Puli Meka Series Review: A satisfying experience for crime drama fans
A neat, effective storyline that gets better with each episode
Crime drama is a genre where everybody's attention is pinned majorly on the climax. The story can succeed or fail, depending on how effective the closure is for both the characters and the viewers. The nature of a story and its structure notwithstanding, every thread in the narrative must lead us to answers, about those who lie behind the crime in question. The last few minutes of a series or a film are usually reserved for this revelation. But in Puli Meka, we know who the killer is, halfway into the series. Despite that, the series emerges as a winner as the rest of the story is an interesting, interconnecting series of events that keeps the viewer engrossed.
Creator - Kona Venkat, Director - Chakravarthy Reddy
Cast - Lavanya Tripathi, Aadi Saikumar, Suman, Goparaju Ramana, Raja Chembolu
Puli Meka starts as a serial killer story. A man is on the loose and kills multiple police officers in Hyderabad. We meet IPS officer Kiran Prabha (Lavanya Tripathi), who is asked to solve the case by a senior commissioner in Telangana Police (Suman). Kiran, who is an MA criminal psychology graduate and has prior experience in putting a serial killer behind bars, is transferred to the city and she forms a special investigation team along with forensic officer Prabhakar Sharma (Aadi Saikumar)to solve the crime.
There is a HIT 2-style red herring, where someone innocent gets captured first, only to be let off later. The serial killer angle in the first place proves to be all smoke and mirrors, as we get a personal vendetta subplot behind the string of murders, a la Imaikkaa Nodigal/Anjali Vikramaditya (2018). The Puli Meka alluded to in the title keeps us guessing, as the hunter becomes the hunted and vice versa. While the subplots involving Kiran’s past, Prabhakar’s family and Kiran-Prabhakar's engagement initially come off as a distraction, they gradually find a way to smoothly integrate themselves into the main murder. Every supporting character in the story and their personas in two different timelines play a role in moving the story forward, making Puli Meka an enjoyable binge-worthy experience. While the contrasting moral compasses of Karunakar (Raja Chembolu) and Pallavi (Siri Hanumanthu) come off as unrelatable to someone from a younger demographic, they do their bit in embellishing the larger narrative at hand.
Puli Meka as a web series in an industry where OTT is as a format of storytelling is relatively new, is a peculiar, paradoxical beast. The OTT-isms of Puli Meka, outside of its writing, are largely restricted to the dialogue, where we hear the characters speak more in English and use cusswords more freely than they would in your average Telugu film. The series, running for 8 episodes of half an hour each, is visually reminiscent of CID and the Crime Patrol series. Puli Meka has no qualms about spoon-feeding its audience. Take, for instance, a scene where Suman’s character finds out the identity of the main killer. The camera does a dolly zoom of his shocked face. While that alone is enough to tell us what he is thinking, we also see him tell the name of the killer out loud. That kind of detailing, redundant to certain viewers but essential to others, is what keeps Puli Meka a step above Television soaps and many notches below international series.
Lavanya Tripathi takes the centre-stage in Puli Meka, something rare for mainstream Telugu cinema. She gets not one but two introductory action sequences that are delightful to watch. As a viewer, you keep guessing what she is up to next, and that is quite impressive. Aadi Saikumar’s performance was sadly the series’s weakest link, his acting is dull and unconvincing. This is not a series you would watch for acting, cinematography or editing - the buck stops here with the writing. Puli Meka leaves people with an exciting cliffhanger in the end, and the series will continue to have a winning run as long as it keeps its stakes high and twists sharp.