Director: Vidyasaagar Muthukumar
Cast: Priyadarshi, Uma Maheswara Rao, Posani Krishna Murali, Sai Priyanka Ruth, Nandini Rai, Vikas
The first episode of In The Name Of God is pulpy. It has all the elements that are required to make a series binge-worthy. You get introduced to a porn filmmaker, an extramarital affair, a murder, and a whole suitcase of money that runs into multiple crores. From here on out, if you think you can easily guess how the rest of the show is going to turn out, you’ll end up climbing the wrong mountain.
I wouldn’t blame you for wondering why this isn’t a show about how to get away with murder. I was hoping to watch something along those lines until I stumbled into episode three and realized that it had branched out to accommodate different strands of crime and punishment. What starts off as a black comedy (thanks to Posani Krishna Murali) slowly changes lanes and turns into a lousy drama that involves morals and sins.
Lies and crimes go hand-in-hand. If you commit crimes, you obviously have to lie to keep them covered. But what if you’re buried under the debris of guilt? How do you get out of it? In The Name Of God doesn’t answer these questions. Instead, it wraps itself in unnecessarily long-winded plot points. There are around a dozen people that the series follows and Aadhi (Priyadarshi) is the most important of them all.
Aadhi is a driver and in a fair world, he would be treated with respect. But there’s no place on Earth that’s fair enough for all. While the people with money and muscle throw orders around, those who do not possess such luxuries, complete the tasks that are given to them without raising their voices much. It’s a pyramid in which the wealthiest and the strongest occupy the highest portion. Fakir (Uma Maheswara Rao) comes across as a rowdy who isn’t afraid of anybody in the initial scenes. The cops are even happy to take instructions from him, but, as skeletons tumble out of the closet, it becomes clear that he’s just another link in the chain.
Fakir, therefore, has a boss who’s mightier than him. Then, take, for example, the story that deals with Aadhi. In one of the early episodes, he’s beaten black and blue. He tries to sprint to safety. However, when he learns to start chasing, he doesn’t stop at the first thought of taking revenge. He wants his enemies to pay for the trauma that they’ve caused. He literally moves to the driver’s seat of the show. Although these individual layers are indeed interesting to chew on, they don’t sit well with all the roots of the narrative.
And the run time won’t give you a helping hand in catching up with everything at once. In The Name Of God is a seven-episode crime thriller where most of the characters appear as buzzing flies. They don’t really shake up things even though they’re billed as the main cast. Meena (Nandini Rai) and Thomas (Vikas), who are the prime movers of the tale in the opening hour, slip into the shadows of obscurity as soon as Aadhi takes control.
Thomas – the son of a pastor – returns to the folds of God after committing a handful of serious crimes, whereas Meena simply moves to another city in order to leave her past behind. Make no mistake, there are no folks who are honestly good at heart here. Well, you can argue for the sake of Thomas, but he’s more of a confused prick. He unburdens his soul by confessing his sins to a woman who later blackmails him. Try as you might, you can’t feel bad for him because somewhere in the dark corner of your conscience, you’ll think it is okay for him to suffer. His devil-may-care attitude abandons him when he needs it the most.
And I’ve saved the best bit about an annoying character, Rossi (Mohammad Ali Baig), for the last since he single-handedly makes In The Name Of God look horrendous. He chops the syllables down to the extent that he makes you feel he’s pushing them out of his throat from the chambers of different eras.. It’s the cinematic equivalent of being in the same room as somebody scratching a wall. You may, to your surprise, find out that he’s not alone in this regard. He’s joined by a bunch of other actors who speak Telugu as though it’s a foreign language. The deliberate shifting of gears in the pronunciation isn’t sweet to the ears. In fact, it kills some of the noirish punchiness.
Among the many things that happen in the show, a wedding takes place in all its hoopla and I’ll probably take the weekend off to ponder over the significance of the mega event from the perspective of writer-director Vidyasaagar Muthukumar. For Priyadarshi, In The Name Of God is undoubtedly a large vehicle. It allows him to scream, puke, mouth curse words, and break away from the hero’s friend stereotype in one go, but it’s not entirely a vehicle that has all of its parts in place. Its brakes miraculously don’t work.