Web Series Review | The Night Manager: Rich Cast For Imperfect Narrative

The Night Manager is an official remake of the British TV crime thriller series of the same name based on the John le Carré’s novel created by Sandeep Modi and Priyanka Ghose. For the audience who have an appetite for crime thrillers involving spy craft and deceptive characters with twists and turns might appreciate. Moreover, Anil Kapoor’s presence in the series naturally adds to the excitement coupled with Aditya Roy Kapoor headlining the cast.

The Night Manager is about Shaan Sengupta (Aditya Roy Kapur), employed as the night manager at a luxury hotel in Bangladesh. Shaan stumbles upon a strange looking mother-daughter duo (Supriya Shukla and Arista Mehta) as his guests only to later find that the girl is the wife of one of the owners of the hotel. The girl approaches Shaan to help her escape from the clutches of her husband of a forced juvenile marriage. It is revealed that the owner is involved in illegal arms dealing and is working for Shailendra Rungta aka ‘Shelly’ (Anil Kapoor), who presents himself as a business tycoon but is a supplier of illegal arms. Shaan acknowledges the concern and prepares to help her. But before Shaan could execute his plan to get the girl out of the country, she is eliminated. Shaan involves the Indian intelligence agency and in turn is asked to infiltrate Shelly.

To be frank, Anil Kapoor is the real draw for most of the audience and I don’t mean to hurt Aditya Roy Kapoor who gets a raw deal to lead a story as the protagonist facing a mammoth actor like Anil Kapoor on the other side of the table. So, The Night Manager is double the excitement for fans of both Anil and Aditya. Aditya Roy Kapoor sinks his teeth to get that the right balance playing a smart night manager and switching gears into a cunning and fearless spy.

Though one likes to see the actor who doesn’t age, Anil Kapoor as a charismatic antagonist, it seems that the towering actor’s character remains stunted and doesn’t send out the required chill amongst the audience. One reason could be that these could be the formative built up episodes for something more fierce to come later.

The other actor and character that pulls the attention is Saswata Chatterjee, who plays Brij, a gay businessman with an eye for details and is Shelly’s most important man and partner. Somehow, we cannot but forget his most recognized character as Bob Biswas in Kahaani. Kudos to him in the way he has portrayed the character; he looks more menacing than Anil Kapoor. The makers have smartly spread the chill amongst various characters for viewers to stay alert throughout the runtime.

The other important character on the right side is Lipika Saikia (Tillotama Shome), RAW’s Bangladesh desk agent. She is the link between the right and the wrong. Every time she appears on the screen, she brings in some sort of fresh twist to the goings on.

And how could one take off one’s eyes from Kaveri Rungta, Shelly’s wife, played by the seductive and charming diva Sobhita Dhulipala. However, the character is very feeble and linear. She has very little to contribute to the first part of the series. Though at times one gets confused about her intentions and capabilities but overall, I want to believe that the best is yet to come.

From what is seen in the first four episodes of season 1, it appears that the making and release strategy is conflicting and that might hamper the overall impact of the narrative that hinges on the twists and turns resulting in action. The Night Manager moves at a lethargic pace with not many cards to draw out. The first half of season 1 concludes on an abrupt note leaving the audience dismayed. The viewers will have to wait for some more time to experience the highs at the cost of marring the overall experience.

The Night Manager deserves some appreciation for its visuals. The cinematographer duo Benjamin Jasper and Anik Ram Verma make the narrative look stylish with international gloss. The series, so far, seems to be shot on limited locations including Shimla but captures them to look grand with rich production values.

Overall, for those who haven’t watched the British version, this Indian adaption of The Night Manager would not prove unworthy though a word of caution that though we like to hear the word cliffhanger for an interesting twist, here it ends so abruptly that you are caught unawares and have to be reminded that the rest will be followed soon. The first season has eight episodes releasing in two parts of 4 episodes each.

Web Series: The Night Manager
Directed By: Sandeep Modi, Priyanka Ghose
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapur, Sobhita Dhulipala, Tillotama Shome, Ravi Behl, Saswata Chatterjee, Supriya Shukla, Arista Mehta
Episodes: 4 of 8

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