Candy On Voot Select Is A Derailed Investigative Drama, Even Richa Chadha And Ronit Roy’s Realism Can’t Salvage, Film Companion

Everyone’s a little mad in the mountain town of Rudrakand, or they are just really into camp circumstances. Either way, the tone of this 8-part show, created by Agrim Joshi and Debojit Das Purkayastha and directed by Ashish Shukla, is off the charts. A warden hallucinates his dead daughter in pristine white clothing, his wife believes the daughter reincarnated as a stone, drugs are supplied as neon candies by a man with cornrows, who wears a rabbit mask, a supernatural animal with mercury vision is on the prowl in the misted, montane forests of Rudrakund, the headmaster lives in a house flushed with bright pink lighting, and the police are hand in glove — sometimes metaphorically, sometimes sexually, literally — with the putrid network of politicians, politicians ka beta, etc. Oh, and the politician knits cardigans. In the midst of this camp chaos, one of the students at the school is found murdered in the forests, and another goes missing. 

Masterji Jayant Parekh (Ronit Roy) is the warden, the mentor of the boy who was murdered and the girl who goes missing. The investigation leads to a groundswell, because it falls into a pattern of murders committed by a supernatural beast, Masaan. But does Masaan exist or is the beast a front for the drug-peddling, politician-enabled empire of debauchery? Or… wait a minute… Is it the beast within? 

The 40 minute episodes track the investigation of DSP Ratna Sankhwar (Richa Chadha) who is the feminine reprieve in this male orgy of violence. She is the definitive protagonist of this show, because the moral arc — from indifferent to insistent, from ruthless and screeching to measured and kind — is hers to trace. 

The show, from the very beginning is faced with a tonal discrepancy — the situations, plot points are exaggerated, almost silly, while the acting is uniformly real, as if the acting and the film were taking place in different dimensions. The show has some splendid moments of drama, but it forsakes it because the acting is unable or unwilling to match the circumstances — take the scene where a man is hung from the railing of a bridge and burnt while people chant and throw stones at the corpse. It’s such a visual moment of drama, of disgust. But it plays out with a kind of skip in the step, ending as soon as it begins. It is this unwillingness to play to the exaggerated circumstances that makes Candy, a show that could have aspired for camp excellence, really just a boring, tied down investigative where logic is sacrificed at the altar of zig-zag twists. Just one of the many, very silly dramas we have endured since streaming bolstered the genre of logical freefall. 

Candy On Voot Select Is A Derailed Investigative Drama, Even Richa Chadha And Ronit Roy’s Realism Can’t Salvage, Film Companion

Ronit Roy is such a warm, reassuring presence, but he is constantly undermined by his forced lowering of the voice, his stuttering in moments of fear or anxiety. After a point, he gave off that well meaning but insistently grating vibe, it almost is a chore to sit through scenes where he speaks more than 5 sentences at a stretch. Richa Chadha sleep walks through a role that is so lazy that an entire backstory of abuse, murder, and child rearing is given at one go, within 5 minutes. Ditto for the charming Gopal Dutt Tiwari who plays Headmaster Thomas with an arid indifference. 

There is another lazy track — that of bullying and its aftermath where the school bullies Sanjay, Imran, John, (Amar, Akbar, Anthony) have a change of heart, and from menacing little pricks they become morally upright slogs, that even the story dispenses off of them after a point.

I really wish they went somewhere sublime, somewhere nutty with all that bawdy energy — the candy company is called “Lick Me Candy”, there are tonnes of odd sex jokes, and XL genital sketches, with characters asking very matter of frankly, “How’s her ass, motherfucker?” All that crass energy, and this is the end product? A tonally confusing, logically derailed, emotionally empty snooze-fest? How unfortunate. 

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