In a perfect world, censorship would have been eliminated long ago. It did feel like we were moving in that direction with the introduction of the internet and the availability of global material. However, there has been a continuous growth in conservatism, which has led to a massive call for censorship on both the big and small screens. There is no question that limiting the critical depiction of casteism, misogyny, sexism, and any other form of oppression is unacceptable, even while we can debate and dispute over how much on-screen adultery is too much. Because, although being fiction, they raise awareness of the wrongs done by nationalism and majoritarianism and call for society to advance towards an inclusive future rather than a backward one. While the real world continues to be unspeakably terrible, many series and films have been reviewed, restricted, and outright canceled for the incorrect portrayal of a state or a community. Artists have been made to apologize. Thus, the existence of a show like Dahaad in this environment is a great accomplishment.
Dahaad’s first season is set in and around Rajasthan and centers on a select group of characters. Anjali Bhaati (or Meghwal) is a tenacious police officer who battles casteism from virtually every bigot in existence and is relentlessly pursued by her mother to get married. Devilal Singh, Anjali’s senior, must strike a balance between carrying out his duties, assuaging politicians, and shielding his children from his wife’s conservative viewpoints. Despite being older than Anjali and Devilal and having a history of engaging in unethical behavior, Kailash Parghi works under them. Because he believes that no one should be forced to live in this hell, he also intends to obtain a promotion by carrying out the SP’s instructions. He also wishes for his wife to not become pregnant. Anand Swarnakar is on the other end of the moral spectrum. His son is named Kapish, and he is married to Vandana. At the nearby university, he instructs in Hindi. Both his father and his brother, Shiv, have a strained connection with him. Because of his abiding hatred for women, Anand finds time in the midst of all this to travel the state romancing and killing women with cyanide.
The authors of Dahaad begin by emphasizing the persistent (and very real) trend of political parties that take pride in their ancestry as upper-caste Hindus and gain support by demeaning, degrading, and harassing anyone and everyone from the Muslim community. They demonstrate how casteism is pervasive and accepted in this society. While it is true that all members of minority communities, regardless of gender, experience extreme levels of discrimination, women from these cultures often endure prejudice and pressure to not be marriage material. They also highlight the reality that if a criminal takes use of these social divides to prey on women, it is not just the perpetrator’s fault but also that of the discriminatory society through Anand’s motivations. However, in the fourth episode, the show begins to resemble a standard manhunt rather than a biting indictment of the interconnectedness of racism in society and religion-heavy politics. No, the showrunners continue to poke fun at everything that is flawed about Rajasthan and India. They definitely did a too good of a job incorporating their concepts into the story, making Dahaad feel a little cliche. By the way, given the aforementioned reasons, it can be completely purposeful.
Dahaad never loses its grip on the audience, even though at times it can feel tepid and the graphics can appear a touch washed out during its eight hours of running time. The obstacles in Anjali, Devilal, and Kailash’s lives—both professional and personal in nature—give the show a sense of emotional drive even when the main plot about catching Anand grows stale. The level of information is unquestionably a result of the writing. But a hearty round of praise should also be extended to the film’s directors, production designers, costume designers, cinematographers, editors, sound designers, and everyone else who worked in silence to create the immersive and oppressive experience. Instead of presenting the location like a tourist attraction, I especially liked how the True Detectives used the terrain to mimic the moral emptiness of the majority society that resides there. Despite the area and dialect being well-known, the production has a level of polish that is typical of international endeavors. Instead of striving too hard to imitate the Western style, in my opinion, it is the proper method to compete with your peers. Nevertheless, the music bothers me because it might be obtrusive. The sympathetic representation of the police is another thing that has always bothered me because it contradicts the actual and evil nature of Indian police.
However, I have no issues about the performances by the Dahaad cast. Sonakshi Sinha finally demonstrates the promise she showed in Lootera. It’s amazing to witness how she conveys both Anjali’s fragility and strength. She adjusts her tone as soon as she recognizes who or what she’s dealing with, and it all seems so natural. Additionally, it is somewhat admirable that she accepted this job to address casteism whereas her contemporaries accepted parts that were purely higher class and upper caste. A more demonstration of Gulshan Devaiah’s indisputable incapability to deliver a subpar performance. He has an immediate synergy with Sonakshi, Shruti Vyas, Mikail Gandhi, and Sammaera Jaiswal, all of whom are phenomenal on their own. As always, Sohum Shah is fantastic. It matters how he interacts with Swati Semwal. Technically, every scene he appears in is an acting masterclass. The same can be said of Vijay Varma, who demonstrates that being a villain doesn’t require you to be hysterical and mustache-twirling. Everyone, besides the core four, does an outstanding job. Vandana’s disintegration is expertly portrayed by Zoa Morani. Yogi Singha is excellent because he illustrates how radicalization can place in real life. The persistent nagging from Jayati Bhatia is unbearable. Sanghmitra Hitaishi, Rytasha Rathore, Prashansa Sharma, and Manjiri Pupala all demonstrate victimhood without relying on clichés. The list of outstanding performances just keeps going. So that you may fully appreciate the work that the show’s cast has done, feel free to pause and rewind between every other scene while watching Dahaad.
You might see this show and conclude that a man couldn’t possibly go on such a massive and well organized killing spree, similar to how the doubters in Dahaad threw such doubt on Anjali and her job. You can even assert that anything like this can only occur in a Hindi show currently playing on Prime Video. Let me inform you that there is a very clear similarity between Anand Swarnakar and Mohan Kumar, aka Cyanide Mohan, even though the show doesn’t expressly claim to take inspiration from any real-life situations. Around 20 women were killed by this very real person, the majority of them were drawn to him because they were fleeing their oppressive and backward families. Similar to Anand, Mohan used to give them cyanide-laced contraceptive pills to kill them. So, yeah, there are monsters like Anand who walk between us. But why do they have this opportunity? Is it not clear? We are giving the Anands and the Mohans the freedom to commit atrocities because we are so busy dividing and pursuing each other over our identities and other things. Yes, they are ultimately apprehended. However, the harm they cause while they’re there is irreparable. Eliminating intolerance is the only way to make this situation better. There won’t be any shadows or blind spots for criminals to thrive in if there is no darkness in our hearts. It’s a drawn-out process, but if we want to get anywhere, we have to start someplace. Anyway, these are simply my thoughts on the series by Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar. Please view it for yourself on Prime Video, form your own opinion, and let us know what you think.