Sunflower, the new ZEE5 original series created by Vikas Bahl, is a bloated thriller with no real focus. Bahl and co-director Rahul Sengupta want to create a society of characters. Yet, for a major part of the series, they seem to be uninterested in addressing the fact that the primary layer of the series is a murder mystery. With a daily soap kind of staging and character development, Sunflower is a dragged thriller that just goes on and on without creating any sort of curiosity.
So the story is set in the backdrop of a housing society named Sunflower. Sonu Singh is one of the flat owners, and he lives alone. Sonu is working in the sales department of a cosmetic company, and he is this loner who is desperately looking for a partner. A murder happens in that housing society, and we are shown at the beginning itself who has done that crime. The police investigation to find the killer and how it affects the life of Sonu Singh is what we see in Sunflower.
Vikas Bahl has created numerous subplots and characters in the series for sure. But he couldn’t attach each of them to the main thread gracefully. For example, there is a bit in the series where Sonu is trying to impress a girl in his office, and when things finally work out for him, that whole subplot feels like an exaggerated advertisement of one of those men’s body spray. There is another subplot featuring the neighbor of Sonu, which ends up giving a weak reason for the makers to create a second season. This stark difference between the murder investigation and the attention-seeking lifestyle of Sonu makes the series bland on a treatment level.
Sunil Grover, who plays the main lead Sonu Singh in the series, is somehow a toned-down version of the kind of roles he used to present in the TV shows. The layer of mystery they wish to add to this character is clearly not working because of the sequences they have created to utilize the humor bits of Grover. Ranvir Shorey as the focused police officer DG was effective. Girish Kulkarni gets to play another stereotypical corrupt bad cop. Mukul Chadha as the neighbor, Mr. Ahuja, delivers a memorable performance. Radha Bhatt, Shonali Nagrani, Saloni Khanna are some of the main female characters, and every female character is presented as this lust-driven opportunist. Ashish Vidhyarthi was fine as the old school sanskari society head, Dilip Iyer.
In terms of craft, there is hardly any noticeable thing here in this series. The scattered script that deviates from topic to topic is a major letdown. They have added this track of society interview to show the narrow-mindedness of the people who run these housing societies. But it had no natural blend with the main narrative and what you see is some unnecessarily added comedy bites that don’t contribute to the whole story. Some of the twists and the twisted characters here will remind you of those exaggerated daily soaps. Towards the end, when you finally see the police tracking down the culprit on the basis of unconvincing evidence, the climax starts to feel like a lamely written one. The flat lighting in the cinematography has no element of drama in it. Some of the cross cuts in the series, especially towards the final episodes, have no regard for emotional continuity, and they are randomly inserting any of the subplots.
Sunflower is trying to address too many things and yet wants to have this outer look of a murder mystery. But Vikas Bahl and Rahul Sengupta can’t really show us the loneliness of their hero or the greyness in the lives of the people involved in the murder compellingly. There were times in the series where I felt certain tracks are added only because the contract might have demanded them to create a minimum of 8 episodes.
With a daily soap kind of staging and character development, Sunflower is a dragged thriller that just goes on and on without creating any sort of curiosity.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended