Rudra : The Edge Of Darkness (Disney+Hotstar, 6 episodes)
If you have seen the original BBC series Luther,then you will enjoy the Indian adaptation even more. Contrary to what you are being told by learned critics there is no hidden mystery in this farfetched fascinating study of crime and the city.The crime and the pepetrator are out in the open from the outset. It’s not the who , it’s the how that manoeuvres this series from crime to closure.
Ajay Devgn is suitably brooding and sultry as DCP Rudraveer Singh, known to friends as simply Rudra; not that he has too many friends and even among the few that he does, one of of them eventually turns traitor. Rudra is a very troubled man. His marriage is on the rocks. His wife(Esha Deol, making a pleasant comeback) is seeing another man(the talented Satyadeep Mishra) and this man seems more caring,considerate and compassionate than Rudra who spends all his time hunting down vicious unsavoury killers.
How he has managed to remain sane is a bigger mystery than anything that happen on screen.
Right at the start he establishes a yawn sambandh with a redhaired femme fatale Alia Choksi(Raashi Khanna) a selfstyled ‘genius’ who is accused of murdering her dog and parents, in that order. While Alia is being interrogated Rudra yawns. She doesn’t yawn back. That is supposed to be proof of her guilt. Don’t ask me how. Ask Rudra.
He knows things that we don’t as he hunts out killers the way Alsatians sniff out intruders. His seniors are extensively exasperated by Rudra’s extempore work ethics. He is constantly reprimanded by is boss, played by the wonderful Ashwini Kalsekar who for a change plays a non-comic character.
Interestingly Rudra, a much-feared cop , is constantly bullied by the three women in life : his wife, boss and the mysterious genius Alia who seems to have a head for homicide that comes in handy for Rudra as he tracks down some really nasty criminals.
The most despicable of them is a modern art painter named Siddheshwar Kumar who kidnaps young women and uses their blood instead of paint on his canvas. A bloody loathsome slippery psycho whom Rudra nabs through a trail of clues that don’t really add up. What keeps us glued to this episode is K C Shankar’s chilling portrayal as a psychopath.
But the episode that grips you in an edge-of-the-seat way is the one featuring the brilliant Hemant Kher (he played Harshad Mehta’s brother in Scam). A timid taxidriver by day, Mahesh gets seriously psychotic by night.The episode has layers of dark blistering anger and humiliation. It is a killer.
Rudra , the series and the protagonist, convey a distant brooding intensity that builds into a slowburn experience of considerable interest. It is not without its flaws. For one , the terrific Atul Kulkarni’s buddy-buddy act clashes his all-white hair with Devgn’s jetblack head. One of the two needed to dye.
A lot of the cop-tropes from the original series has dated. Director Rajesh Mapuskar yanks the dark simmering drama of discontent out of its frozen format to give it an irresistible fiery, fluid flavor.
Devgn is terrific in the central role. He brings in his star aura to give the series a scintillating thrust. Some other players in the cast could have been better. But I am not complaining. Rudra is riveting when it is not temporizing and a winner for Applause Entertainment who have been on a winning spree.