Web Series Review | The Night Manager' sees the light of the day
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Ajit Andhare
Let’s begin by addressing the elephant in the room. ‘The Night Manager’ as is known by now is a Hindi adaptation of multiple award-winning English series of the same name. It is not a frame-to-frame remake of the original which was based on an eponymous novel by John le Carré. It is a faithful remake that beautifully transforms itself to Indian tastes, sensibilities, and socio-economic and political conditions.
Hence, the story unfolds against the backdrop of the Rohingya crisis unfolding in Bangladesh where we meet the hero of our story who is working as a night manager in a hotel. Shaan Sengupta, played by Aditya Roy Kapur, is a former Navy officer who is now content working in the hospitality industry. Circumstances force him to grass up against an arms dealer which ultimately leads to the murder of a young whistle-blower girl. Consumed by the guilt, he is later successfully brainwashed by Lipika Saikia (Tillotama Shome) to work for Indian Intelligence agencies to infiltrate the inner circle of the mastermind of arms smuggling, Shailendra ‘Shelly’ Rungta (Anil Kapoor). And thus begins the journey of the lone wolf vs the merchant of death which unfolds in neighboring Sri Lanka.
The first episode itself makes things pretty clear here. While the makers have been successful in adapting it, they have not been so successful in making it engrossing enough. It gets the look and backdrop right but fails to recreate the thrill, tension, and intricacies required for an espionage drama.
Sophie becomes Safina, Roper becomes Rungta, Jed becomes Kaveri but they do not have the same impact as the original series had. Corky, who was second-in-command in the original, gets an LGBT spin here unnecessarily. While Saswata Chatterjee does lend credence to his character suggestively called BJ, his dialogues like "I love spooning" could have been totally avoided.
For some reason, only the first part of the series comprising four episodes has been released with the announcement of the next to follow soon. However, this serves as a major hindrance as the story is known to all already. Watching the first part has made it evident that one can not expect any major twists or turns here. So, the wait for the second part compared to the first will diminish with the passage of time.
Casting Anil Kapoor to play an arms dealer masquerading as a philanthropist businessman is an interesting choice. He does try his best to be as wily as possible. He makes a jhakaas entry and quickly makes audiences realize that he is not the AK they have seen so far. This time he is here to play a much more sinister character and does so with aplomb.
However, the star of the show is Aditya Roy Kapur. First, he looks the part. He certainly has a lean physique and uses it well to portray Shaan Sengupta with an understated resilience. Among the female cast, only Tillotama Shome does leave an impression as a well-intentioned intelligence officer who wants to execute a secret operation on her own. The portrayal of Kaveri as the mistress of Shelly Rungta is too weak. While Elizabeth Debicki had brought out the sensuousness and vulnerability of Jed, neither of the two happens here.
The story has been adapted by Shridhar Raghavan and Sandeep Modi. Raghavan has written the screenplay as well while the dialogues are by Akshat Ghildial and Shantanu Srivastav. The series has been directed by Sandeep Modi and Priyanka Ghose. The entire behind-the-camera team deserves the credit for Indianising the show brilliantly which can even come across as a fresh creation for those who haven’t watched the original one. Unfortunately for those who have, it has not much new to offer.
So, once you decide to check in this creative accommodation on Disney+ Hotstar, do start with its Bond moviesque title montage. It’s well done for sure.