Stutee Ghosh review Hotstar Special- <i>Hundred</i>.
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Lara Dutta Shines in an Otherwise Tedious Storyline of ‘Hundred’

‘Hundred’ is available for streaming on Hotstar now.

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Lara Dutta Shines in an Otherwise Tedious Storyline of ‘Hundred’

Hotstar’s latest show starts with the voiceover of one of its leads introducing us to the other. As ACP Saumya Shukla aka Lara Dutta’s voice slowly takes us through Nethra Patil aka Rinku Rajguru’s life and motions we do get a hint of how the two women will invariably be conjoined in their efforts to question the status quo. The word “Hundred” in the title refers to the number of days Nethra’s doctor tells her she has to live before the malignant tumour will put an untimely stop to her existence.

Suddenly unhinged and unburdened, Nethra loosens up as the prospect of impending death makes her realize she has nothing much to lose. Her bucket list is ready! She heads first to the bar for what looks like her first sip of alcohol and tries baar baar to lose her virginity! And of course, there is the almost tantalising dream of going to Switzerland.

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On the face of it, there is hardly anything common between our girl next door and our strident policewoman in her uniform. But soon we realize there is a lot that they share. Both are surrounded by men who add little or no value to their lives and yet want to control them as per their whims. Nethra has a well-meaning but useless boyfriend Aniket Naik (Suyash Zunjurke). Her father, grandfather and even younger brother are oblivious to the huge turmoil in her life. Saumya only appears emancipated whereas her husband Pravin (Sudhanshu Pandey) and immediate boss Anshuman (Parmeet Sethi) are reticent in their admiration and never treat her as an equal but routinely gang up on her.

When Nethra meets Sam, the latter has a brainwave and she decides together they can work towards a common goal. Her appetite for success in solving big high profile cases and Nethra’s need for adrenaline rush both seem within reach.

There are a total of 8 episodes each just around half an hour long but Hundred routinely meanders taking uncomfortably long to reach to the point. The first few episodes introduce us to the two women and their predicament. And this repeats for a couple more unnecessarily. It takes the longest time to familiarize us with its characters and that wouldn’t have been a problem if the peeled layers had offered us something new or interesting. Nethra is pitched in a shrill territory which at times seems a little overdone. She is still most effective in the quiet reflective stares as she tries to hold on to her precious life which seems to be spiralling out of control. Lara aces as ACP Shukla. “Judge karlo mujhe ghanta fark nahi padta,” repeats Saumya a couple of times.

Trying to learn the tricks of the trade on the job she mostly has to contend with seeing her junior get credit for the work she painstakingly accomplished. Saumya doesn’t wallow in self-pity. She is eager to get up and get going which to an extent imbues the series with some much-needed energy and zest. The two women are indeed a force to reckon with when together and in addition to the already present men in their lives, their rendezvous with a racketeer Shantanu (Rajeev Siddharth), his uncle Sattu (Makrand Deshpande) and a Haryanvi rapper Maddy (Karan Wahi) gives us some interesting exchanges.

The series has been directed by Ruchi Narain, Ashutosh Shah and Taher Shabbir and written by Narain, Shah and Abhishek Dubey and it is pulled in as many directions. Saumya’s junior who curries favour with the superiors simply on the virtue of being a man is called Asole. His name reverberates exactly like Komolika’s “nika” which I'm sure even now is embedded in some deep recesses of our brain. Why would they resort to something like this is hard to understand given that Asole ultimately is quite inconsequential in the larger scheme of things. Saumya’s relationship with her husband is a crucial element in the show’s emotional design. His frail male ego, the protective husband and the competitive colleague duality has a punch which ideally should have been explored more. Unlike Nethra’s slightly contrived journey, Saumya’s dealings with her sexist boss and the way she bustles through her troubles with passion is super fun to watch.

Lara and Rinku are consistently good. The bond of friendship between the two is complex. A few stray tender moments and a slightly darker undertone where Saumya doesn’t shy away from using Nethra to further her goes gives her character an interesting dimension. This synergy and excitement makes the story come alive in the last couple of episodes but to reach there one must go through a whole lot of tedious storytelling which not everyone can persist with. The show ends at a cliff hanger even though the episodes individually don’t offer much grist.

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