She: Web Series Review
“A web series about woman empowerment presented in a noir light. Does Netflix’s She do it with justice? Find out!”
Bhumika Pardeshi aka Bhumi– a simple constable in Mumbai Police. But it is all set to change as Jason Fernandez, an officer of Anti-Narcotics Cell (ANC) calls her in to pose as a prostitute for an undercover operation to catch an important player in the drug circle- Sasya. After catching him, Sasya reveals information about the master of the drug circle- Nayak. As the timid and shy Bhumi has a makeover to look the part to catch Nayak, there’s a whole new makeover her personality is also going through. Will she be able to get Nayak as easily as she did Sasya?
There have been a lot of shows coming out in March, and it’s a delight, especially in this quarantine. But all of them have been mediocre, nothing worth remembering. And then came Netflix’s She. Written by Imtiaz Ali and Divya Johry, the series has Ali’s usual traits- a vulnerably strong woman, personality transformation, non-linear plot; and all of these usual tricks of his come together to weave an unusual story that leaves you shaken.
She is a thriller in its entirety. It’s a story of a lady constable who is suddenly appointed for an undercover operation because the appointing officer saw some spark in her. Seemingly frigid and a plain Jane, Bhumi (Aaditi Pohankar) usually went unnoticed. She was just a money-bringer for her family and a cold, unfeeling, sorry-excuse-of-a-woman for her husband. Even her colleagues at the station never really saw her as a woman. But it all changes with one undercover operation. Sasya (Vijay Varma) sees behind this veneer of Bhumi’s indifference and invokes the ‘woman’ in her. Horrified at first, Bhumi runs away from this newly awakened sensuality she feels, but eventually she has to face it, and when she does, it is power personified.
Aaditi nails down this role of Bhumi to perfection. She fluently and gracefully adapts to her character’s changes; from the wallflower Bhumi to the centrepiece Bhumi, Aaditi carries them both with the underlying sense of awakening with a knack of an expert. It is commendable the way she makes her paradoxically written character come alive on screen without any glitch.
Another actor who deserves a mention is Vijay Varma. His character Sasya brings the few comical moments in the sombre vibe of the series. When he is caught, he starts spewing information to the police. Without any coercion. He is neither the loyal henchman nor a snitch we usually see, Sasya only cares for his life and his well-being over everything else. He is enamoured by Bhumi, the cause of his downfall, and his infatuation with her is perversely engaging. Vijay carries this Hyderabadi speaking gangster with ease, that instantly pulls you in.
Kishore Kumar G performs the fearsome and mysterious Nayak well in his short span. He plays Nayak’s reluctant criminal, with all his silent magnetism and menace justifiably.
Apart from Bhumi, there’s no noteworthy female character in the series. In fact, the male-studded cast of the show lends an aura of masculinity and patriarchy to the series, that helps in highlighting Bhumi’s empowerment among this toxicity much more prominently.
The neon-ish, grungy tone of the series establishes the noir genre of She to the detail. The hauntingly beautiful title track is aptly penned, composed and sung, and when it is played at the end, it summarizes the entire series on a satisfactory note.
Certain editing disparities aside, there’s nothing wrong with this Netflix original.
Like many of Imtiaz’s stories, She might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is one carefully and brilliantly brewed tea. Definitely worth a watch.
She marks Aaditi Pohankar’s debut on digital.
She is co-directed by Imtiaz Ali’s brother Arif Ali.
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