Flesh, directed by Danish Aslam and created by Siddharth Anand is a mixed bag when you look at the total package of the series. A major chunk of this series has it trying to look like a unique and bold take by showing us extremely brutal visuals. But the show that went on production towards the end of 2018 now looks a bit dated in terms of the way the screenplay gets developed. I have been seeing a lot of dark and gritty series’ off late and that experience kind of makes Flesh a guessable yet engaging crime thriller.
ACP Radha Nautiyal of the Mumbai Police is our central protagonist. She is this badass cop who has specialized in human trafficking cases and has a really bad record for injuring the accused. At one point, this issue gets her suspended from the force, and in the meantime, a kidnapping case of a girl who belonged to a high profile NRI family gets reported at the station. The inefficiency of the police department forces the father of the missing girl to seek the unofficial help of Radha to find his daughter. And Flesh is ultimately showing us that unofficial assignment of Radha.
Kids are brutally killing someone who tortured them, we get to see a beheaded body, fingers are getting cut and women and children are getting raped. I am just saying all this to give you a rough idea of the brutality one will have to see in this series (Not at all for the faint-hearted). I don’t have an opinion that any of these gory or unfortunate visuals were used to titillate the viewer in any way. If we look at the aid Radha gets in the story to move on with clues and leads, it’s not completely coherent. But at the same time, it has that remotely plausible feel which we are kind of okay when it is a fictional thriller. The way Danish Aslam has handled the visual storytelling part keeps it in that engaging phase.
The writing by Pooja Ladha Sruti who has co-written movies like Andhadhun and Badlapur has two parallel tracks. Even though we are not given any specific clues about the link between the two tracks, by the second or third episode, one can kind of guess that link. Maybe Pooja did it on purpose as the last-minute twist in both those narratives kind of managed to surpass the possible amount of cringe we might feel. The character building is also done in a convincing extensive way. Through small snippets of flashbacks, we are shown how the past of many characters has a link with the whole plot.
The conventional style of building a villain gets a tweak when we get a picture of who he was in the past. It’s that interesting interpretation, where we see how people from similar backdrops can end up in diametrically opposite poles. Yes, the coincidence level in the final act is way too high, but the intricate approach to that penultimate moment kind of reduced the lameness of seeing a cliché. The characters are given some space to establish themselves. On the negative, we do get to see some chasing down sequences that rely heavily on the sophisticated setup that feels a bit lazy. And the writing here feels like a constant tussle against predictability.
Swara Bhaskar as Radha is one believable arrogant cop. She doesn’t have any concern about the kind of validation she gets from others. It might feel like the makers are creating an outgoing cussing character just for the sake of making her look rough, but there is a sensible past to that character which sort of justifies Radha’s character. Akshay Oberoi plays the role of the Flesh trade henchman Taj in a convincing way. Even though it is largely a monotonous character, there are subtle variations in his portrayal. Mahima Makwana as Zoya, Vidya Malwade as Reba, Yudhishtir as Shekhar, Sidhant Behl as Naman, and Uday Tikekar as Shuvo Chattopadhyay is aptly cast as those important characters in the story.
Flesh is definitely an engaging thriller that gives you something to look forward to at the end of every episode. Ultimately it has clichés, loose ends, and a sense of familiarity in the elements one sees in the writing. With an average duration of roughly 40 minutes per episode, this 8 episode series is a passable thriller for those who can handle gory visuals.
With an average duration of roughly 40 minutes per episode, this 8 episode series is a passable thriller for those who can handle gory visuals.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended