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Digital Review: ‘Duranga’ (ZEE5)

‘Duranga’ is an Indianized adaptation of the popular Korean series ‘Flower of Evil’ (2020), directed by Pradeep Sarkar and Aijaz Khan. The general story of the original romantic thriller is still here, but the plot and approach is fresh. Although the effort to create something new out of an existing idea is commendable, with ‘Duranga’ it does not always work.

Sammit Patel (Gulshan Devaiah) is living the ideal life with his wife Ira (Drashti Dhami), until a string of murders begin to attract attention to his secret past. Rumours are, a serial killer has re-emerged, and the case is being investigated by none other than detective Ira Jaykar Patel. Slimy journalist Vikas Sarode (Abhijeet Khandkekar), who has a personal connection to the serial killer, is also on the case to find the most viral-worthy scoop he can get his hands on. And Sammit (if that is even his real name) needs to stay two steps ahead of both of them, while maintaining the picture-perfect life he has successfully curated.

‘Duranga’ has a great plot for a masala thriller, filed with crazy twists requiring a lot of suspension of disbelief and ignoring of loopholes. But its presentation as a standard crime-procedural not only glaringly displays the weak writing, it also sucks the fun out of all that could have been. This creative choice pushes the focus on unraveling the mystery, leaving the relationships this story heavily relies on as an afterthought. There is no banter or humour in the relationships; everyone is serious, cold, to-the-point. The only bonds that do work are Sammit with Vikas, and Abhishek with Prachi (Barkha Bisht), because they are given the time and space needed to grow in the story.

Unfortunately, the love story at the heart of ‘Duranga’ does not have the same fate. Gulshan Devaiah and Drashti Dhami lack the romantic chemistry required to make us invested. But more importantly, the care and attention to detail needed for an engaging romance is simply not there in the filmmaking. Another contributing factor this may be that Ira as a character feels severely underwritten. We never really know what her motivation is for anything, as a cop, as a wife, or as a person. It is the show’s biggest missed opportunity that Ira’s relationship with Sammit – such a vital piece of the overall plot – feels incomplete.

Luckily, Devaiah and Dhami are great at confrontation, as demonstrated in the major standoff scene at the end of episode 8. ‘Duranga’ overall is made as a thriller, and is at its best whenever danger is involved. Without the melodrama though, the suspense just isn’t as satisfying.

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