First Week Review: Anurag Kashyap’s Yudh
Days of Yore and Yudh’s first outing
The days of yore when watching Hindi serials was a week family gateway and an intelligent affair that many Indians across the globe were proud of. Remember Buniyaad, Banegi Apni Baat, Tara, Dekh Bhai Dekh,Tehkikaat, Just Mohabbat, Shanti-to a certain extent and Hum Paanch on the idiot Box. Against all odds, Tsunami strikes one day when someone called Ekta Kapoor came with a plate full of non-sensical dish, embedded with ingrained patriarchy to steal the joy of intelligent television.
The generation of 80s and 90s must be cursing their luck that the golden days of TV is gone and buried at the sight of crap unfurled on the powerless audience with the typical Saas-Bahu, dragged endlessly to fool the audience. A twinge of hope, may be, with an intelligent soap opera like Yudh, conceptualized by the man who revolutionized sensible cinema, Anurag Kashyap.
Sensibility, Intelligence and Indian Soap Operas?
As Week One of the serial nears completion, my verdict of Yudh is that it is a sensible and coming-of-age soap opera that is set to pave the way for intelligent TV viewership churned out. Sensible, did I say that? With crass, ridiculous and out-of-the world patriarchy and sexism flying like sauce pan in the name of TV serials, the potato couch been getting lazy every single day. For me, Yudh is one TV serial that is innovative to the point where the pragmatic audience will relate to the whole concept and characters. There is a detailed script, brilliant characterization where there is no stone left for over acting or crying in distress for some reason or another, shedding bucket loads of tears. Thank God, the female characters don’t shout in desperation with, ‘Nahin!!! Nahin!!!!’. I wonder how religious followers of Saas-Bahu can cope or bear such tears rolling like the river of Ganga or Arabian Sea.
Before I digress, let me come to the point. Yudh is played by Amitabh Bachchan (Yuddhistir Sikarwar) a real estate honcho who is married to Gauri, first wife (Sarika) and Nayantara (Ayesha Raza). He is embroiled with his business rivals and is afflicted with Huntington, a psychological disorder that leaves him few years to live.
Narrative, Characterization and Amitabh Bachchan
The best thing is that Amitabh Bachchan gives a very restrained performance as Yudh and credit goes to Anurag Kashyap for scripting the character in an efficient manner. Bachchan’s portrayal of Yudh is effortless and a delight to watch which leaves little scope for hero worship since he is weak at times owing to the disease and family issues. The dichotomy of a character is cleverly scripted by Anurag Kashyap, Mrinalini Khanna and Ribhu Dasgupta. Yudh is no saint neither he is the most powerful man who cannot cheat evil, death and circumstances. Yudh is today’s story on what goes in the corporate world-conspiracies, veiled attacks and the power of money. Bachchan gives a new shape and aura to his personality and his costumes, body language gel well with the character.
Mona (Mona Wasu) as Yudh’s PR is effective and quintessential as today’s modern woman who takes no crap and lends credibility to her character. Zakir Hussain (Anand Upadhyay) Yudh’s associate, Aahana Kumra as Taruni (Yudh’s daughter) and KK Menon (Commissioner) complete the innovative project by delivering power packed performances. Sarika as Yudh’s second wife may not have lots of scenes in the first week but acts competently.
The best thing about Yudh is that it’s all about personalities who are not flawless or pure like milk. Conspiracies, extra-marital affairs and yeah, I’ve heard, a lesbian love angle is shaping up which justifies the deftly-woven. There is no justification for perfection in the corporate world and morally upright relationships in this coming-of-age opera. This is the best thing about Yudh. It’s after ages we are dabbling with an intelligent soap opera that may woke up the Indian audience out of its deep slumber.
What doesn’t work in Yudh’s favor? Despite the criticisms, I didn’t find the first episode slowly and patchy. The slow narration comes in episode three where the pace slows at times. There are quite a few repetitive scenes with Yudh visiting his psychologist every now and then. His his spasm of fits makes it a boring and irritating affair. Despite the idea of a joker over-powering Yudh is an innovative idea, I find its bobbed act too repetitive and tad boring. Moreover, the Nikhil-Mamta romance should have further explored and carried during the next few episodes to to build the interest, making it more gripping. The murder of Mamta as the unfaithful wife happens abruptly. Wishful thinking? High time to depict a romance relationship with a certain level of intimacy and sensuality. Yeah, Indian TV needs to grow up with aesthetic love making scenes. Yudh fails in this area.
Gripping Narrative, Riveting and Powerful Performances
Despite the minuses, Yudh stands out as a top-notch vision of television with Amitabh Bachchan delivering a seething and power-packed punch. Yudh concept makes the whole difference with its riveting and engrossing, crisp narrative as well as actors doing complete justice to their characters. Amitabh Bachchan changed the way Television was viewed in India with Kaun Banega Crorepati and hope operas like Yudh and Anil Kapoor’s 24 will bring us back to the hay days. Intelligently woven episodes not exceeding a span of 20 to 24 episodes will make it a pleasant affair to watch on TV. Let’s give back the moment of glory to Indian Television. Or else, it will be a real tragedy.