Woot, season 2! Like Season 1, this is a good solid procedural limited series thriller. Not mind-blowingly good, no better than dozens of similar shows. But no worse either, and watching these familiar actors shift their performance style from the melodrama of Indian film work to the subtle close up style acting of TV thrillers is fun. (full index of reviews here)
Plot: pretty simple in this episode. Abhishek is a successful psychiatrist, his wife Nithya Menon is a chef, they have a large lovely home in Delhi where they live with one child, a 6 year old daughter Siya, who has diabetes and needs insulin shots regularly. Siya is taken from a birthday party shortly after a young medical student is kidnapped from the street. The first assumption is that it is a simple kidnapping for ransom, but when no call is received, the police and her parents start to look at different avenues. Human trafficking raids don’t turn her up, there is no ransom, they don’t know where she went. As the months role by, Abhishek reluctantly begins to accept that she is most likely dead since the chances of any kidnapper keeping up with the insulin shots are pretty low. Nithya refuses to think of that and pulls away from Abhishek. And then they get a video in the mail showing Siya alive, being cared for by the young medical student, including a shot of today’s paper, showing that she is still alive now. And ending with a threat that if they want Siya to stay alive, Abhishek has to find a way to kill a middle-aged Sikh man, and make his death somehow due to his sin (the Sikh man that is) of anger. Also, in the middle of it all, we see a fight in a jail in which Amit Sadh is a prisoner, stabbed, but still wins the fight. How did Amit go from a hero cop at the end of the last season to in jail this time?
I like how the “breathe” theme is woven in this time around! First, everything is always overcast and dim, giving the claustrophobic feeling of Delhi’s dangerous air pollution. But second, having it be 9 months since Siya was kidnapped is a brilliant decision. It didn’t have to be that way, they could have gotten the ransom murder call within days and the plot could still play out. But the episode takes time in the middle to let us feel the weight of all that time, the way Nithya and Abhishek increasingly cannot breathe, have lost the ability to feel free and safe and happy as they wait and wait and wait. By the time the video arrives, they watch it not with fear or excitement, but simple calm acceptance that this is the newest part of their ordeal.
Along those same lines, the specifics of the kidnapping are handled well, the writers took time to think it all through. The first thought is kidnapping for ransom, because that would be a common thing, especially a little girl taken from a big expensive birthday party. The next thought is kidnapping for human trafficking, again unfortunately a common thing the police would deal with. Too many times shows like this treat the central crime as the Crime of the Century, automatically unusual and difficult and requiring the brilliant police and stuff. Especially in the Indian context, where human trafficking and kidnap for profit are so common, it makes sense to show everyone assuming that is all that is happening here. There’s a different kind of tension that builds, as you see the first few days when everyone (police and parents) assumes this will be a semi-routine kidnapping. And then as the months pass, and the assumption is that it is a different kind of semi-routine kidnapping, no mystery, she was kidnapped because little girls can be sold for profit and she is probably dead because of her underlying condition. Abhishek and Nithya are alone in their grief by the time the months have passed, the public has forgotten he kidnapping, the police have assumed she is dead and moved on to many other similar cases, it is just the parents struggling to cope. A lessor show would have the police rush to some “master criminal” thought from the start, or make it like the media is obsessed with the story, instead of showing the reality that these kinds of kidnappings happen every day and common sense moves from ransom, to human trafficking, to death and closing the case.
Questions going into the next episode: was the medical student kidnapped just to care for Siya? Was she the target all along? Why is Amit Sadh in jail, is he undercover or is something else happening? Is Abhishek being targeted for some personal reason, or because of his professional profile which includes testifying in criminal cases?