Kaala, created and directed by Bejoy Nambiar, follows two parallel stories of a father and son who must clear their names after being falsely accused of treason and corruption, respectively. However, the eight-episode crime drama toggles between too many characters, confusing viewers who are trying to understand the already dense narrative. The series stars Avinash Tiwary, Rohan Vinod Mehra, Jitin Gulati, Nivetha Pethuraj, among others.
Avinash Tiwary's Ritwik Mukherjee takes centre stage in Kaala as a determined, upright Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer, trying to chase down illegal money being taken across borders.
As the series progresses, Ritwik finds a link between his absentee father and the case he's currently working on. Kaala is set in two decades; the action begins in 1988 and comes back to Ritwik in 2018. The connection between the decades is slowly unveiled and made clear.
While the series is fast-paced, Nambiar and his team of writers have packed in too many details to follow. A slightly condensed storyline would have allowed the characters to be more consistent.
Avinash Tiwary's Ritwik is the main character of Kaala. But Rohan Vinod Mehra and Jitin Gulati also have key roles in the intense revenge saga. Tiwary makes sure his Ritwik is the character the audience most connects with. Mehra's Subhendu, a soldier deemed a traitor by the Indian army, is less fleshed out. Gulati's Balwant Rana aka Shakti Arya remains the series' most fascinating character with an intriguing transformation, which the actor pulls off well.
Nivetha Pethuraj has a strong accent in her Hindi dialogues. Her character Sitara, another IB officer is the main female character in the series. Elisha Mayor and Tiwary show good camaraderie.
There are several familiar faces in the cast from actors Shakti Kapoor to Mita Vashisht, Hiten Tejwani to Taher Shabbir, Mini Mathur to Shruti Seth that pop in and out of the story at different times. In fact, Kapoor doesn't even utter a single line on the show.
In his mission to track down the massive money laundering ring of reverse hawala, the noble Ritwik runs through many obstacles and sometimes gets very lucky. The series asks viewers to suspend disbelief a number of times as corruption and deception is unveiled at level. The twist at the end of Episode 7 was surprising. But, every few episodes, a new character perspective is highlighted which becomes tedious. It is again the same issue of telling audiences instead of showing them what happened, that plagues most shows and films these days.
The flashback sequences sometimes are unfocused, blurry and off-putting. The editing in the action scenes is also frantic while the visual effects to delineate between the past and the future are passable. In the latter part of the series, a bit of well-needed humour is introduced to lighten the mood. A bit more of those scenes would have been beneficial to lighten the tension every now and then.
Kaala's narrative also takes time to build up. If you move past the dense few initial episodes and stick with the show, Kaala reveals itself to be compelling in the latter half. The series' world-building is a bit complex, and some viewers might be lost. But if you have the patience, stick around.