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The Great Indian Murder Review: Clue-duh- Cinema express

The Great Indian Murder Review: Clue-duh

Six suspects and several flaws in Tigmanshu Dhulia's mystery series The Great Indian Murder

Published: 05th February 2022
Pratik Gandhi and Richa Chadha in The Great Indian Murder

There’s a fair bit of swearing across the nine episodes of The Great Indian Murder. This isn’t done in the Anurag Kashyap style of fervent self-expression—more in the Tigmanshu Dhulia style of lewd hyperbole. The director, it must be said, has made crudeness an art. One character, for instance, offers a rare expletive that hasn’t left my head. It’s intoned in Hindi and is present in the show’s trailer. Hint: it sounds like Chetan Bhagat.

Cast: Pratik Gandhi, Richa Chadha, Jatin Goswami, Ashutosh Rana, Sharib Hashmi, Mani PR, Paoli Dam
Director: Tigmanshu Dhulia
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar

The man doing the swearing is Vicky Rai (Jatin Goswami), businessman son of Chhattisgarh politician Jagganath (Ashutosh Rana). A scoundrel and a fiend, Vicky is arrested for the rape and murder of two underage girls. He’s acquitted three years later, and, delighted with the win, he throws a party. A cake is wheeled in — and there are fireworks. As Vicky looks up to admire them, he gets a bullet in the chest.

The series is based on Vikas Swarup’s famous novel, Six Suspects, and the number is kept intact. We meet Shabnam, a film star; Munna, a mobile thief; Eketi, an Andamanese tribal. Of particular interest is Mohan Kumar, a Gandhi imitator played by Raghubir Yadav. It’s a wicked piece of casting, the last one. Having portrayed the German führer in 2011’s Gandhi to Hitler, Raghubir has admirably changed sides.

The suspects — if it needs pointing out — represent a vast cross-section of India. We follow them not only across different cities but different ideologies, conflicts, strata. Two cops—thankless roles for Richa Chadha and Pratik Gandhi—drop in on the case, with their own motives and allegiances. The long list of characters and interconnections recalls Slumdog Millionaire—which isn’t surprising since Vikas had also authored Q & A, the source material of the 2008 Danny Boyle film.


Literary adaptations are a thriving genre on the Indian web. There have been some good ones — Sacred Games, Pataal Lok, Serious Men — and they’ve all tried speaking politically to our times. Not The Great Indian Murder. In fact, the series, adapted by Tigmanshu, Vijay Maurya and Puneet Sharma, can’t even face up to the past. In a revealing flashback, a much-younger Jagganath and his cohorts are gathered around a TV. They say things like, ‘history is being rewritten’ and ‘riots will rise'. They’re watching the Babri demolition, of course – but a visual isn’t shown.

Shashank Arora retools his Delhi thief from Titli. Sharib Hashmi drops by for a few episodes. The best performance, by far, is from Kerala actor Mani PR as Eketi. “Andaman different, Nicobar different,” he tells the cops. He’s portrayed with sympathy – though I’m not sure about a scene where he meets up with a Nigerian man in Chennai (as they share a drink, a version of Jiile Le Jile Le plays in the background).

The series goes around in circles. Each episode picks up a clue, skips back and forth in time, and joins in with the night of the murder. I’m all for subplots - except when they start to meander. The show, impressively, is devoid of a central moral axis. But its pieces don’t fit as a whole. No wonder the name Vicky Rai is repeated all too often. It’s so we don’t forget we're watching a mystery.

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