SonyLIV keeps hitting it out of the park. After the much-deserving success of Scam 1992 - The Harshad Mehta Story, the OTT platform might just have found its next big hit. Kathmandu Connection is a gripping thriller that keeps you on your toes as the narrative covers three parallel investigations across borders. But once you actually watch it, you see why it’s much more than just “the new thriller to binge on”.
Featuring a gamut of talented actors like Amit Sial, Gopal Datt, Aksha Pardasany and Anshumaan Pushkar, the show also managed to rope in the amazing Sneha Khanwalkar who created a eargasmic vaporwave-inspired score that almost gives the show a dystopian-cyberpunk feel as far as sound is concerned.
Here’s the trailer.
Amit Sial plays DCP Samarth Kaushik, who’s risen up the ranks in Delhi Police faster than others thanks to his skills no-nonsense ‘war on terror’ approach to work. Aksha Pardasany is brilliant as Shivani Bhatnagar, a prime-time news anchor who’s at the cusp of making it big in her career. (Fun observation: as the show is set in the early ‘90s, it’s quite refreshing to see news anchors who aren’t screaming at the camera.) And then there’s Anshumaan Pushkar, who channels his inner Chandu from Company to play Sunny, an enigmatic crime boss who’s at the center of the whole controversy in the story.
But what sets Kathmandu Connection apart from other contemporary shows in this genre is its ability to position itself like a magic trick, performed by someone who’s mastered the art of deception. A typical chase series usually involves good guys and bad guys, with clear lines drawn between them, trying to one-up each other until the climax hits. This is where Kathmandu Connection shines as it goes a step further than one-dimensional action thrillers.
The grayness of Amit Sial’s character, perfectly compliments his situation in the plot - he’s both a victim and an abuser of ‘the system’. This combined with the morally ambiguous acts of the man he’s trying to pursue, puts viewers in a strangely interesting dilemma of allegiance throughout the episodes. While at one moment you’ll be rooting for DCP Samarth Kaushik, there might be a total paradigm shift the next scene making you cheer for the other side. Can the show make you question your own moral compass? You bet it can. And it is very binge-worthy. The pacing is top-notch from the very first act of the first episode.
Writer Siddharth Mishra’s whole bait ‘n’ switch tactic works perfectly in highlighting the fact that there’s no such thing as pure good or evil. People are mostly gray, and their circumstances and choices decide where they end up. It’s true even for the viewer - who you choose to root for by the time the story ends, will say a lot about you. Don’t get us wrong - the show has everything it needs to be riveting action thriller. High octane car chases, guns blazing all around, corpses dropping like flies - Kathmandu Connection has it all, and then some.
The writers even gave much-needed depth to non-lead players, which is sort of rare in this genre. The scenes where Amit Sial and Gopal Datt share screen time will show you how the talent in today’s digital medium can give hardcore Bollywood actors a run for their money. Even Zakir Hussain’s short but memorable portrayal of Mirza Baig highlights the range of this highly underrated character actor.
Finally, can we please talk about the talent behind the score, Sneha Khanwalkar? The way she manages to seamlessly weave in this synth-heavy sound in a narrative that’s all about Fiat Padminis, box-shaped TVs, bulky landline phones and rectangular school bags (peak ‘90s nostalgia alert!), should tell you a lot about how a unique sound can make or break a show. Khanwalkar’s score definitely takes the show to a whole new level.
All episodes of Kathmandu Connection are currently streaming on SonyLIV.