PariWar review: A talented ensemble cast is wasted in this witless six-part family comedy
Gajraj Rao, Ranvir Shorey, Yashpal Sharma, Nidhi Singh, and Vijay Raaz work some punch into the lifeless material.
A series with such a talented ensemble cast piques one’s interest, but the cleverest thing about this six-part comedy is the title. It says it all – PariWar is literally about domestic squabble within a family.
Kashiram Narayan (Gajraj Rao) has three children. His two sons Mahipal/Badke (Yashpal Sharma), based in Varanasi, and Shishupal/ Chotke (Ranvir Shorey), based in Mumbai, are constantly at loggerheads. The youngest, Mandakini (Nidhi Singh), works as a chef in America. The three rush back to Prayagraj when they learn that their ageing father is in a serious condition and admitted to hospital.
On arriving there, with families in tow, they learn that their father has promised a large tract of land to a smarmy theatre actor called Gangaram (Vijay Raaz) in order to make a widows/widowers’ home. Battle lines get blurred, as the feuding brothers become allies, and then opponents once more. Property and inheritance are at the core of the conflict which Mandakini/Guddan, the youngest, is largely immune to. She is far more focused on rekindling a childhood romance with male nurse Munna (Abhishek Banerjee), who happens to be Gangaram’s son.
But Kashiram is no fool. Along with his trusted man Friday Babloo (Kumar Varun), Kashiram has cooked up an elaborate plot to make his offspring realise the true value of family. A patriarch faking his death to straighten up his family’s priorities is an oft-used device, and needed to be reinvented. Or at least the humour required a shot of originality and wit.
Director Sagar Ballary is best known for directing the comedy Bheja Fry back in 2007. He directs PariWar, which is based on a script by Gaganjeet Singh and Shantanu Anam. An ensemble with this kind of acting experience, including Anurita Jha and Sadiya Siddiqui (as the wives of Badke and Chotke respectively), deserved smarter writing and more imaginative direction.
Several of the scenes have the actors staying in fixed positions till they move out of frame. Some scenes are directed like a stage play. The climax is particularly theatrical with every small or big actor present on set, as if ready for a final curtain call.
Locating the story in Prayagraj is also an obvious metaphor with one character even mentioning the ‘sangam’ or the point of confluence of the three rivers.
Mandakini’s character is also given short shrift. From an independent working woman, living in America, she rapidly embraces the attention of an old flame.
As the lonely, wealthy and aging father, Rao is assigned a ridiculous wig and handed over a sketchily written part that under-utilises his range. Babloo stands out as one of the more interesting characters. He is a companion to Kashinath, a confidante to Mandakini and a narrator for the audience. Kumar Varun handles all these dimensions with much-needed lightness.
Shorey, Sharma, Singh, and Raaz work some punch into the lifeless material, which barely offers a smartly written scene or gag for either the actors or the audience to relish.
PariWar is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.
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