Kaala Review | A Consistently Engaging Thriller With an Impressive Character Pool

Kaala, the new series from Bejoy Nambiar, is dealing with the enormous task of presenting a story that has happened over multiple decades. It is an ambitious attempt to pull off a subject that needs to have conviction. In totality, I was really impressed by the way Bejoy and his team of writers managed to make it a more emotional and character-driven drama than a series with too much violence. With almost every character managing to register their journey, Kaala was one earnest effort that created its world very convincingly.

SPOILER ALERT! The story shuttles between multiple decades, and we have this present-day track featuring IB officer Ritwik Mukherjee, who is trying to build a case against this soaring businessman named Naman Arya. In a flashback track, we see the story of Ritwik’s father, Subhendu Mukherjee, who was considered a traitor after he escaped from an attack in which the rest of his team got shot dead. How Subhendu Mukherjee’s efforts to prove his innocence and Ritwik’s attempt to expose Naman Aryan intertwine is what we see in Kaala.

On the periphery, it is this heroic story of an IB officer trying to expose a humungous nexus that deals in unimaginable levels of black money. But what makes it compelling is the way it adds flesh to the basic idea by creating a vast and detailed backstory. The decision to narrate the present and past in parallel tracks kind of makes the content look gripping on the outside. And, like I said, it extensively explores the characters to put us in a morally complex situation. Almost the first 6 episodes of the 8-episode series are maintaining a mystery around the nexus. While fewer flashback cuts exist in the last 2 episodes, the surprises around already-established characters make it even more intriguing.

Like all his other creations, Bejoy Nambiar follows this visually intense approach to narrate the series. You can’t see too many wide shots in his process, and to make the visuals look compelling, Bejoy makes DOP Siddharth Srinivasan put cameras on the corners of the front visors of helmets. The saturated medium shot frames with the camera constantly on the move create the tension the story demands. As I said, the detailing with which the tale approaches almost every vital character keeps us interested in the series. The series’s main antagonist has a very clear motive, which the hero doesn’t know, but we, as an audience, know. I could guess the identity of the antagonist almost in the second episode of the series, and the makers keeping it in suspense for nearly 5 episodes felt like a flaw. The bankers’ “comedy” track featuring director Vinil Mathew was also a bit odd.

Avinash Tiwary, who had another release this week in Bambai Meri Jaan, has managed to create a very distinctive look and ruggedness for the character of Ritwik. We see him as this wounded fighter from the beginning of the series, and the guy pulls off the gradual transition of the character convincingly. Rohan Mehra as Subhendu Mukherjee was fine in his character, even though seeing a 32-year-old play a 60+ guy was sometimes a bit bothering. Nivetha Pethuraj, as the Tamilian IB officer Sitara, gets a juicy character who plays a vital role in the crucial climactic episodes of the series. Anil Charanjeett, Danish Aslam, and Elisha Mayor are some of the other performers with prominent space in the series. The real surprise, by the way, was Jitin Gulati, who was super solid as the vulnerable, violent, and determined antagonist of the series. He utilizes the spectacular range the script offers, and his portrayal never feels gimmicky.

Too much is happening in Kaala at various points in the timeline, giving the audience an elaborate amount of details to create a story around each character. The last 20 minutes of the final episode show us various styles of closure to the multiple emotional tracks it opened during the course of the story, ranging from the hero to the villain. If you like the visual storytelling style of Bejoy Nambiar, I think this series will work for you primarily because of the way it constructed characters with depth despite them having minimal screen time.

Final Thoughts

If you like the visual storytelling style of Bejoy Nambiar, I think this series will work for you primarily because of the way it constructed characters with depth despite them having minimal screen


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.