Stills from Gaalivaana
Stills from Gaalivaana

Gaalivaana series review: This remake needs more finesse, less melodrama

It isn't all bleak with Gaalivaana, which is moderately engaging. With just seven episodes, there is little time to notice logical gaps within the narrative
Rating:(2 / 5)

Gaalivaana's opening shot is of a young couple — Ajay and Geetha — on their wedding day professing their love for each other. They are high school sweethearts who were neighbors in the village they hail from. As the shot zooms out, the scene continues to play out on a television in a home in Vizag where Ajay lies dead with stab wounds, and a heavily stabbed Geetha is left to die. With such a gory cold open, the show has the makings of a whodunit, but the rug is pulled off from under our feet immediately after. 

Cast: Sai Kumar, Radhika Sarathkumar, Nandini Rai

Director: Sharan Koppisetty

Streaming On: ZEE5

Zee5's latest Telugu series is inspired by the BBC show One of Us, written by Harry and Jack Williams, and largely stays true to the original. It deals with an interesting premise. What if the murderer, who is on the run, lands up in the childhood home of his victims. The families are heartbroken over the news of their children's death, and suddenly find the killer in their custody. How Geetha's parents, her brother, and Ajay's single mother grapple with this conundrum is an intriguing setup that makes for the perfect crime thriller on paper. However, the finesse required to pull off the complexity of the plot goes missing.

The lack of finesse is best showcased in the way the mourning sequences are portrayed. The overall treatment of Gaalivaana doesn't do justice to the potential of the series. With each character having multiple layers, the show fails to explore their intentions with the required nuance. As this drags the showdown, the performance doesn't elevate the experience either. Save for Raadika Sarathkumar who plays the role of Ajay's mother Saraswati, the other cast members come off as amateurs on screen. Surprisingly, even Sai Kumar, who plays the role of Geetha's father Kommaraju, is disappointing. Considering the gravity of his character on the outcome of events within the series, his performance is largely one-dimensional.

The only thing that works for the show is its plot, and apart from it, Gaalivaana doesn't have much to offer to the audiences, who now have access to an impressive slate of crime thrillers on OTT. But, it isn't all bleak with Gaalivaana, which is moderately engaging. With just seven episodes, there is little time to notice logical gaps within the narrative. For instance, where does police officer Nandini (Nandini Rai) procure LSD? While it is clear that she is trying to procure funds to foot her daughter's medical bills, the narration doesn't organically reveal why she chose drug peddling as a side career. In a way, the quick progression of events does gloss over such flaws.

"The family is one of nature's masterpieces," said Spanish philosopher George Santayana. Gaalivaana, which centers on family — the obligations that come with it and the complex dynamics — aims to be a masterpiece, but falls a lot short. Gaalivaana might not be a giant leap in the Telugu OTT space, it is definitely a step forward. 

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