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Bestseller tries, but is hilarious at best with Haasan’s fake accent, Mithun’s dad jokes

Bestseller is a sub-par show with some promise if you can soldier through it. But it has 'oh-so predictable 'twists' at its core.

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When an egoistic ‘bestselling’ novelist, going through a decade-old writer’s block, discovers an eccentric fan, their past serves as the perfect material for an apt sequel to their blockbuster novel. But the naive fan is a lot more than what meets the eye.

Bestseller is a thriller that has crime, greed, murder mystery, and a revenge saga at the core of its plot. Directed by Mukul Abhyankar and produced by Sidharth Malhotra’s Alchemy Productions, it is Mithun Chakraborty’s OTT debut and stars Shruti Haasan as the lead. The show is based on Ravi Subramanian’s The Bestseller She Wrote, but the writing is credited to Anvita Dutt and Althea Kaushal.

It is a sub-par show that has some promise and engages you in the second half if you can soldier through the first few episodes. But fans of the genre can predict the premise and the oh-so predictable ‘twists-and-turns’ that the story takes.

Murder, mystery, and trauma

Despite his non-existent career after writing a bestseller that sold millions of copies and was adapted as a movie 10 years earlier, Tahir Wazir (Arjan Bajwa) has a posh apartment in Mumbai and a gorgeous wife, Mayanka (Gauhar Khan), to welcome him home with a drink. She is a successful ad director who is preparing for an upcoming award show. But Tahir has no interest in sharing her enthusiasm. Instead, he brings the spirits down, as he is miffed at his publisher who demands a draft after a signing amount of Rs one crore. Everything is clearly not hunky-dory in this marriage of misfits.

He bumps into Meetu Mathur (Shruti Haasan), a small-town girl trying to make ends meet and struggling to even pay her rent. Meetu is an aspiring writer and is rendered speechless at the sight of her favourite author and idol. She experiences a fandom moment and aspires to become the next ‘Tahir Wazir’ before an uninterested and seemingly irritated Tahir. But his annoyance turns into a smirk as three scars on her wrist pique his interest. She claims they are from an abusive childhood, a murder that she committed, and a developing story.

Meanwhile, Mayanka reluctantly welcomes Parth (Satyajeet Dubey) as an intern to her office who has a clear disdain for Tahir Wazir’s writing, a fact he lets her know in their first interaction itself. Despite the rocky start, Parth grows on her rapidly with his carefree, rebellious attitude and boyish charm. But he is secretly plotting Tahir’s downfall and gets into regular abusive online spats with the ‘celebrity’ on ‘Tweaker’.

Tahir moves Meetu into an expensive hotel room and pretends to be interested in her backstory because he senses a potential ‘bestselling’ sequel to his decade-old novel in her tragic life. But Meetu is attacked by a masked adversary in the room and this becomes breaking news the very next day.

Enter Mithun as ACP Lokesh Pramanik — works for CID, cracks dad-jokes and food-puns in every situation, and can be best described as exhausting and intrusive. But the veteran eases into the role and puts forth a nuanced performance suited to his stature as the character and its own baggage unfolds.

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Good and bad

Despite the juicy plot, there are a number of things that can irk viewers and work as a spoilsport.

First, Tahir Wazir’s novel Raand Saand Seedhi Sanyaasi, which is at Bestseller’s centre, references Kabir’s couplet and Varanasi. As Meetu clears the air about the unusual name, she recites, “Raand Saand Seedhi Sanyaasi, inse bache to seve kaashi”. But the show avoids naming the beautiful city along Ganga’s coast and names it ‘Rajasi’ instead. ‘Tweaker’, the substitute for Twitter, becomes the butt of the audience’s jokes.

Second, Shruti Hassan’s fake accent stands out like a thorn and makes for a laughable and irritating viewing experience as the show tries to pull you in with intrigue and mystery. The accent, which the show makers think is some clever plot point, works more towards its detriment.

Third, the predictability and the Race-3-esque layering to create surprise, which doesn’t remain a surprise towards the end, really.

Despite the shortcomings, Shruti Hassan, Mithun, and Gauhar Khan pack a punch in the second half as the story develops and different subplots converge into one. The acting feels natural, the plot more believable and engaging, and you even develop sympathy for the characters as you begin rooting for them

(Edited by Humra Laeeq)

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