Hostages Season 2 Review: A twisted thriller that just about works
Pulpy scenarios and a stout Ronit Roy anchor the follow-up season of the Hotstar Special series
Some shows end on cliff-hangers. Hostages, whose debut season premiered last year, had stopped mid-crash. CM Handa (Dalip Tahil) had survived, smuggled out of his deathbed at the last minute to face his past. Season 2 resumes with Handa and his kidnappers — led by Prithvi (Ronit Roy) — on the run. As the city unwittingly prepares for the minister’s funeral, Prithvi and team head out for Nepal. However, they are ambushed on the highway and take refuge in a dilapidated house. All this happens in the opening 30 minutes, so you’d better be taking notes. Unlike the title of a rival show, Hostages won’t let you breathe.
The first season of the Hotstar Special series was helmed by Sudhir Mishra. Adapted from the Israeli show Bnei Aruba, it took a curious interest in the warped dynamics of a hostage situation. It was a show where kidnappers offered relationship advice and snuck around for afternoon quickies. Parenting, too, was presented as a mild form of Stockholm syndrome.
Cast: Ronit Roy, Divya Dutta, Dino Morea, Shibani Dandekar, Shweta Basu Prasad
Director: Sachin Mamta Krishn
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar
The new season, which is directed by Sachin Mamta Krishan (Sudhir is credited as series director), keeps proceedings cut-and-dried. The main drama ping-pongs between Prithvi and the ATS officers (Divya Dutta, Kanwaljit Singh, and others) closing in on his case. In a pandemic year, it can get stuffy watching a bunch of people cooped up in a creaky old house. As though to offset this, the writers introduce a chain of side-quests. A snoopy intelligence officer (Shweta Basu Prasad) joins the fray. Shibani Dandekar plays a businesswoman sent in for damage control. And there’s an assassin (Dino Morea) killing people on both sides.
From the start, the show is riddled with small absurdities. We follow these players over four impossibly action-packed days. It’s never made clear when they take naps or grab a bite. Surely they charge their always-ringing phones? How about a bath in the hot Delhi weather? The pace is severely jacked up around midway, with a grand natural gas conspiracy rearing its head. The plot swings ambitiously in all directions, a blur of pulpy scenarios and standoffs that just about works.
In Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Al Pacino delivered one of his greatest performances as Sonny Wortzik, a first-time bank robber subjected to enormous pressure. Prithvi Singh appears to be the anti-Pacino: a man of unflappable nerve and a stoic, withdrawn cool. He doesn’t break sweat when negotiating with cops or managing sudden crises. Of course, his years in the force explain the ease, but it speaks to Ronit’s stoutness as a performer that we buy into the character at all. “What’s our plan?” Prithvi is asked in episode 8. “Pata nahi yaar...” he replies calmly. “Sochta hoon.” I don’t know, buddy. I’m thinking.
This is a show obsessed with the truth. “You’re making a mistake,” says a reporter eager to go on air with a half-baked lead. “No, I’m stopping one,” her editor responds. It hardly matters who turns out right in the end. The fact that Indian newsrooms still care for such a discussion is reassuring enough.