Released on Hotstar 25th June
It has become common for every web series to have a political background, case in point being Sacred Games, the two seasons of Family Man, Paatal Lok and others. Grahan is no different. The series is inspired by the novel Chaurasi written by Satya Vyas. The story traverses two timelines which are set three decades from each other but there is a commonality which binds these two timelines. The eight -episode series packs in many things but still makes a huge impact on the viewer’s mind. The major credit for that goes to director Rajan Chandel and the cast.
Zoya Hussain plays the righteous IPS officer Amrita Singh. Amrita is someone who strongly believes in using her position for betterment of society. She lives with her father in Ranchi played by Pavan Malhotra. Her father Rishi alias Gurusevak wants Amrita to move to Canada with her fiance Karthik( Nandish Sandu). When she tries to solve a case of a honest journalist Amrita is rebuked by top politicians who try to influence her. Tired of all these things she decides to resign from her job. However things take a turn when on old case regarding the Sikh riots in a place called Bokaro comes up. Amrita is asked to take charge of the reinvestigation of that particular incident. Amrita is more than happy to take it up but her world comes crashing down when she finds that her father Gurusevak is the prime suspect in the case.
What follows is a tough battle where Amrita finds herself at the crossroads. She starts questioning her own identity and feels that her entire life is a lie. Her father on the other hand stays silent as Amrita faces the dilemma of whether her father was really a criminal. The other timeline of the story is the love track of Gurusevak when he was young and Manu. These two parts have been played by newcomers Anshuman Pushlar and Wamiqa Gabbi. This is set in the 80’s. They meet in an unlikely sitiuation in Bokaro and fall in love. But the assassination of Indira Gandhi creates an unexpected havoc in their lives. People are seeking vengeance and Rishi heads a team of rioters. However the big question is did he really do it or is there more to this entire thing that meets the eye?
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The most striking aspect of Grahan is the parallels that it draws between the 1984 Sikh riots and today’s India. It talks about how people can be quickly incited by WhatsApp forwards and political manipulation. There are scenes in the present timeline which effectively communicate how people easily believe in rumours and turn against each other in spite of living with them for a long time. The underlying message is that issues are the same whether it is 1984 or today.
On the surface, Grahan may look like part investigative drama and part love story but there are subtle references to many of burning issues in our country. These include casteism, sexism, poverty etc. There is a scene where a witness refuses to accept a glass of water from a cop, the reason for that is he (the cop) comes from the lower caste. This scene leaves you with a knot in the stomach.
The series is also effective in giving a psychological insight into the mindset of the people who let themselves be influenced by the situation around them. There is a powerful scene where a rioter sheds tears after 30 years while talking about the people that he killed during the riots. He says that he picked up the gun only to feel powerful and goes on to say how wrong he was.
The 80’s love track gives the series some of its most charming moments. Both the newcomers play their parts with conviction. You root for them to have a happy ending which doesn’t happen.
The cinematography of Kamaljeet Singh also deserves a special mention as he is able to capture the period of 80’s perfectly and make it believable for today’s audiences. The background score is also equally effective particularly in the scenes of the riots.
Another major highlight of the show is the father and the daughter equation and the ups and downs that it goes through the entire process. The emotional scenes between Zoya and Pavan Malhotra will definetly strike a chord in your hearts. It also helps that they deliver brilliant performances.
The only slight issue that I had with the show was the editing of some episodes. It could have been tighter. Also there are certain subplots that take time to unravel.
Grahan is a story with many emotions. Watch it particularly for the sensitive handling of the subject matter.