes, and scant regard for period correctness with customary performances, Mum Bhai is a patchy compendium of every Indian gangster movie ever made.
Mum Bhai is streaming on ALTBalaji and ZEE5.
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