Srijit Mukherji’s latest directorial venture, the ZEE5 web series Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke, is a tribute to the unsung heroes in the police force who put their lives on the line to keep us safe. And Srijit’s unsung heroes are women, who, on top of fighting criminals, also have to fight the battle of carving a place for themselves in the male-dominated police force.
At the heart of Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke are two female IPS officers, Kavya Iyer and Mahira Rizvi, played by Regina Cassandra and Mita Vashisht respectively. Mahira is Kavya’s boss, and the series draws much of its energy from the dynamic between the two women.
Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke begins with Kavya Iyer (Regina Cassandra), who is posted in Meghalaya, walking into an ambush during a hunt for a group of militants. After Kavya loses several members of her team in the attack, she is disgracefully transferred out. But she is steadfast in her belief that the militants were smuggling a consignment of RDX from across the border.
Kavya’s suspicions come true when the chief minister of Assam is killed in a terror attack with the smuggled explosives. The National Investigation Agency, led by Mahira Rizvi (Mita Vashisht), includes Kavya in the team to bring the perpetrators to book. The terrorists’ trail takes them across India, from Rajasthan to Kerala.
While Kavya is caught up in chasing the criminals, her personal life goes into a tailspin. Her estranged husband (Barun Sobti) wants a divorce and demands the custody of their son, Reyansh (Jihan Hodar). How Kavya juggles her career and personal life forms the main track of the series.
In the initial days of working together, Mahira dislikes Kavya but eventually starts to fall in line with her working style. She grows fond of her junior, and together Kavya and Mahira become a force to reckon with. Mita Vashisht has to make no effort to slip into the role of Kavya’s no-nonsense boss and a strong-willed woman in a workforce filled with men.
Regina has a commanding screen presence. There are times when Kavya is shot at, wounded in battle or is drawn into a fist fight, and Regina doesn’t seem to miss a beat in the action scenes. Sumeet Vyas makes for a strong antagonist as Tariq, a misguided youth trained in Syria by ISIS and radicalised by an ‘uncle’ (who doesn’t make a physical appearance on the show). Chandan Roy (of Panchayat fame) aces the bespectacled tech geek role who tracks the whereabouts of terrorists on his computer.
Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke is a tad slow and predictable but it deserves a binge for the sharp dialogues by Akhilesh Jaiswal and solid cinematography by Shanu Singh Rajput. The drone shots in the mountains and the backwaters of Kerala are breathtaking.