Same old gangster drama.
Bambai Meri Jaan (Hindi)
- Cast: Kay Kay Menon, Avinash Tiwary, Kritika Kamra, and Vivan Bhatena
- Director: Shujaat Saudagar
- Producers: Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani, and Kassim Jamagia
- Music: Salvage Audio Collective
- No. of episodes: 10
- OTT platform: Amazon Prime
The Indian entertainment industry has long been fascinated with crime stories, especially those that emanate from the “underworld” dating all the way back to the 1940s.
It all started in Bombay (Now Mumbai) with the emergence of the infamous trio — Haji Mastan, Varadarajan Mudaliar, and Karim Lala.
Later, during the 1980s, the organised crime organisation witnessed the emergence of a new leader — Dawood Ibrahim. He went on to become the most wanted criminal in India and was eventually labelled as a global terrorist.
Bambai Meri Jaan web series is nothing less than the retelling of the emergence of the underworld in Bombay/Bambai with Dara Ismail Kadri (based on Dawood Ibrahim) as its epicentre. However, it adds an emotional touch to the whole criminal saga.
Rest apart, it has all the ingredients required for an underworld masala with some new ways and methods of barbaric killings showcased on the screen.
The 10-episode web series, each with a duration ranging between 36 minutes and 56 minutes, opens with a scene set in Bombay in 1986 where Dara Kadri (Avinash Tiwary) is made aware that Malik, a police officer, is on his way to arrest him and that they have one hour time to run away.
However, Dara’s father Ismail Kadri is not ready to leave India and he even warns that he would shoot himself if forced to do so.
This sets the tempo of the series — the principle or the ideological differences between a father and his son.
Directed by Shujaat Saudagar, the series runs back and forth between various timelines between 1945 and 1986.
The first three episodes are about Ismail Kadri — how he started as an honest police officer and eventually worked for Haji.
The saga later continues with Dara coming into the picture and making it big with titbits about the rest of the main players including Haji and his two partners. It also introduces Chota Babban (based on Chota Rajan) in the final episodes.
At the outset, the web series is a full-on underworld drama that showcases how an ordinary person made his way into the criminal world. It also depicts the means and ways he used to retain the criminal empire.
But the real deal with Sujhaat’s Bambai Meri Jaan is the emotional bonds between the fictional characters based on real-life ones. The foremost is the relationship shared between Dara Ismail Kadri and his once-honest father Ismail Kadri.
The tussle between the two is over the principles they believe in. Senior Kadri has a reason to work for Haji, while the junior’s way is to make it big in life by any means hook or crook.
Even the mother, sister, brothers, friend, and a few loyal characters add some depth to the script and the experience of this period crime thriller.
Women characters — Dara’s mother Sakina Ismail Kadri (Niveditha Bhattacharya) and Habiba (Kritika Kamra) find relevant space in this thriller crowded by men.
The director has embedded a couple of lovely tales, too, to give it a romantic spin here and there.
The other exemplary aspect of Bambai Meri Jaan is how the grand old Bombay is shown.
The detailing of some of the locations and the characters are shown to near perfection. It does take the audience back to the 1980s.
Beyond the retelling of Dawood’s story, the thriller survives solely based on the performances led by the brilliant Kay Kay Menon and then further continued by Avinash Tiwary as Dara Ismail Kadri.
Avinash hits another century in acting after his recent portrayal of Chadan Mahto in the crime series Khakee: The Bihar Chapter.
Bambai Meri Jaan is the new version of India’s most wanted man’s tale from a different emotional backdrop. Watch it only if you can spare 6-7 precious hours of your life.
(Views expressed here are personal.)