The Great Indian Murder is detailed, nuanced and dense. It is like a thick book, 900 pages long, all written in small font. Imagine Game Of Thrones or Lord of The Rings detailing, with The Irishman like slow burner and under belly universe. On first look you know this is typical of the Tigmanshu Dhulia universe of things - memorable dialogues, raw, almost dusty, not very stylised visuals and colours and Shakespearean level ensemble casts, multiple subplots, stories and theatrical entries and exits. There is violence, crime, family drama and larger than life characters in the hinterland - all things we now know and especially associate with Dhulia. This show is no surprise in its space and context but in a space that feels done to death of small town Indian crime dramas and thrillers, it is enjoyable in its mystery and detailing. It is raw, crude and almost vulgar. It is unfiltered, figuratively and literally.
The women are treated worse than dirt, there are merely objects and punching bags. They’re kicked around, sold in the market like fruits and vegetables, slapped, kicked and raped at the drop of a hat and even murdered, sometimes all this just for kicks. There are now a dime a dozen shows and films in this universe, ranging from Gangs of Wasseypur to Mirzapur, from Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein to Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster. Gurgaon, Ab Tak Chhappan, Shootout at Lokhandwala and Wadala - the list of crime thrillers is endless but, be warned before you watch this, that the gender violence is particularly heartless in this one. Dhulia does a wonderful job at exposing the brutality which is still very much a reality towards women in this country and in this world. I don’t usually believe in trigger warnings and think that those should be reserved for special circumstances and I do think this is one of those. If, especially as a woman, you have experiences to do with violence and abuse that you struggle with, proceed with caution and viewer discretion is recommended.
This crime drama - mystery story begins quickly and jumps into the thick of things. The universe is expansive and varied, people from different cities, states, religions and classes intercut and interact, they suffer for one another and because of another. You realise how, we are all living in this world, where our smallest actions could cause ripple effects that can be felt far and wide. There really truly is only seven degrees of separation it seems and the world, is small. Ruthless, aggressive and almost heartless (what with all his childhood trauma and pent up feelings) businessman Vikram Rai has many enemies, within his family and outside. His father is a power hungry man, vying for a political throne. The family has a band of loyal henchmen and they abuse and misuse their status left right and centre.
Then we have the struggling and poor man trying to come up in life (Shashank Arora), Nigerian businessmen with strange intentions and tribals from Andaman searching for what means and matters most, an identity they are robbed off and then treated as outsiders. In between all this mess, are a selection of IPS officers that are far from honest or hardworking, journalists who fear nothing and border reckless and well intentioned friends and family.
All these lives are connected by a stroke of (bad) luck, chance and coincidence and as tensions run high, one of the key players in this cast is murdered in cold blood in the presence of hundreds of people. When so many people have so much to gain or so much anger to take out and revenge to take, who killed our victim? Everyone seems to have a reason to do it.
A classic whodunnit, this is Agatha Christie like, from the minute the death occurs, and you know a death is coming, you sit back and wait and watch as this show slowly, deliberately and very calculatedly walks to its conclusion. If you’re looking for a fast paced thriller with glitz and glamour, this is not the show. This is for the slow and steady, those rewarded by basic gruelling hard work, those who can put their hands in the dirt and forget about their manicured nails for a while. From Tamil Nadu to Delhi, Andaman to Chattisgarh, we see it all, and at times this even gets exhausting as there is an overload of information and there is just so much detail to keep track off and with a little effort, you keep going.
Based on Vikas Swarup's book Six Suspects, The Great Indian Murder is as ironic a name as it is critical of this country’s blatant abuse of power, misuse of resources, sexism, misogyny and corruption. Things we have all seen before, but this time wrapped in a new garb - the garb not of a political thriller or feminist monologue but that of the classic, age old whodunnit. Watch this for the acting, the writing, detailing and even the direction, get ready for something that won’t let you be a passive and lazy viewer and will demand your attention and the use of your grey matter. The Great Indian Murder is meaty enough for almost everyone to watch and feel full and satisfied.
Rating: 3.5 Quints out of 5