Director: Ashutosh Shah, Taher Shabbir, Ruchi Narain,
Creator: Ashutosh Shah, Taher Shabbir, Ruchi Narain, Abhishek Dubey
Cast: Lara Dutta, Rinku Rajguru, Karan Wahi, Sudhanshu Pandey, Makrand Deshpande, Rajeev Siddharth, Parmeet Sethi
Producer: Ashutosh Shah, Taher Shabbir, Ruchi Narain, Neelesh Bhatnagar
Streaming Platform: Disney+Hotstar
Rarely has a story of death been so lively in its execution. Nethra (Rinku Rajguru, the Sairat tragedienne), working in the Census department, is told she has cancer and only has 100 days to live. The titular character is thus Nethra's remaining life-span. (The doctor's dialogues, who delivers her the message, are shoddily written; who has ever given such a precise number of days with staunch guarantee? The main issue with the show is that it doesn't even take its titular character seriously.)
What is quite enjoyable about the show is the sexual liberation the women enjoy without succumbing to its reductionist portrayals on screen.
Here, her paths cross with ACP Saumya Shukla (Lara Dutta in a role that tries too hard to be morally ambiguous) who utilizes Nethra's newfound love for adventure to help sort her professional life that veers uneasily between her sexist superior, an informer she uses for pleasure as much work, and a husband, also an officer, who doesn't understand where work ends and home begins.
Hundred stretches across 8 episodes, about 40 minutes each. The first few episodes are a drag, the writing is lazy, (the aforementioned doctor, Nethra's alcoholic ablutions, and Saumya walking away from an anniversary date whispering 'I love you' under her breath) and the acting is a bit on the nose. But as the episodes progress, characters are padded, more characters prop up, and the mess builds in a pressure cooker whose every whistle brings Nethra closer to her deathbed.
For a series headlined by two morally ambiguous women, the catharsis we get as a viewer is merely seeing them triumph the lazily written men around them. This brings up a rather uncomfortable question of whether as viewers, it is okay to champion morally questionable characters as long as they triumph over the systemic barrier of sexism.
My issue with the show is that it doesn't know how to build that pressure of Nethra's impending demise. The show feels merely content with mixing the stories up together and thriving in that chaos. Midway through the show the death-track is swept under the rug uneasily. But by that time, the characters, and sub-plots are locked and loaded, you don't mind this sheepish act so much.
For a series headlined by two morally ambiguous women, there is obviously no moral lesson to be had here. The catharsis we get as a viewer is merely seeing them triumph the lazily written men around them. This brings up a rather uncomfortable question of whether as viewers, it is okay to champion morally questionable characters as long as they triumph over systemic barriers of sexism or racism or homophobia.
What is also quite enjoyable is the sexual liberation the women enjoy without succumbing to its reductionist portrayals on screen. Nethra is looking to lose her virginity and when she does is so disappointed by how un-pleasurable it is, she blames the man. Saumya's infidelity too isn't given a reason, her sex life with her husband is shown to be quite electric. But neither is she apologetic about it. These are characters who don't feel sorry for themselves; they privilege acting over articulating, and thus don't feel the need to caption every experience into a tenet of a progressive manifesto. Here are two women who crave chaos, and so it is fitting that fun begins only when the chaos gets going.