When Meera (Ruhi Singh, former Miss India) looks at Raghu (Faisal Shaikh, the TikTok star whose Instagram followers are almost at 16 million) and says, “Raghu! Let’s bang-bang!”, what ensues is a gun-fight — that is how virginal Bang Baang is. A 10-part series, 20 minutes each, about two ex-lovers who, years later, find themselves again on the same team, the series overdoses on visual and verbal swag to overcompensate the lacking sex.
Meera’s character trait is that on her engagement day, she looks at all the heels, and chooses to wear sneakers instead. Raghu’s character trait is like his hair, long-overdue a snip-snap that keeps brushing his vision, he keeps coming in the way. He is supposed to be charming, but his charm wilts like day old flowers. It is the kind of charm that mistakes overconfidence for being dependable. Meera and Raghu were lovers. But then years pass, and Meera is now engaged, and Raghu is still the wispy flirt.
Skeletal remains are unearthed and this brings Meera and Raghu back together in the same city — Udaipur. Meera is investigating it, Raghu is a suspect. The skeleton belongs to a certain Ramona, a daughter of the royal family to which Meera is now engaged. There’s conflict of interest on two sides — the victim and suspect. Yet, she walks into the crime scene wearing her ball gown engagement outfit.
When Raghu is locked in as a suspect, and is being interrogated, like Divyenndu’s unyielding calm swagger in Bichhoo Ka Khel, here too, Raghu winces looking at his ex-lover interrogating him, “Babes, protein shake kahan hai?”
The formula is simple: to bung in as many twists as possible, enough for you to stop thinking about the logic of it, with such sharp swerves of logic, you will forget why and where the whole damn thing began. By episode 3, I lost the point. By episode 5, I stopped trying.
At its best, this format of storytelling that ALT Balaji works with, is a celebration of the present moment — to just be, don’t ask why something happened, and don’t worry about why you are doing what you are doing. An almost nihilistic pursuit. This is, of course, giving it too much credit, but it is notable that they are able to churn out series like Bicchhoo Ka Khel, Dark 7 White, Paurashpur, and now Bang Baang, all of which run on this principle — to just keep going. There is little differentiating the writers room from a sugared up group of friends huddled on a carpeted floor playing Cards Against Humanity.
Tiktok star? Action-Revenge? Abs? Hair? Hrithik Roshan? The Crown? Rajasthan? It all goes!
What doesn’t is sex, or any remotely erotic moment, curated carefully so Faisu’s flirty fans don’t eke out in jealousy. Even his flirtations are so 1990s Romeo, content with the regular flashes of a ripped body without any bodice ripping. The will-they-won’t-they tension is not about the sex, it is about the case they have to solve, which keeps slipping from their hands — some new evidence, some new murder, some new twist, it keeps going, two twists longer than patience endured.
Even the lead investigator at one point, chokes on his chai when confronted with new evidence, and shrugs his shoulders, “Twist?” The show is self-aware, insofar as it begins to give quick 10 second recaps in the last few episodes. It cares enough for the audience’s hormones to keep Faisu shirtless through the climax, but not enough to give him the charmless sex scenes they usually do. There is no point labouring on the acting or writing because that wasn’t the point of any of this. The point was simply to squeeze sparsely sketched characters into sparsely sketched situations, giving the characters space to be aspirational (“hot”, billowing reverse engineered “smart” dialogues, a lover or two in tow, saying ‘Fuck’ a few hundred times, and doing Bang! Baang! with heels and helmets intact) without giving them too much space to develop fully, for the viewer to notice the cracks in the swag. Because who would root for them then?