THE IN­DIAN DE­TEC­TIVE

India Today - - LEISURE - —Suhani Singh

The best part about Net­flix’s The In­dian De­tec­tive is that it’s only four episodes of in­tol­er­a­ble cru­elty. Only a masochist would suf­fer on af­ter 20 min­utes of episode one. Star­ring In­dian­ori­gin Cana­dian co­me­dian Russell Pe­ters, the se­ries is “ex­cit­ing” and “ir­rev­er­ent” to hear Net­flix tell it. But that couldn’t be fur­ther from the truth. The best joke here is the sight of Pe­ters drink­ing beer and watch­ing curl­ing on TV.

The sto­ry­line is a mess, too, go­ing back and forth from Toronto to Mum­bai, where a mon­tage of clichés and a tabla in­ter­lude say ev­ery­thing nec­es­sary about the film­mak­ers’ ca­pac­ity for in­ven­tive­ness. Cana­dian cop Dou­glas D’Mello (Pe­ters), sus­pended at home, gets drawn into a con­vo­luted case in Mum­bai. It in­volves a rich In­dian gang­ster, a Trump­like real es­tate ty­coon (Wil­liam Shat­ner), a mur­dered baba in an ashram, a cor­rupt po­lice com­mis­sioner and two white women hop­ing to find them­selves in In­dia. (They end up in Ka­math­ipura for some rea­son.)

The lame mon­tage can­not com­pen­sate for their de­ci­sion not to film on lo­ca­tion, and sets in Canada and South Africa don’t come close to do­ing jus­tice to Max­i­mum City. There are crowded lanes with street food stalls, a child beg­ging “Paise, Paise, Paise”, taxi driv­ers with trimmed eye­brows and babas mov­ing about. But so idyl­lic is this Mum­bai that the de­tec­tive’s pi­lot fa­ther (Anu­pam Kher) has a han­gar for his vin­tage plane.

Kher, a guilt­rid­den daddy with a heart prob­lem and plenty of li­bido, is the only ac­tor in the se­ries who can speak Hindi with­out a grat­ing ac­cent. As for the oth­ers, they even speak English in a con­trived drawl. Cre­ators Frank Spot­nitz and Smita Bhide trip over ev­ery pos­si­ble cliché in their quest to de­pict “the vi­brant al­lure of In­dia’s cul­ture”—such as when D’Mello asks how three un­der­priv­i­leged girls plan to pay for univer­sity and one says, “Pray to Saraswati”. But none of that is the worst thing about the se­ries. That comes at the very end, if you sur­vive that long, when sea­son one ends with a threat of more to come.

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