‘Tiger on the land, crocodile in the water.’ Disney+ Hotstar’s latest crime thriller Karm Yuddh begins with this proverb in Bengal. The message is clear. Danger lurks everywhere and no one can be trusted. Directed by Ravi Adhikari, Karm Yuddh is an eight-episode series starring Satish Kaushik, Paoli Dam, Ashutosh Rana, Chandan Roy Sanyal and Pranay Pachauri in key roles.
A story set in Kolkata
The plot revolves around a ‘Roy’ family in Kolkata that owns a decades-old paper production business. The series begins with a fire accident that destroys the factory of Roy Industries in Kolkata, killing 40 workers. Only it was not an accident, but a premeditated conspiracy. This opens a can of worms in the family. As a battle for succession begins in this powerful business family, past secrets tumble out of the closet, aggravating the existing fault lines in the Roy household.
Game of thrones in the family business
Bhisham Roy (Satish Kaushik), who heads the business, comes under fire after the incident. He is being challenged by Indrani Roy (Paoli Dam), the wife of Bhisham’s younger brother Vardhaan Roy (Rajesh Khattar), who is paralysed. Indrani is vying for the top job in the company, much to Bhisham’s dislike.
The personal ambitions of Indrani and Bhisham set off an embittered game of thrones, leading to a series of crimes and backstabbing. As the episodes progress, the makers give us the backstories of the characters to put the ongoing battle of nerves into perspective.
Indrani’s Achilles’ heel in this succession war is her stepson Abhimanyu (Ankit Bisht), who is out to make things difficult for her. Then there is Abhimanyu’s college buddy Samay Shastri (Pranay Pachauri), who enters the scene to avenge the murder of his brother. His father Guru Shastri (Ashutosh Rana) is also related to the Roy family.
Strong performances but less screen time
Paoli Dam turns in a memorable performance as Indrani Roy, living up to the character of a woman in pursuit of power. Paoli’s cold stares speak volumes even in the simplest of scenes, like the one in which she is feeding her incapacitated husband. Her body language and measured dialogue delivery make Indrani very convincing.
For someone who’s associated more with comedy, Satish Kaushik is an interesting choice as a ruthless businessman who will go to any lengths to stay on top, and Kaushik delivers as expected. Ashutosh Rana brings poise and calm which are the requisites of his role. But both these actors are underutlised; they deserved more screen time.
Ankit Bisht as Abhimanyu Roy, Tara Alisha Berry as the vlogger Fiza, and Chandan Roy Sanyal as the media honcho make up a strong supporting cast. However, it’s Pranay Pachauri as Samar who is the surprise package in this show. A young man on a revenge mission, Pranay brings out the angst of a brother wronged. He has an electric screen presence that keeps you invested in his character.
What could have been better
Despite the power-packed performances, the series fails to make a lasting impact, largely because of the unnecessary subplots that drag the show. Abhimanyu’s love track is one such unwanted addition to the plot. There are also several other characters who simply flit in and out of the narrative, only to deliver a key piece to take the story forward.
The portrayal of the media is on the beaten track. The Naxal angle fails to scratch beyond the surface. From environmental concerns to illegitimate progenies, a lot of ideas have been packed into eight episodes of 40 minutes each. It becomes too much to take in, leaving one confused in the end. What would have been riveting is a neat plot focused on boardroom intrigues with less digressions.