Cinema can trump itself while puzzling you to a great extent.
Last week i.e., 14-15 September, two Hindi web series were released, one each on Hotstar and Amazon Prime.
Now, the fascinating part is both the shows feature a list of same actors, especially the leads.
Avinash Tiwary, for instance, assumes the role of an IB officer in Kaala and transforms into a gangster in Bambai Meri Jaan, while Jitin Gulati portrays a criminal in both series.
Saurabh Sachdeva also navigates similar character dynamics.
Usually, producers avoid such things from happening. And, in my small career of reviewing films, it was a first.
Returning to Bambai Meri Jaan, it unfolds as a gripping crime drama spanning ten episodes and clocking in at over seven hours.
One might think that such a lengthy show could become tiresome, but fret not – my review is here to assist you in making an informed decision.
Bambai Meri Jaan Synopsis
Ismail Kadri narrates his journey as a cop and how his own son, Dara Kadri, goes on to become the biggest crime lord that Bombay has ever seen.
Directed by Shujaat Saudagar, Bambai Meri Jaan stars Kay Kay Menon (Ismail), Avinash Tiwary (Dara), Jitin Gulati (Saadiq), Nivedita Bhattacharya (Sakina), Kritika Kamra (Habiba), Amyra Dastur (Pari), Shiv Panditt (Ranbir Malik), Vivan Bhatena (Abdullah), Nawab Shah (Pathan), Saurabh Sachdeva (Haji), and Alok Pandey (Rahim), among others.
Sumeet Vyas plays a cameo in the series.
What Works for Bambai Meri Jaan?
Bombay, or as it’s now known, Mumbai, carries a rich history of the Mafia and the Underworld.
There was a time when the city was plagued by an appalling crime rate.
Bambai Meri Jaan dives headfirst into this captivating backdrop, utilizing its characters, settings, and scenes to fortify the very essence of its narrative.
And does it succeed? Absolutely. The storyline is not only satisfying but also engrossing, particularly in the initial 4-5 episodes.
There’s a plethora of alluring elements at play, starting with the timeless yet relevant theme of Good versus Evil.
The show deftly explores the moral dilemmas faced by a man torn between his familial responsibilities and his principles.
Kay Kay Menon’s idealistic portrayal, coupled with the weighty dialogue delivery, drives an intriguing evolution of the narrative.
Furthermore, the screenplay of Bambai Meri Jaan doesn’t disappoint; it’s fueled by intense chases, bloodshed, and high-stakes confrontations.
Even during moments when you might feel your attention waning, the creators ingeniously pull off surprises to keep you hooked.
While this may not be the most refined technique for viewer retention, it undeniably works in the context of Bambai Meri Jaan.
Some of the emotional scenes are nothing short of heart-wrenching, leaving you with a lump in your throat, thanks in no small part to the high-octane visual sequences that precede them.
The narrative’s intensity is another standout feature of this Amazon Prime series. When combined with meticulously crafted dialogue, Bambai Meri Jaan surges as a wave of brilliance.
Additionally, the depiction of Mumbai from a bygone era is executed with remarkable attention to detail.
Whether it’s the streets, infrastructure, or vintage movie posters, the creators have expertly captured this aspect.
They have opted for a subdued color palette to maintain the dark ambiance necessary for the crime-action theme.
Notably, the sets and shooting locations bear some resemblance to those seen in the recently concluded show, Jubilee. This observation is not a critique but rather an interesting point to note.
How are the Performances? (Long Read)
The cast of Bambai Meri Jaan has achieved something truly exceptional. They have breathed life into every scene, leaving no room for criticism, even from the most discerning critics.
Starting with Kay Kay Menon, who plays Ismail Kadri in the show, the ensemble cast keeps the tempo alive.
Menon is a brave force of onscreen articulation. His anger, screams, and the soft side are all so nuanced that they cover up for any lousiness in the writing department.
He takes on a seemingly ordinary character, one we’ve encountered before, yet manages to kindle a profound interest among the audience.
There is a certain kind of quietude behind each of his loud iterations. Yes, most actors have it, no doubt. But Menon’s impact is such that you remember his character even when he is away from the screen.
And I am not talking about the aftereffects of the series but particular scenes within the show. Menon leaves for a minute and you are already thinking about when would he be back.
His prowess in transporting emotions to the viewer is unparalleled, which is why Bambai Meri Jaan is an acting masterclass that students of cinema can access at any time.
Avinash Tiwary plays Dara in the Amazon Prime show. He is another master of his art.
The role of a burgeoning gangster demanded a chilling charisma, one that could make the audience believe in the character’s potential to surpass the current kingpin.
Tiwary rises to the occasion. He doesn’t resort to loud theatrics for attention. Instead, he strategically plays his cards, employing subtle character nuances.
Dara’s street-smartness is his defining trait, and upon closer examination of Tiwary’s performance, you discern his remarkable authenticity.
The talented Jitin Gulati, as Saadiq in Bambai Meri Jaan, showcases his versatility once again, following his memorable portrayal in Kaala.
His impeccable dialogue delivery, raw intensity, and fiery demeanor encapsulate the intricacies of Saadiq, resulting in a commendable performance.
Nivedita Bhattacharya, in the role of Sakina, is a silent powerhouse who doesn’t seek validation. She commands attention through her emotional resilience.
Kritika Kamra is magnificent as Habiba. Her vocal intonations and, most importantly, her hold on the accent is mind-blowing.
She makes it look so effortless and natural that for a moment you forget it is a fictional character being played.
Saurabh Sachdeva portrays Haji in Bambai Meri Jaan. Trust me, this man is stupendous. There is a scene in the series when he has to reprimand someone with authority.
And that’s by far the only time you see Haji angry in the entire film of ten episodes. Sachdeva has given his all to that moment of crest.
His eyes, the escalating intensity in his voice, and the menacing expressions are executed flawlessly, particularly in the scene I’m referring to.
Alok Pandey, despite having a limited role in Bambai Meri Jaan, surpasses expectations with his portrayal of Rahim, a drug addict who is perpetually under the influence.
In Pandey’s performance, you don’t merely see a junkie; you perceive a character molded by abuse, indifferent to everything else.
His performance exhibits remarkable fluidity, underscored by his fragile expressions, physical movements, and disheveled appearance, all of which become the defining features of Rahim.
Vivan Bhatena surprises with his heavily built physique, and to top it, he adds a lot of weight to his voice while playing Abdullah.
As Pathan, Nawab Shah comes back to a pro-villain role after a long time. Rest assured, you won’t be disappointed.
All others, especially, child actors, including Manthan Darji, Nihar Gite, Pratyakssh Mishra, Atharva Sharma, and Sammara Khan are exceptional in Bambai Meri Jaan.
What Doesn’t Work for Bambai Meri Jaan?
While the performances in Bambai Meri Jaan are undeniably outstanding, there’s a sense of déjà vu in the overall concept.
The series treads familiar ground, offering nothing particularly novel or groundbreaking. It feels like a reiteration of themes and narratives we’ve encountered numerous times before.
As the story unfolds, there’s a noticeable shift towards an overemphasis on revenge in Bambai Meri Jaan.
What initially starts as a promising crime-thriller gradually morphs into a revenge drama, which may not resonate with all viewers.
The middle section of the series, particularly in Dara’s ascent, falls short of expectations and feels somewhat lacking in substance.
One notable drawback is the action sequences. They lack the cutting-edge finesse and fluidity that contemporary filmography often brings to fight scenes.
Perhaps, this is why expectations were set rather high in this department.
Should You Stream or Skip Bambai Meri Jaan?
It is lengthy for sure, but the series is watchable and has lots of likable aspects.