BOTTOM LINE: Well-Acted, Well-Shot Lockdown Show, Hampered By Hackneyed Plot
|Platform: Hoichoi||Genre: Crime, Thriller|
SkinNSwear – No skin show. A few cuss words/words referring to male genitals
What Is the Story About?
Six friends are stuck in various parts of the world in the midst of the Coronavirus lockdown. They get together on a WhatsApp group called Pabitra Puppies and begin playing a PUBG style combat and shooting game to while away their time. Things get murky when one by one the friends start killing themselves in unexplained and unexpected cases of suicide. To add a twist to the plot, the player that loses in the game that night is the one who kills himself/herself the same night. As each night takes away one of the friends, the remaining friends begin to realise that a sinister force is behind the suicides – or should they say, murders?
The performances are quite good, considering that every actor has had to emote in isolation, without the supportive prodding and propping of co-actors. Vikram Chatterjee and Saurav Das are easily the best of the lot. Vikram’s portrayal of the paranoia and fear at the recurring deaths of his friends gets to you in a very real way. Saurav Das has done justice to his diabolic character – his poker-faced portrayal of a dyed-in-the-wool communist of the Russian school of thought is a good attempt at imbuing edginess into the story. Sohini Sarkar hams her way through her role of a self-righteous NGO worker. Ankita Chakraborty and Saayoni Ghosh have put in adequate performances.
Pabitra Puppies is an innovative idea from Hoichoi TV and writer-director Debaloy Bhattacharya in the middle of lockdown constraints. It truly pushes the envelope with its endeavour to create a suspense and murder mystery in lockdown conditions – a decidedly difficult proposition to pull off convincingly, given the restriction of spaces, lack of physical interaction between the actors and limited props.
That said, the series suffers due to a hackneyed plot. The first episode is engaging, establishes keen suspense, and gets you hooked enough to want to watch further. The friendly banter among the friends, the minor disagreements and tiffs, all of it comes across as very natural and free from artifice. The first suicide, when it happens, is shot well, and stuns you for a bit.
However, from the second episode onwards, the narrative begins to get tedious, repetitive and somewhat cumbersome. After all, one has already worked out that the episode will end on another suicide and who the victim will be. You even start to get an inkling of the mystery surrounding the suicides. The meaningless arguments, underlying currents and attempts to create meaningful subtext fall flat, failing to draw us into the narrative.
The introduction of Saurav Das as a Russian-spouting maverick with communist leanings spices things up a bit. In fact, you’re pulled back into the series at this point, and the keenness to watch further returns. But things again settle into the old humdrum routine; you realise that Saurav Das’ entry in the series is just a flash in the pan.
To put it succinctly, Pabitra Puppies is a brave endeavour, with a great idea at its core – but the greatness of the idea exists only on paper. The execution of the plot plays party pooper. The writing aims to create red herrings at certain times, but they fail to get the desired effect of amping up the suspense. Net result – a suspense mystery with not too much suspense by the end of the series.
Music and Other Departments?
The background music has been composed such that it lends a disconcerting hint to the proceedings. It succeeds in giving an eerie ambience to the happenings on screen. The song ‘Jaay Jara’, sung by Ishan Mitra and Ikkshita Mukherjee and composed by Amit – Ishan has a poignant melancholy to it, and goes perfectly well with the sombre mood of the later episodes. It adds a feeling of despondency to the fear of death lingering in the air.
The scene structuring and shot-taking has been done well, considering that there was not much help in that department for the actors. The editing of Pabitra Puppies is really good. It has a major role to play in the fact that the series has turned out quite well in the technical aspects. There are no jerky endings or sloppy cuts to mar the flow of the narrative.
Brave, innovative idea
Setting in of tedium by the end of the series
Lack of too much suspense
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
Review by Binged Bureau
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