“When someone is sick, you don’t doctor them, you nurse them back…” It won’t be wrong to describe Kaala Paani, a new Netflix series, with this deeply resonating line.
The show marks the arrival of the fourth Hindi Language creation on the platform in the last thirty days or so.
Translating to “Black Water” in literal terms, Kaala Paani is set in the Indian Peninsula of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
It promises a thrilling, ominous, and suspenseful narrative packed and spread across over seven hours.
In my Kaala Paani review, I will try to gauge whether it has the wings to fly or not.
Kaala Paani Synopsis
After the district administration overlooks a doctor’s insightful recommendations, a water-borne epidemic threatens the existence of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
Thousands of lives are at stake and some inherently tough choices await the decision makers.
Does the disease have its origins within the limits of the peninsula or is there an external mystery associated with it?
Kaala Paani is helmed by Samir Saxena and Amit Golani. It stars Mona Singh (Soudamini), Ashutosh Gowariker (Zibran Qadri), Sukant Goel (Chiranjeevi), Amey Wagh (Ketan), Vikas Kumar (Santosh), Arushi Sharma (Jyotsna), Radhika Mehrotra (Ritu), and Chinmay Mandlekar (Shashi) in primary roles.
What Works for Kaala Paani?
Sometimes, heartbreak can yield positive results, especially in the realm of creativity. Kaala Paani presents a concept that has the power to captivate, leaving you breathless and even teary-eyed.
The series revolves around an island, bustling with tourists, struck by a deadly epidemic. At first glance, this might seem like a commonplace idea, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, what sets ‘Kaala Paani’ apart is its skillful fusion of cultural elements and historical narratives.
The initial setup is so enticing that, despite foreseeing a sorrowful journey, you willingly plunge into the idea.
Strangely, Kaala Paani is picturized in 2027 (more on this later). Maybe, in the second season, we will be enlightened with logical reasoning.
Nevertheless, the series has a gripping storyline that holds you like glue. It fascinatingly connects all the dots and brings turbulences to the fore.
The emotional landscape feels genuine and unpretentious as Kaala Paani traverses the themes of cruelty, greed, karma, inhumanity, etc.
The series maintains a high level of precision and avoids any sloppiness. I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes one of the most-watched Indian shows on Netflix (I have a strong hunch).
Kaala Paani features several unsettling moments that resonate deeply. Thanks to the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, even the pre-stages of an impending disaster press your heart.
It skillfully plays on the universal fear of witnessing injustice inflicted upon the undeserving.
From there, it intrudes on your heart and places a forlorn structure of continuous aggravation.
Furthermore, Kaala Paani’s screenplay is thrilling, replete with intricate suspense and mounting tension, offering everything a viewer could desire.
Fortunately, the show lacks superficiality, adhering to a commitment to realism from conception to execution.
The characterization is superb as well. As far as I know, the series is not based on any published work and is entirely original.
In this backdrop, Kaala Paani creates an amazing onscreen world with people who are distinctly gray in nature.
No one is a complete saint or an absolute devil; it all depends on the lens through which you judge them.
Though the Netflix show doesn’t outwardly promise mystery, it is unpredictable to a very good extent.
Last but not the least, the series brings important societal issues to the forefront.
It encourages reflection on topics ranging from respecting nature and considering the costs of infrastructure development to highlighting the plight of indigenous tribes.
Kaala Paani will compel you to ponder over aspects that often go unnoticed.
How are the Performances? (Long Read)
There are many true stars of Kaala Paani. It is extremely difficult to pick one actor and say they are the best. The entire cast is wonderfully amazing.
Mona Singh plays Soudamini in the series. As always, she is effortless. Her natural expressions strengthen the character’s prudence and the ever-so-patient dialogue delivery puts her in the driver’s seat.
You are definitely going to wonder why the makers didn’t utilize her properly. It irked me to see her in a minuscule screen time. We deserve more of her masterclass.
Sukant Goel, portraying Chiranjeevi, sets the screen ablaze with his nuanced and compelling performance.
His intensity, rugged demeanor, and powerful screen presence raise the question of where he has been all these years. In Kaala Paani, Sukant is scintillating, providing a massive boost to the entire series.
His use of expressions, particularly his command over his eyes, leaves the audience captivated.
Amey Wagh is another underrated actor in Indian Cinema. We have seen tidbits of his ability in Asur but you have to see him in Kaala Paani to witness the real artist in him.
He plays Ketan, a corrupt cop, and slowly gathers enough loathe that you wish only bad for him. Still, the performer in Wagh keeps you on your toes all the time.
Eventually, it is not merely about hating him or liking him. Things become more complicated, thanks to the ingenuous act he pulls out.
If you have seen Vikas Kumar in CID or Arya, you have not yet seen him, to be honest. Playing Santosh in Kaala Paani, the actor is pushed by the script to challenge himself.
He transforms with the story and the transformation is murkier than you think. How Kumar flips the switch is extraordinary. In all sincerity, I had never thought he could pull off something like this, but here we are.
Arushi Sharma, who mesmerized viewers with last year’s Jaadugar, once again triumphantly aces an affable character.
As Jyotsna, she leaves no option other than to get smitten by the natural friendliness of the individual she portrays.
Radhika Mehrotra is Ritu in Kaala Paani. Her gritty and determined outing assures you of a formidable protagonist who can go lengths to achieve her goals.
Ashutosh Gowariker (yes, you read that right. He is the man who directed Lagaan) depicts a simple and straightforward man with public authority.
His emotionless demeanor suits the character perfectly, devoid of unnecessary dramatics. Just as he has excelled behind the camera for years, he comfortably fulfills his role in front of it.
Chinmay Mandlekar as Shashi again goes on to explore the depths of acting. He is quiet, tranquil, and still commanding.
What Doesn’t Work for Kaala Paani?
Set in 2027, Kaala Paani doesn’t exhibit any relevance to the future. Never do we get a hint of the possible technological advancements.
Poor network connectivity is understandable to some extent but going three years ahead and still not counting for it is a strange argument.
At least the flock of tourists should have been shown with some gadgets.
It also defies logic sometimes. Even in the first episode, there are moments when the actions don’t match practicality.
Overall, the show is awesome. However, I feel ignoring several aspects of the probable future should not have been done.
Steam or Skip?
Kaala Paani is a brilliant series. If anyone says otherwise, they are lying. You have to watch it.
What is Tinnotu?
It is a term used in Kaala Paani by Chiranjeevi’s mother. She says this in reference to the Orakas’ ability to sense natural disasters in advance.
According to her, there is no exact word for it in any language. Therefore, I assume it is a fictional term, which means understanding something so deeply that you can sense even the slightest discomfort in it.
For example, consider your field of expertise. You have aced it so well that you can notice even a fragment of any issue, which allows you to mitigate it before it goes to the final stages.