Thinkistan (Season 1 & 2): Web Series Review
Cast: Shravan Reddy, Naveen Kasturia, Mandira Bedi, Neil Bhoopalam, Satyadeep Misra, Jayshree Venkataraman, Vasuki Sunkavalli, Shraddha Musale, Shashank Karmarkar, Kabir Bedi.
Director: Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy.
Language: Hindi, English.
Channel: MX Player.
Release Date:24th May 2019 (Season 1); 6th September 2019 (Season 2).
Set in the 1990s, Thinkistan is a story that revolves around two friends, Hema and Amit, both copywriters at an ad agency called MTMC, and their journey as they try to maneuver through different challenges in the mad world of advertising, as well as deal with struggles in their personal lives.
- Thinkistan is a window into the sensational, glamorous, and alluring world of Advertising, one that is brimming with creativity and talent, afloat in a sea of ideas and entertainment, and a highly competitive profession that has its own dramatic highs and lows, with a Sword of Damoclespermanently hanging over everyone’s heads.
- The series, set in the 1990s when the Indian advertising industry was witnessing a boom, delineates the changes and trends in advertising that proved to be definite and effective, continuing to the present day (such as the use of ‘Hinglish’). In this process, it skillfully pays tribute to several popular advertisements from the late nineties (For example, Liril’s waterfall ad, and Dhara cooking oil’s jalebi ad, among others).
- Shravan Reddy (Hema) and Naveen Kasturia (Amit) are two major pillars that keep the series propped up with their splendid performance. They effortlessly inhabit the character’s skin and persona, hitting the nail on the head with every line, every emotion, and every scene.
- Mandira Bedi makes for an endearing watch, and her portrayal of Anushka, the quiet and subtle yet strong-minded boss, is not just highly impressive but brings a soothing radiance to the screen. Another perfection of a performance that deserves to be mentioned is Satyadeep MisraasAshiq Jabeer, who is the elegantly enigmatic, wise, and gallant figure at the agency, always willing to help those in need.
- While Season 1 focused on Hema and Amit’s journey at MTMC, Season 2 gets bigger and better. It delves into the character’s personal lives even further, shines the golden spotlight on other characters, and ties together the several subplots into an intense storyline that keeps you hooked.
- William, played by Neil Bhoopalam, is the quintessential mean-spirited boss in the show, playing dirty tricks and office politics, pitting employees against each other, stealing ideas, and in general, being a destructive force towards all that is good at the agency.
- The series touches upon several heavy subjects such as homosexuality, homophobia, sexual harassment at workplace, gender discrimination, extramarital affairs, corporate politics, linguistic divide, pay disparity, etc.
- While it makes for an excellent watch through and through, the way the Advertising world is portrayed in the very first episode is disappointing. It goes overboard with the sex appeal at the start, before coming to the actual story.
- The series is set in the 1990s, yet the fancy office design and character costumes look too contemporary to seem like it belongs to that era.
- Season 1 is too busy trying to depict the glitz and glamour of the Ad world, and while grounded in reality, still misses out on depicting issues such as conflicts between colleagues, office politics, the cut-throat competition, and the dark and murky waters of the advertising world, which it seems to conveniently ignore. Season 2, however, saves itself from committing this mistake to an extent.
In the streaming world dominated by popular action-packed crime shows, political drama, and spy thrillers, Thinkistan is a breath of fresh air with its strong writing and first-rate performances.
- The original name of the series was ‘Ikigai’ before it was changed to Thinkistan, and the agency MTMC is modeled around post-1995 Lintas.
- Other than MX Player’s Thinkistan, actress Mandira Bedi has also worked in web series such as ALTBalaji’s Romil and Jugal, and Eros Now’s Smoke.
Also Read: Adulting, Season 2: Web Series Review