Yudh Is Pretentious
by Tejas Nair
Amitabh Bachchan is a phenomenal actor no doubt, and when he debuted in a fiction Television show last week I was in complete anticipation of the final result. As Anurag Kashyap sits in the creative team, my hopes went up. “Yudh” is dubbed as the most expensive fiction show ever (INR 3 crore per episode), but after watching the first five episodes, I doubt if that stat is credible.
The pilot seemed to understate what it has in store by revealing very little about its plot. Bachchan’s performance is fine and it would be real treat for his fans (not me) to see him enact the role of a stalwart. After watching the first episode, I came to a conclusion that Yudh looks sensible and more like a solution finder (or at least promises to be) for India’s greatest real-time problem, “graft.” Then I watched the subsequent episodes and I was wrong.
From a critic’s point of view, the show is pretentious in all its aspects. The plot revealed all it had in the next three episodes and now it looks like it is buffering for a story. Yes it has one good point left, a character which is invisible as of now and actually running the whole story, but if I were to relate it with the inferior art standards of the show, my 2 year old niece could guess who the guy is. But I’m sure it will be one of the 721 new characters the show is slated to introduce in the remaining 15 episodes (20, in total). You will be ingested with ennui-producing entertainment capsules as you continue watching the show. The first episode was interesting, definitely, because it left me wanting for more; the story I mean.
But, if you look closely at the production, you will notice that the screenplay is like a few switch-controlled videos. It looks like a few scenes out of these videos, played in random. It wouldn’t confuse you, but it will leave you irritated, if you have been exposed to pure screenplays before. Only the mother of the director
knows who he is, and I would appreciate if it stays that way because when such a brilliant cast is made to play tic-tac-toe on screen, you can only imagine how terrible the direction is. Bachchan handles the situation but Zakir Hussain fidgets while he is conversing some important plot points. What a pity! Also, the rest of the non-popular cast overacted throughout the show.
Bachchan plays Yudh aka Yudhishtir Skarwar, an influential figure in the construction business, who is a diseased, righteous and honest man, and his reputation precedes him among the bureaucrats and city-runners. His familial life is not pleasant as he deals with an ignorant wife, an estranged daughter who happens to have a boyfriend with British-accent and a licensed gun, a dumb son and a rowdy brother-in-law. His righteous attitude plays against him as he plans to shift to mining business, which is marred with the g-word. But then again, his local life is being played with the anonymous entity I mentioned before. The storytelling is fine, but I am still not satisfied with the editing and this is not in comparison with even Indian standards. Of course I am not comparing it with our soap serials, but still, the costumes, the setup, the polishing, the decoration – everything is substandard. I was expecting a polished start (last we saw in Anil Kapoor‘s 24; it wasn’t perfect but superior), but what I did get was a bunch of grim expressions by Bachchan, Hussain and the quirky Kay Kay Menon. Many sub-themes are hackneyed that we are so heavily familiar with. The makers should have known by now that we no longer appreciate cliche.
The sound mixing and editing are the two worst things about Yudh. Like Aniruddha Guha has mentioned in his DNA post, “the emphasis on dialogues is higher than the average show, having to strain my ears a couple of times to ensure I understood each dialogue delivered by Bachchan.” It wasn’t my TV set I am sure because others did fine. And what about the title sequence? International veteran TV shows die by their title sequences (Game of Thrones‘ even won an Emmy) and here we have a slideshow of photos amateurishly clicked from a VGA camera of high-rise buildings and construction sites against a sad score. And that reminds me, the BG score for the show was either forgotten to be added by the editors or was never produced.
Coming to cinematography, the culprit of the show. I can deal with shaky cams and I even liked Ben Affleck‘s infamous directorial short, but this is just unbearable. What, a child is handling the camera? I don’t know.
I couldn’t conclude anything before the first week, so I waited and now I am positive that there is no hope for improvement with what seemed like a revolutionary TV show. Of course, Yudh is watchable and I AM going to continue watching it for the heck, but as a matter of fact, it is just a pretentious potboiler, existing to rake in moolah from Bachchan’s first time TV appearance, further energized by his matchless fame.
What’s worse? I hear the whole premise is copied from an American TV show called Boss. By the look of it, Yudh is dangerously uncanny. And now I learn that that show was cancelled by its showrunner before completion. I wonder how the creators (or plagiarists) of Yudh will deal with it.