When director Mukul Abhyankar rose to the challenge in adapting Ravi Subramanian’s book ‘Bestseller She Wrote’ (2017) as an eight-episode series for Amazon Prime, many were skeptical as to how he would pull it off. With the trailer looking promising, even though not much was given away, a ray of hope beamed for the director and his team as it upped the excitement. However, with the book having its own success, how well would Abhyankar do in reflecting this twisted story successfully on screen?
Tahir Wazir (Arjan Bajwa) is struggling to write his next book, 10 years after his first book having been controversial but a big success. Walking into a coffee shop where she is starting her first day, Tahir meets Meetu Mathur (Shruti Haasan), his biggest fan, with a life story more gripping than he could ever imagine. Hiring her as his assistant, Tahir begins to put pen to paper upon hearing of Meetu’s past. However, little does he know, that his new assistant’s life is more entangled with his own history, involving his wife Mayanka (Gauahar Khan) and the people she has working for her than he ever imagined.
The main casting for the series is well done and there was a lot of potential shining through. However, there are some areas where this falls short. Bajwa’s performance as the arrogant and complicated Tahir was a job well done, where he takes his audience on a difficult journey to try to figure him out, though at times it feels Bajwa himself doesn’t really understand his character and his attempt in being alluring is slightly clumsy. Despite this, he does have brilliant on-screen chemistry with both Haasan and Khan, which does make up for his shortcomings. Haasan as Meetu is also met with interest, where at times she makes her audiences slightly uncomfortable to keep them on their toes. Playing the glamorous, head-strong, ambitious Mayanka is Khan who can be said to be playing herself, but this too is forgiven, for it works so well with her character and she is often the only one people sympathise with. A more standout performance goes to Satyajeet Dubey who has to do more acting within his acting, in order for the dots within the story to align. Being the one character whose personality is revealed more early on in the series, his performance as Parth is unforgettable and he’s the one audience will remember. A special mention has to go to Mithun Chakraborty who plays CID agent Lokesh Pramanik. Though his character is strange, and he dons a very bad wig, Chakraborty is a fun act to watch on screen. His performance being great but his character seems too stereotypical – a quirky investigation officer whose nuances prompt him to think outside the box, where he can automatically solve a crime with his own way of thinking. This is an area where the series feels a bit lazy and starts to be more predictable and somewhat rushed towards the end.
Not a stranger to the thriller genre, Abhyankar hasn’t done too badly in holding his audience’s attention with ‘Bestseller’. The casting is good, though some performances are much better than others. It’s clear to see that giving his characters more complexities and making them have more three-dimensional personalities leaves the audience second-guessing themselves throughout the series. Many who have read the book may not be so impressed with how Abhyankar has told this story, as it may not match their own impression of their read. However, for those who are watching the series without any previous knowledge of its story, they may be holding onto their seats a little more. Abhyankar has made a good attempt at this adaptation and it seems he understands what it takes to make an ok watch but it rarely crosses this mark.
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