Starring Huma S Qureshi, Avantika Dassani, Parambrata Chatterjee
Directed by Rohan Sippy
Mithya is the kind of ballsy breakneck thriller that doesn’t shy away from addressing illicit sleazy relationships, even if it brings the protagonists’ heroism down by many pegs , and I do mean pegs, as the characters drink themselves silly and get their innerwear into a budge time after time.
Every main character in Mithya is flawed and to watch one of them turn around and act holier-than-thou after another makes a cardinal error, is ironical, to say the least.
Set in an idyllic tranquil hill station, just as the Sippys’ earlier web(of deceit) series Aranya, this one is about a Hindi teacher Juhi Adhikari (Huma S Qureshi) who doesn’t look she could teach Hindi, but seems happily married to Neil(Parambrata Chatterjee) until we see her making out in the school toilet with a colleague Vishal(Indraneil Sengupta), an insanely dangerous adulterous act that Rhea(debutante Avantika Dassani) witnesses.
From these beguiling sleazy beginnings, Director Rohan Sippy and his rigorous team of writers(Alvita Dutta, Althea Kaushal, Purva Naresh) construct a sinister spiral of deceit revenge and nemesis, all stewed in the juices of a steamy karmic cycle.
Undoubtedly the pace of narration is brisk. Mithya offers the kind of forbidden pleasure that one experiences when on a diet , stealing brownies from the refrigerator post-midnight when the family is asleep. It constantly prods the baser instincts in its characters , and by extension, the audience, and prides itself for its pulpy proclivities.
There are no intellectual /spiritual pretensions to this junk food for the soul, and that’s the way I like the whodunit. Admittedly there are some wild, thoroughly implausible leaps of faith in the plot which I cannot reveal(so no spoiler alerts required). But I wonder if it is possible for a teacher to send his dick-pic to a student in this day and age of MeToo, specially when he knows she is a certifiable troublemaker!
Compensating for the questions that arise while watching two women, a teacher and her bete noire a troubled borderline psychotic student , take each other on , are some rigorous rites of passage that take the storyline from one summit to another.
Interestingly, we are repeatedly shown the climax of the plot(a murder) at the tag-end of each episode, so that our curiosity is whetted not by the question. ‘What?’ but ‘Why?” and ‘Who?’. There are some unforeseen twists scattered enticingly across the episodes. Plus, there is some terrific acting here by all , particularly debutante Avantika Dassani who is spectacularly confident as a troubled teenager with a chip big enough to be boulder on her petite shoulder. Huma Qureshi as the teacher who has a lot to hide has shaped into an interesting actress in recent times.
As for Parambrata Chatterjee as her weak undependable deceptive husband, does he ever disappoint?
The men in the series are all weak or deceptive or both. There is a besotted watchman at a girls’ hostel(played by Krishna Bisht) whom Rhea manipulates for favours without actually doing him any sexual favours. He probably gets it off just watching her pretending to be grateful. Rajit Kapur as Huma Qureshi’s Juhi’s father is so weak and blemished he could make a neighborhood therapist go weak in his knees; and there is another father whom Sameer Soni plays as a smirking almost perversely hostile idiot.
Yup, the men get the raw end of the stick. It’s the women who hold this show together and expose the men for what they are: tactless opportunists.
Oh yes, there are two cops, a man and woman played by K C Shaknar and Bishaka Thapa, investigating the murder. They could be Parambrata Chatterjee and Raveena Tandon in Aranya. Small world.