Kudi Yedamaithe Series Review: A smart, riveting thriller

Ram Venkat Srikar

Kudi Yedamaithe translates to ‘when right becomes left’. The title, borrowed from a song penned by Samudrala and crooned by Ghantasala in the 1955 film Devadaasu, expresses the hazard of life taking an unexpected turn. When sung by a heartbroken and lovelorn Devadaasu, it carries a negative connotation, but for people craving for a decent Telugu series, Kudi Yedamaithe is definitely a positive turn, especially considering the library of titles it’s placed alongside in Aha.  

Streaming on: Aha

Directed by: Pawan Kumar

Starring: Amala Paul, Rahul Vijay

Sometimes, lack of expectations can bolster in warming up to a new title, but it can succour only until a point. After the first act or episode, the film or series has to stand up for itself to prove its mettle. On this premise, Pawan Kumar’s Kudi Yedamaithe, left me stunned with its delicious premise and on-the-point narration. 

The best part of the show, however, is how the screenplay doesn’t lay all its eggs in a single basket by excessively relying on the time-loop concept at its center. The screenplay, instead, complements the central conflict with a couple of other threads, which could have well sprouted into individual stories on their own. Thanks to the multiple tricks up its sleeve, not once does this eight-episode series feels undeserving of its runtime. 

The initial part of the screenplay oscillates between the perspectives of Adi (Rahul Vijay), an aspiring actor who doubles up as a food delivery boy to pay his bills, and Durga (Amala Paul), a police officer trying to crack serial kidnappings of boys under the age of ten. To add to her burden, she is mourning the loss of her lover. When Adi’s bike is hit by Durga’s jeep, they die and find themselves stuck in a time loop, reliving the same day over and over again. Coming from filmmaker Pawan Kumar, the director of break-out Kannada hits Lucia and U-Turn, and writer Ram Vignesh, just the time-loop element would have sufficed to pull off a mini-series. However, Ram’s script further heightens the suspense by introducing a murder mystery and a police investigation into the plot, and the time-loop takes a back seat to serve as the conflict and, at times, as a plot point impelling the narrative. 

With time-loop being an integral facet of the story, the series runs the risk of redundancy, but the way the writer parlays the repetitious nature and toys with the contingencies kept me invested. The repetitive nature is its soul; after all, the food delivery service Adi works for is wittily called RepEAT. The repetition, which some may find tedious, is crucial to the story because the characters, like viewers, are yet to get in terms with the retelling of incidents. We get to familiarise ourselves with Adi and Durga during this very time loop, and perhaps, this aids in making them likable characters, despite the lack of backstories. Take, for instance, Farooq Bhai (Hershad), Adi’s kind colleague. Farooq and Adi interact over lunch for half a dozen times during the course of the show, but each rendezvous has a new touch to it; the first time, it’s a casual tête-à-tête; when Adi learns about a credible threat to Farooq, the interaction emanates from a place of concern, so on and so forth.

The central performances too are commendable. Rahul Vijay and Amala Paul are tasked to perform the same scene over a dozen times and yet they manage to come up with different ways during each re-enactment. Expressing extremities is relatively easier, but the situations in Kudi Yedamaithe remain unvaried for the most part and the primary leads do a wonderful job at elucidating the variation in a story built on monotony. Even Adi’s gait and mannerism express joy when he starts employing the time loop for his benefit. Take the scene where Durga is woken up by her subordinate in her office and how she quickly rinses her mouth before meeting up with someone. These tiny details make what could have been another stock character (of a tough female cop) more human. The acting, of course, is backed by terrific writing, but it’s a thin line to trudge, which the actors surmount almost effortlessly.

The show is not infallible, though. While it does oversimplify the happenings (ex: cutting to glimpses of the past every time a character finds it repeating), the origins of the time loop remain obscure throughout, and fittingly, the story doesn’t make a fuss to get to its bottom. The ambiguity is a grey area. There are bigger predicaments for the characters to iron out and the show understands its — and the viewer’s — priorities; there is zero digression. 

If the time loop on the right doesn’t fascinate you, the investigation on the left will hold your interest. Kudi Yedamaithe is indubitably one of the better things to come out of Telugu webspace.

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