Series Review: Bestseller

Series Review: Bestseller

Starring: Shruti Haasan, Arjan Bajwa, Gauahar Khan, Satyajeet Dubey, Sonalee Kulkarni, Suchitra Pillai, Viraf Patel and Mithun Chakraborty

Director: Mukul Abhyankar

The eight-chapter Amazon Prime series, with a runtime of around 30 to 35 minutes for each episode, 'Bestseller' is a gripping and bingeworthy drama. The story revolves around an interesting plot, layered with some unpredictable and some cliched twists, and very imaginative casting and character dynamics.

Loosely adapted from Ravi Subramaniam's novel 'The Bestseller She Wrote', the series tells the story of novelist Tahir Wazir (Bajwa), who is facing writer's block and how his apparent chance meeting with a fan Meetu Mathur (Haasan) turns his life upside down. Desperate to fulfil everyone's expectations and get his old mojo back, Tahir decides to use his fan's story for his own novel.

Meanwhile, Parth (Dubey), an office intern, joins Tahir's wife, Mayanka's (Khan) Ad agency, and promptly begins to act sneaky.

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As we proceed, someone starts trolling Tahir online. This follows attacks on Meetu, prompting ACP Lokesh Pramanik (Chakraborty) to investigate the matter, as the last case before his retirement, along with cyber-crime specialist Urmila Ranade (Kulkarni). The trolling escalates, people die, and viewers discover things might be interlinked.

'Bestseller' takes us back to the 90s when parents didn't need to lock their kids in a different room for watching psychological crime thrillers. When life wasn't this complicated, and TV shows weren't full of gore, unethical sex, and unresolved PTSD from childhood.

Just a simple lazy Sunday crime thriller, with naïve looking young criminal, a megalomaniac male protagonist, and a pretty heroine, 'Seeta' who can turn into 'Geeta' when needed – it even has an old super cop with a bad wig and his lovely sidekick.

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But time machines are not real. So, we have space for a social media platform called 'Tweeker' and a video streaming platform 'New Tube' in the script. And cybercrime also plays a significant part in the show.

Also, a 'doha' (couplet) by Kabir: "Raand, saand, seerhi, sanyasi / Inse bache to sevey Kashi" forms the crux of the story. Loosely translated, it means one must avoid the needy widow, the aggressive bull, the slippery steps of the Ganga ghat and fraudulent godmen to find the true bliss of Kashi (Benaras).

Strangely, however, the name of the place which serves as the most important backdrop of the story of 'Bestseller' isn't Kashi but Ranjsi!

It truly feels as if one has been transported to the play-safe world of Doordarshan, where kissing would be shown with flowers.

However, if you are an optimist and can gloss over this time travel, a few loopholes in the plot, some confusion around continuity of a disabled (or injured?) leg and some 'filmy' improbabilities can easily be overlooked because of the superb acting by all the actors involved.

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Shruti Haasan gives one of her best performances to date. Arjan Bajwa and Sonalee Kulkarni, live up to the expectations. Considering the hype around Satyajeet Dubey these days, his expressions should have been much more layered and complex because of the character he's playing. Unfortunately, powerful actors like Gauahar Khan and Mithun Chakraborty have little scope in the script of showing their skills, to which they have done justice to their best abilities.

Finally, the narration, storytelling technique from beginning to end, and the main plot of 'The Bestseller She Wrote' from which the series has been adapted ultimately makes it a bingeworthy watch, despite the many incongruities.

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