THE INDIAN DETECTIVE
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.