Thematically, Kaala Paani has a very enticing premise that smartly uses the history of the unexplored Andaman and Nicobar Islands to create a compelling story about survival against an epidemic set in the near future. While the recurring placement of dilemma in making a decision keeps us hooked on to the content, there is a sense of predictability to the narrative that, at points, drags the series a bit too much. With procedural facts in a fictional future blending somewhat neatly, I found Kaala Paani enjoyable in parts.
The story is set in 2027, and it is happening in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Dr. Soudamini Singh has detected the possibility of a deadly virus spreading on the island. However, the authorities who wanted to support an ongoing tourism fest decided not to help her as her theory had no solid proof. But soon, Soudamini’s hunch proved correct, and an epidemic started in the form of rashes that spread through the water. With the Lieutenant Governor wanting to not involve the mainland in resolving the issue, things became tricky for the authorities as they needed a solution for this situation. The efforts to save people and find a cure for this virus are what we see in Kaala Paani.
Written by Biswapati Sarkar, Nimisha Misra, Sandeep Saket, and Amit Golani, you can see the series constantly trying to emphasize the dilemma in our nature protection ideology. In a scene towards the end, when the policeman eventually finds out the reason for the virus breakout, the antagonist, a corporate biggie, counters him with questions that make him speechless as it exposes our double standards. There are moments in the series similar to this where the moral and ethical predicament in dealing with such sensitive situations complicates things. For me, the series worked in those areas. On the other hand, you have numerous subplots that explore the personal tracks of many characters, which looked forcefully sentimental and, at times, very cliched.
Sukant Goel, whom I remember from Kapoor & Sons, has a very prominent role in this film as Chiranjeevi. And I liked how he transitioned from that rough and needy guy to someone who discovered himself very late. If Netflix gives the series a chance, Chiranjeevi would be one interesting character to look forward to. Arushi Sharma, as Jyotsna, gets a very memorable character with a good amount of screen time. Amey Wagh, as ACP Ketan Kamat, was a very peculiar character with this very eccentric style of arrogance. The character is so unpredictable that even when the season ends with a sympathetic gaze toward him, you are still kind of clueless about his real version.
Vikas Kumar, who was there in Aarya, is there in the series as this father character, Santosh, and the performance is really fabulous. The survival acts the character does are pulled off quite brilliantly by Vikas. Director Ashutosh Gowariker, who played the LG of the islands, was also an interesting choice, and he portrayed the sensitivity of that character quite effectively. One character I particularly liked in the whole series was Dr. Ritu Gagra, played by Radhika Mehrotra. Even though the writing was a bit bloated in some areas in establishing that character, the performance covered up those flaws to an extent. Poornima Indrajith, Chinmay Mandlekar, Rajesh Khattar, Payash Jain, Aradhya Ajana, Mona Singh, etc., are the other major names in the cast.
In terms of the visual craft, Sameer Saxena has managed to build that eerie ambiance around a deadly epidemic. The visuals that shuttle between forests and hospitals form a visual texture that creates tension inside the viewers. The hiccups are majorly caused by the typical writing elements in the series that sort of sustain too much on certain moments. SPOILER ALERT! If you look at the track of Chiranjeevi, for example, there is a moment where we, as an audience, get a clear indication of his character’s origin. But the writing decides to hold that suspense for way too long. And in the flashback bits of the characters Ritu and Jyotsna it feels very formulaic, and at times, it consumes so much space that you feel like skipping it to know what’s happening in the present day. Somewhere, I think the series format cliches are sort of becoming evident, and the long-format writing should address the fact the viewers are evolving and predicting the stories.
Kaala Paani is definitely not a dull or unoriginal creation. It definitely has moments that will keep you interested in the development of the plot. However, the graph is a little bit inconsistent as it has this narrative style of establishing characters and their personal survival stories through flashbacks. It is one of those series where, even though you aren’t entirely pleased with the outcome, you are curious to know what happens after that and wait for a season 2.
It is one of those series where, even though you aren't entirely pleased with the outcome, you are curious to know what happens after that and wait for a season 2.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended