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‘Bestseller’ Review: Gauahar Khan Stands Out in a Drab and Dated Thriller
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‘Bestseller’ Review: Gauahar Khan Stands Out in a Drab and Dated Thriller

'Bestseller' stars Mithun Chakraborty, Shruti Haasan, Arjan Bajwa, and Gauhar Khan.

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Bestseller

‘Bestseller’ Review: Gauahar Khan Stands Out in a Drab and Dated Thriller

Based on the fairly popular book by Ravi Subramanian, ‘The Bestseller She Wrote', comes this show that seems to want to sample the flavour of the season - pulp. The pulpy premise and setup has all the makings of what Haseen Dillruba and more recently, Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein set foot into. Larger-than-life characters, femme fatales, doe-eyed innocent beauties, passion, betrayal, and murderous mischievous villains.

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Every aspect which Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein nailed, in terms of twists, turns, suspense, and character depth - this show misses.

A promotional picture for Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein.

(Photo Courtesy: IMDb)

The book has an atmosphere about it, the kind I feel fairly successful pulpy publications do - the neon covers, the voluptuous Savita Bhabhi animations, the bold lettering, the cheap paper, and ink but the show, sadly, does nothing to add to this flavour and makes a burnt dish.

I believe that books and their adaptations are two separate pieces of work and should be treated as such so for this essay I will focus on the series. At the center of the show is self-obsessed, arrogant, moody and quite frankly, immature Tahir Wazir, played by Arjan Bajwa.

Arjun Bajwa as Tahir Wazir in Bestseller.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Wazir has the empathy, patience and ability to read a room of a peanut (I think after the disaster that was decoupled, it is clear that the “writer personality” cliché does not work and should be dropped. Can we see some variety? Not all writers are cookie-cutter unidimensional monsters).

His wife, Mayanka, played by Gauahar Khan, is one of the more likeable and believable characters and performances in the show, she’s snarky, witty, a fierce ad world big boss and loves her drinks. Under the tough exterior, is a soft and kind woman. Then there’s the small-town girl, the protege, played by Shruti Haasan, Meetu Mathur, the quintessential ditzy doe-eyed beauty who is unaware of her own charm and prowess.

Arjun Bajwa and Gauahar Khan (as Mayanka) in Bestseller.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

She follows Wazir to Mumbai in the hopes of meeting him and not only does she meet him, but eventually moves into his house (how and why, you’ll need to watch the show for). Is there romance brewing right under Mayanka’s nose? Perhaps not. Is this a writer having found a muse, protege, a ticket out of his writers’ block in this mysterious new girl?

Then we have Mayanka’s new intern, who impresses her, woos her, and seduces her in all facets of life but as the saying goes, the devil doesn’t always come dressed in black and sporting horns. Satyajeet Dubey, who plays this role of Parth, is as good as the script can allow him and the same can be said for all of them, except Shruti who is not for one moment believable as a small town, doe-eyed girl with a dark past.

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There is no pull to her performance and feels like a caricature all throughout, everything from her accent to body language is jarringly “acting”. She wears a constant cross-eyed look which (I suppose) is meant to portray her vulnerability? It does not.

Shruti Haasan as Meethu Mathur in Bestseller.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

The fabulous author with writers’ block, a rich high powered wife, a small town damsel, a shady intern, and then, the two cops out of ‘Dumb and Dumber’, the show has a mixed bag and variety of people to walk the path that this mystery wants us to but despite the glamorous settings and beautiful faces, it does nothing.

It is slow, boring, looks and feels like multiple short films stitched together, and has character storylines that go nowhere. The show does pick up the story from the book but dilutes it and misses the chance to add visual depth, texture, colour, sound, and direction to make a pulpy piece with juice and ripeness. Even paper-thin stories can be worked on and bettered if used just as a blueprint.

The show is random and dated, the kind of tropes used, visual choices, people eavesdropping, random “hacking” lingo, holes and gaps in walls and doors as clues? This just doesn’t work anymore and feels lazy.

The show tries to create suspense through confusion, supposed intertwining suspected love stories, random attacks of violence and dark secrets and shady pasts the characters have but it falls flat. There is not a moment of suspense, mystery, thrill or excitement and oftentimes even resembles old episodes of Saas-Bahu serials from the early 2000’s.

The best thing about Bestseller is Gauahar Khan and the beautiful apartment she shares with her author husband. Maybe a few scenes more of that, with quaint music, would’ve felt better to watch.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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