BOTTOM LINE: A Tale About Consent That Doesn’t Strike a Chord
|Platform: Voot Select||Genre: Drama|
What Is the Story About?
A medico Anurag Saraswat shifts to a hilly town to start life afresh with his 16-year-old son Ayaan, after losing his wife in case of suspected suicide. Anurag certainly seems interested in of Ayaan’s teachers at school, Sameera Chauhan, with whom he even goes on a date. The date night takes a turn for the worse after the two share a drink and eventually get intimate. The next morning, Sameera goes onto to claim that Anurag has raped her. The allegation turns Anurag’s world topsy-turvy and the medico asserts that she had consented to his physical advances. There’s no evidence from Sameera to validate her rape charge. Who’s lying here? Will their lives ever be the same again?
It’s a relief to see Rajeev Khandelwal back in good form after a drab outing like Cold Lassi Aur Chicken Masala. He doesn’t mind playing his age in Marzi and seems to have enjoyed exploring the negative dimensions of his character with newfound confidence. Aahana Kumra is earnest in the shoes of a hot-blooded teacher but a certain element of restraint could have made her performance more poignant and heartfelt. Pavleen Gujral’s portrayal of a cop doesn’t make the role a caricature and comes with a lot of composure and internalised aggression. Vivek Mushran, Rajeev Siddhartha, Shivani Tanksale, Abhay Verma appear assured within their supporting acts.
In what appears to be a clear pattern in the digital medium, audiences are witnessing a surge in content discussing consent in relationships and distinction between physical intercourse and sexual assault. Marzi, as the name suggests, revolves around consent (or the lack of it) dominantly and is a woman’s persistent quest to ‘out’ the perpetrator who had allegedly preyed on her and left no traces of the ‘act’.
Those aware of Netflix’s recent release Guilty may find obvious similarities with Marzi with its story, but the latter’s redundant storytelling doesn’t allow it to rise above the ‘activist’ tag (unlike Guilty where the filmmaking was as riveting and significant as the issue it was discussing). Marzi chooses to be less-realistic and more-dramatic, but the drama doesn’t have an emotional anchor at all. The truth behind the rape-charge is revealed way too early in the show, after which it merely becomes a cat-and-mouse race between the perpetrator and victim(s).
There are unnecessary subplots that divert the show’s focus from its core issue – the extramarital affair between the protagonist’s sister and her ex amounts to nothing in the show (but from being a bearable distraction). The teenage pregnancy subplot, though well-tackled, is crammed into the story sans much effect. The idea of a female cop being a victim of the serial rapist doesn’t provide sufficient emotional charge to the show. The series repeatedly focuses on the modus operandi of the perpetrator, which serves no purpose beyond wasting precious screen-time.
The uninspiring writing is a major dampener, though the director tries hard to give it a fillip with the relatively sensible treatment and the assured performances from his lead cast. The problem, however, is the unidimensional motive of the characters and their singular focus. There are no layers to the characters and if at all they exist, are revealed way too early, leaving nothing for the audiences to gauge, imagine or be surprised about. The inherent patriarchy within the society is subtly touched upon, but the impact is vague.
The small-town flavour could have brought an interesting dimension to the story too, if only team Marzi had an eye for detailing. The ending is equally tepid and feels like a lazy admission from the writer that she has fallen short of ideas to further the plot. It’s welcoming that the Me Too-movement has become a source of inspiration for several storytellers to inspire change, but they could make better efforts in giving it an interesting spin and go beyond merely sensationalising it.
Music and Other Departments?
Sharad Joshi’s gradually affecting background score works in the context of the show – especially with its use of silence in comparison to the dramatic elements. Radhika Anand, the writer, may have had a reasonably interesting premise at her disposal but the impact is diluted with the umpteen number of subplots the script indulges in. Team Graphpaper, with the production design and the cinematographer Sunil Pillai are effective in constructing a visually intriguing world, with the innovative use of the props, scenic landscapes and the architectural charm in the region.
Engaging in parts
The redundant screenplay
The indulgent subplots
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
Probably to those who haven’t watched Guilty on Netflix
Review by Srivathsan Naddadhur