Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein – now streaming on Netflix – has an inherently promising black comedy lineup at its core. In it, the daughter of a powerful politician, Purva Awasthi (Anchal Singh, from Undekhi) has set her eyes on the accountant’s real little son, Vikrant “Vicky” Singh Chauhan (Tahir Raj Bhasin, from Chhichhore) since they were kids in school. . (Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein’s premise would be creepy on several levels if you turned the whole thing around. But that’s another debate.) And because Vikrant is extremely beloved by Purva, none of the dozen accomplices and enforcers who stand for Purva is working papa, who more or less runs the city, dares to put a finger on him. Vikrant’s life is fairly well protected, although neither he nor the Netflix series benefit much from it.
That’s largely because Vikrant is – simply put – a coward. Even his dreams are purposefully small, almost as if he’s afraid that if he wanted more, the universe might take revenge or something. And that’s really what Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein is really interested in: Vikrant’s transformation. Creator, director, writer, co-producer and showrunner Sidharth Sengupta (Apharan) – whether the new Indian Netflix series goes right or wrong, there is one man to praise or blame – aims to depict the slow but inevitable descent of a man who caught between sticking to his principles and retiring from Purva’s job.
Except Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein takes too long to get there – and the journey isn’t remotely interesting or intriguing enough. Sometimes it feels like Sengupta took a movie-length story and stretched it into an eight-part first season (which ends on a cliffhanger). It’s also so strongly plot driven that it gets tiresome after a point. If a straight path is available from point A to point B, Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein will make three detours along the way. Everything is unnecessarily complicated. It wants to force its characters into awkward situations, but finds inelegant ways to get there. It’s like Sengupta writes herself in a corner and then chooses to give up, instead of finding a better route.
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When it’s not predictable – Sengupta is trying to sell us deaths that aren’t believable to begin with – it’s withholding information from the public to propel the suspense and mystery. And on more than one occasion, the new Indian Netflix series has been lying to viewers to set up the twists. And about half way through, Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein essentially jumps the shark – I can’t go into details because spoilers, except to say it’s completely illogical, but Sengupta just drives on, pretending we’re too stupid to understand. Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein in general is also frustrating because the first season has been deliberately left incomplete. Netflix does not have a good track record of green-lighting future seasons of its Indian original series; it’s possible we may never see the wires wrapped up.
Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein, set in a nondescript fictional Uttar Pradesh town called Onkara, opens with a Othello quote, but unrelated to Shakespeare’s play. The Netflix series revolves around the aforementioned Vikrant (Bhasin) whose voiceover in the first episode takes us through his early life to the present day. The threat that is Purva has ruined his childhood, Vikrant claims, because she was always after him. His fortunes changed after she left the city mid-school – Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein never tells us why – before Vikrant met and fell instantly in love with Shikha (Shweta Tripathi Sharma, in a thankless role) during his college days. The love story of Vikrant and Shikha is told entirely through song; Shikha is less of a character and more of a Vikrant prop.
But all that goes for a throw in Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein after Purva (Singh) returns to Onkara. After Vikrant’s accountant father Suryakant Singh Chauhan (Brijendra Kala, of The Aam Aadmi Family) prompts him to work for his master, the infamous politician Akheraj Awasthi (Saurabh Shukla, of Jolly LLB), Vikrant finds himself in Purva’s orbit again. pushed. And this time it’s like being sucked into a black hole. Purva quickly wins over the Chauhans by making her father pay Vikrant much more than his Bhilai engineering job (all for managing Zumba dance classes she teaches, humiliating him in the process) and Vikrant’s sister (Hetal Gada, from Dhanak) a job too. Purva tries to trap them all. And while Vikrant tries to get herself out of her thumb, in response she makes the family’s life hell.
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Still, Vikrant wants nothing to do with Purva – after all, Shikha and he want each other too – and he does little to hide it. Why then does Purva insist that Vikrant become his own? Because he’s the only one who didn’t want her in school. The woman who is the instigator reverses the traditional man-stalking-girl form (which has been deeply romanticized by Bollywood), although it is nevertheless the man who does more damage to Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein. Maybe that’s one way for Sengupta to comment on how men just feel about themselves, how men are the worst. It’s Vikrant’s actions — or rather inaction (plus flip-flip choices) — that get Shikha and her family into more trouble than Vikrant and his family have to deal with. It is Shikha who has to humble himself because of Vikrant.
Some of this could have Gone Girl-esque vibes if Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein knew what it was doing. But alas, that is too much to be expected. Tonally, the new Indian Netflix series can be seen everywhere. There is randomly goofy comedy infused in places. Sometimes it gives in to the mood of the occasion and forgets about the mood of the character. It increases the dynamics between characters to fit the story and completely ignores what it accomplished in different episodes. What’s more annoying is that most of the characters are stationary and don’t grow. Of course Vikrant’s arc is the deepest – but you only feel that because Sengupta deals such a bad hand to everyone else. Except for Vikrant, the rest just exist to advance the plot.
And it doesn’t help that Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein operates in a very heightened reality. On some level it is a bizarre comedy, but wrapped in an intense drama. One character comes up with a crazy plan, before forcing other characters to join in, which in turn pushes the Netflix series to a more absurd level. Sometimes it feels like Sengupta is pushing himself to come up with an increasingly contrived and complicated plot – because he doesn’t know what else to do.
Moreover, Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein will do everything for effect, rather than looking at what makes sense given the situation or the characters involved. There are so many WTF moments in the new Indian Netflix series that the audience has no time to talk or react to it. (It’s a trait Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein shares with Netflix’s previous Indian thriller series, the Raveena Tandon-led Aranyak, from December last year.) You might be tempted to say that Netflix India 2022 is off to a terrible start. – but outside of a few relatively better titles, this is now the rule rather than the exception. Just look what it brought us last year.
Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein was released on Netflix on Friday, January 14 at 1:30 PM IST.
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