This Taaza Khabar is stale


8 January 2023

Unfortunately, this taaza khabar becomes stale instantly. A feeling of dj vu hangs heavy on this series

This is one app or feature that all media organisations in the world would love to have. They will give their lives to procure it. Our story’s hero, Vasant aka Vasya gets it for free.

Vasant Gawde (Bhuvan Bam) lives in a Mumbai chawl and works with a local Sulabh facility. His mother, Alpana (Atisha Naik) works as a domestic help and has to steal money to celebrate his birthday. His father works with a tyre company and isn’t much of a likable guy. Vasya is madly in love with Madhu, (Shriya Pilgaonkar) a prostitute who is also liked by a local powerful politician, Shetty.

Nothing is going great for Vasya. Suddenly, one day as a return gift for helping a poor old woman who collapses in the toilet in the pay-for-use lavatory where he works, she blesses him saying “he will get everything before time”. And he starts getting to know on his phone what’s going to happen in this world in advance.

It’s from this point onwards, Vasya first becomes Vasant and then Vardan seth. He takes his team comprising his buddy Peter (Prathamesh Parab), his sweetheart Madhu, his mentor Mehboob (Deven Bhojani), and his daughter Shazia (Nitya Mathur) along.

To start with, Vasya uses the boon to help others and evade tragedies. However, soon greed takes over and he starts minting money. Wealth goes to his head and he starts doing all predictable things.

The content on the OTTs today is suffering from the premise-to-plot-perils syndrome. Concepts and ideas are good, they start off on a promising note but thanks to wishy-washy writing, and unimaginative and timid direction, they start faltering from the second or maximum third episode onwards.

The world of Mumbai chawl, a prostitute with a golden heart, rags to riches story, questions of ethics and morality dogging the protagonist are done to death plots and hence fail to excite unless treated differently.

Recently, ‘Faadu’ too had a slum-dweller as its hero. Abhay in ‘Faadu’ won our hearts and sympathy. So does Vasya. But there is a difference in the way their surroundings are depicted. While detailing was the hallmark in ‘Faadu’, Vasya’s background serves only as a backdrop here.

Bhuvan who debuts on OTT with ‘Taaza Khabar’ misses the opportunity to show the journey of Vasant from Vasya to Vardhan. He looks the same in pre and post-rags-to-riches journey. The same long locks with highlights. Only clothes change, and that too after the fourth or fifth episode by which it doesn’t even matter. He plays a Marathi guy and not even once he seems to have a Marathi accent.

It’s nice to see Deven Bhojani as Mehboob, a good Samaritan. Unfortunately, he has a very flat character. Given the phenomenal actor, he is (‘Sarabhai vs Sarabhai’, ‘Baa Bahu aur Baby’), he is completely wasted.

Shriya’s Madhu is largely a stock character and the actor sticks to the usual playbook.

Atisha as Vasya’s mother does what she can do best in the role of a mother whose son overnight becomes ‘king of Mumbai’. But to see J. D. Chekravarthy, who once played the title character in ‘Satya’ as the politician Shetty here is heartbreaking. A talented actor playing a character that gives him absolutely no scope even to get noticed in the ensemble.

The writers have failed to graduate the premise into a mature plot in which magical realism looks convincing. Like we had in ‘Kaiyum Kalavum’. Neither the superpower that Vasya gets makes sense nor does what he does after getting it. Director Himak Gaur has not infused anything new through their treatment of the subject which had a lot of potential.

‘Taaza Khabar’ is neither magical nor realistic. It is neither quirky nor addictive. Unfortunately, this taaza khabar becomes stale instantly. A feeling of déjà vu hangs heavy on this series playing on Disney+ Hotstar. Just like Vasya, the audience too knows in advance what is going to happen next.

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