I already did my massive SPOILERS and NO SPOILERS reviews, you can use those to discuss the show as a whole. But I know people are watching along and I don’t want them to risk spoiling others, plus it’s nice to break the discussion down a little sometimes.
Episode 1: Ashwathama
Saif is introduced as a bored struggling police officer. He’s not depressed and has no great tragedy in his life, he is just kind of a loser, overweight and with a marriage that failed. He is struggling with whether or not to lie to an inquiry board about a shooting. In the middle of all this, he gets a phone call from Nawazuddin Siddiqui who claims to have information for him, and to be calling him because he knew Saif’s father. Saif puts a trace on the signal and keeps pushing for information, finally finding Nawazuddin’s hide out and breaking in, just in time to see Nawazuddin shoot himself. Nawazuddin’s story covers his childhood watching his Brahmin father beg and his mother sleep with men for money, then arriving in Bombay and working in a Hindus only hotel before becoming a drug dealer.
The title comes from the name of a fighter in the Mahabharata whose death was reported falsely and he went on to lead the army to victory. Not sure if that is the meaning of it, that Nawazuddin lives on after death, or if there is some other meaning to the title.
It’s a slow opening episode, the modern day parts where we are seeing Saif struggle with his conscious and try to do his job feel a bit trite, like any other police show. But once Nawazuddin calls him, everything picks up, both through Nawazuddin’s performance, and the way it expands the story, seeing Saif travel around night time Bombay and seeing the flashbacks to other time periods.
This is the only time in the series that we see extensive location shooting in the city, driving through empty night time roads. And it is the only time that the two leads, Said and Nawazuddin, interact. And the only time that the two directors, Anurag filming Nawazuddin’s part and Vikramadityan filming Saif’s, interact.
Episode 2: Halahala
In the present day, the aftermath of Nawazuddin’s death plays out. Saif is removed from the case, as it being above his abilities. But Radhike Apte appears, from RAW in Delhi, having intercepted the call and being eager to investigate more. She tempts Saif to track down information on the dead woman found with Nawazuddin. Saif also, thinking back on his phone call, goes back to investigate the house again and finds a room filled with money. All over the city, the news is reported and it becomes clear that Nawazuddin was a former top mobster, long gone from the city, and his return and death are upsetting people from the police and politicians to movie stars. In the past, Nawazuddin has killed a smuggler, his first mentor, and stolen a box of gold. He loses his first partner who finds his ambitions too high, but gains another in the strong woman of his neighborhood who advises him, and the local jeweler who serves as his fence. He also goes to war for the first time, with the current gangster of the area, for control of the city’s trash. He kills his men and burns down his trash pile, before finally taking control for himself and starting his empire on trash.
The episode’s title comes from the poison that was created when the Gods churned the sea trying to create the nectar of immortality Amrita. It could be a reference to Nawazuddin as the poison that rises to the top before the sweet, or to the trash heap itself, seemingly poisoness but hiding sweet nectar. Or to something else entirely.
The present day sections are still a bit disconnected at this point, the players are being moved around the board and not connected yet. But this does have the first reveal of an actor playing a role in both past and present, Neeraj Kadi being grey haired and powerful in the present, and still a lowly inspector with dark hair, beholden to a local gangster, in the past.
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