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Hotstar’s Rudra is tailored to fit Ajay Devgn’s persona. But its villains steal the show

Devgn's portrayal of an ‘unconventional’ cop is at its intense best in Hotstar's Rudra. It adds to his role in Singham, Sunday, Insaan and Gangajal.

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In a long line of TV shows in India that have been ‘adapted’ from originals in other countries, comes Disney+ Hotstar’s latest crime thriller Rudra: The Edge of Darkness. Starring Raashi Khanna, Esha Deol and Atul Kulkarni, the show revolves around its protagonist DCP Rudraveer Singh, played by Ajay Devgn. In what’s a close resembling adaptation, where certain frames are an exact replica of the 2010 British drama Luther, the show, told through the point of view of the troubled cop, is able to capture the essence of its source material.

The story of the series hinges solely on Rudra, a cop who works for the Special Crimes Unit and solves murders while navigating through an estranged marriage. The plot thickens as he runs into Aliyah Choksi, ‘a child prodigy’, as his boss (played by Ashwini Kalsekar) exclaims; and a suspect in the murder of her parents and their dog.

The show is directed by Rajesh Mapuskar best known for his 2012 sports-drama film Ferrari Ki Sawaari. The choice makes for an interesting point of discussion considering he was also involved in 3 Idiots (2009), Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006) and Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. (2003) as an associate director. The directorial vision in all these blockbuster films stands as a stark contrast to Rudra — the gritty, cerebral thriller steeped in noir-esque violence. The writers of the show, Upen Chauhan and Jay Sheela Bansal, are the more natural choice, considering their work in the 2020 cop series Bhaukaal streaming on MX Player. Regardless, the show doesn’t seem to display a clash of heads in this regard, it’s well written and does justice to the genre.

Also Read: Tigmanshu Dhulia’s The Great Indian Murder has just enough gas to keep you watching

Psychos, murders and a broken marriage

The scene opens at a construction site in Mumbai with Rudra running after a frantic child trafficker, Mandar Nayak. He closes in on Nayak and throws iron rods in an attempt to trip him over and succeeds. Nayak is left hanging at the edge of the building. As he holds on for dear life, Rudra asks Nayak for the whereabouts of a 12-year-old Meera. The team finds the child at the suspected site but Rudra lets go of Nayaks’ hand as he falls down several storeys.

Rudra is suspended from duty as Nayak escapes death but is in a coma — cementing his reputation as an ‘unconventional’, ‘bad-guy cop’ who doesn’t play by the rules from the get-go. This trope is crucial to the plot and plays into it. The role adds to a list of movies like Singham (2011), Sunday (2008), Insaan (2005) and Gangajal (2003), in which Devgn portrays an ‘unconventional’ cop.

Cut to seven months later, Rudra is called back from suspension to solve the murder mystery of Aliyah Choksi’s parents and their dog. Rudra suspects Aliyah and says ‘she did it’ as he runs out of the interrogation room after their first exchange. After a little cat and mouse chase, Rudra realises that he is outwitted and does not have sufficient evidence to prove Aliyah guilty.

In this mess, Rudra tries to mend relations with his wife Shaila, played by Esha Deol, who now lives separately.

The overarching arc of Aliyahs’ case is put in the background as the following episodes track various vicious serial killers. Rudra tries to hunt them down and nullify the threat they pose. Some of the best performances in the show are delivered by the actors who are the villains in these episodes. Aliyah develops infatuation and obsession for Rudra and the two form an unlikely friendship, as she helps him and gives crucial advice to crack the cases.

As the season progresses, more unlikely alliances are revealed and some characters shed their layers to make for an interesting and emotional ending.

Also Read: 20 days since soldiers’ death in Galwan, ‘patriot’ Ajay Devgn decides it’s movie material

Good pace, stereotypical characters

The show has a decent pace and the leading actors deliver. Ajay Devgn is at his intense best and carries the show on his able shoulders. He plays the character who has shades of grey with nuance and to near perfection. Meanwhile, Raashi Khanna also impresses in her big-outing as the lead opposite him.

The show also has a brilliant supporting cast with veterans like Ashwini Kalsekar, Ashish Vidyarthi, Atul Kulkarni and newcomer Tarun Gahlot, who plays Devgns’ sidekick. The stars of the show, however, are the actors that play into the psyche of highly-intelligent criminals really well. It also attempts to highlight several social evils against women, blind faith and child trafficking.

Esha Deol’s character, however, is that of a typical wife portrayed in Hindi shows. She has no personality and remains only in the sub-plot of Rudra’s nuptial breakdown. Her character, Shaila, has an extramarital affair because Rudra is ‘too passionate’ about his work, but comes back to him when it suits the plot of the show.

However, Rudra sets the world of crime and an imperfect lead character really well. It has everything to make the show a perfect weekend watch.

Views are personal.

(Edited by Srinjoy Dey)

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In a long line of TV shows in India that have been ‘adapted’ from originals in other countries, comes Disney+ Hotstar's latest crime thriller Rudra: The Edge of Darkness. Starring Raashi Khanna, Esha Deol and Atul Kulkarni, the show revolves around its protagonist DCP...Hotstar's Rudra is tailored to fit Ajay Devgn's persona. But its villains steal the show