'Grahan' review: A hitting, relevant story marred by disintegrated script
Grahan, starring Pavan Malhotra, Zoya Hussain and Anshuman Pushkar, is now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar. The series, based on Satya Vyas's novel Chaurasi, has been directed by Ranjan Chandel. It revisits the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, its aftermath and some secrets that have still not been uncovered. A hard-hitting story with solid performances by the cast gets bogged down by scattered scripting. Here's our review.
Amrita Singh (Hussain), an honest police officer, is on the verge of resigning the force because she is tired of the bureaucracy that doesn't allow her to do her job. But she gets chosen to head a Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed to investigate pending cases from the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. It is then she encounters her father's secret, which makes her question everything.
The story is as much about the riots as it is about the love story between Rishi (Anshuman Pushkar) and Manu (Wamiqa Gabbi). A rejection by her father, and Rishi makes sure her house is the first one to be burned down by the rioters looking to avenge PM Indira Gandhi's death. Some sequences make you sick in your stomach, and make hard-hitting commentary.
Moving between two timelines, 30 years apart, is done masterfully, but the script sometimes starts to meander. The eight-part-long series, with a run-time of 50 minutes, per episode could have been made much tighter. The story in itself reveals a lot about the past that many generations don't know, and also manages to connect it to the present culture of WhatsApp-fueled mobs.
In this recent OTT wave, we have seen digital content producers doing exceptional work with camera, light, and sounds. Grahan lacks in that aspect, as camera-work is basic and the background score seems overdone and over-dramatic at many places.
Amrita's internal struggle between her love for her father and her duty is brilliantly portrayed by Hussain. Veteran actor Malhotra once again proved his mettle in both his guilty silences and the moment he breaks down and accepts the many murders he orchestrated. Pushkar as a young Rishi commands screen and intimidates you. Sahidur Rahman's posture could put any police academy-trained officer to shame.
Even with the loopholes, the show does a commendable job of handling a sensitive subject and tries to give an accurate depiction of how people were paid to kill Sikhs and how almost all survivors still await justice. It also makes subtle commentary along with gritty and nuanced performances. It is a must-watch to remind oneself of a dark past. Verdict: 3/5 stars.