Director Ashish R Shukla, along with writers Agrim Joshi and Debojit Das Purkayastha, standardises picturesque Rudrakund with a line-up of familiar suspects.
Rudra Valley, a school for the elite.
A jungle nearby that students wander into and get killed.
A monster with red eyes and antennae that pins bodies to the trees. Has a name too: Masaand, the small town myth.
A male student turns up dead. Nobody believes his distraught girlfriend Kalki (Riddhi Kumar) until other girls also start displaying attack marks left on their necks by Masaand.
Bhaiyaji Ranaut (Manu Rishi Chadha), as wicked as any politician and businessman can be, sacrifices people and animals like the heartless do.
Vayu Ranaut (Nakul Roshan Sahdev), his wayward son who wears a bunny rabbit suit, owns Lick Me Candy and makes candy laced with drugs. He’s, blink, blink, in bed with the police. Literally.
Female DSP Ratna Sankhawar (Richa Chadha) throws her weight around, is a tad too weighty to chase a baddie, has a weakness for the blink, blink boy, even gives him back his candy. There goes any semblance of a serious investigation.
Luka (Mikhael Kantroo), Vayu’s sidekick who doesn’t blink, moves from the periphery to a path of his own.
English teacher Jayant Parekh (Ronit Roy), with more agility and deductive ability than the cops, seems more invested in the students’ well-being than the police, principal or parents.
His grieving wife Sona (Anju Alva Naik ) who clings to a stone that substitutes for her dead teenage daughter, tells off baddies in refined English.
Principal Thomas (Gopal Dutt Tiwari) and a priest in the school chapel, counsel the traumatised.
There’s a “Sirji” on the prowl, as mysterious as Masaand.
A sprinkling of students includes the school’s own thuggish trio of Amar, Akbar, Anthony who distribute candy. The school’s divided into bullies and the bullied.
A spray of effs, MC-BCs, g…nd, b..ch and chu…s, especially from the students, cops and politicians, between papa Ranaut and candy boy beta too, is courtesy dialogue writer Abhinav Sharma.
The ground’s all set.
Without ever slipping into subtlety, it’s Masterji Jayant Parekh vs Cops; Masterji vs Principal & Priest, and Masterji vs politician & bunny rabbit son. Victims land in Masterji’s house. He’s the uncrowned super investigator, stonewalled by the devils of Rudrakund.
DSP Ratna swings from hot to cold, gets suspended somewhere along the way but no idea why she’s still got her gun, her uniform and her vehicle, besides being continuously on the case. Also no idea why she can’t get cops to keep an eye on her daughter but then blink, blink, she’s no paragon of virtue.
Spread over eight episodes are a Thai connection, grave lines from Jayant Parekh on Sermons vs Science, a crude fallout between the Ranauts with father and son hurling filthy abuse at each other, and a few more killings with “Sirji” orchestrating it.
Ronit as Jayant is earnest. Nakul as blink, blink candy boy is assured. And Mikhael Kantroo as Luka, the tall sidekick, has a presence about him.
Given the tropes and the slam-bang making with Masaand gobbling up the logic in places, the thriller relies on one element: to keep changing the colours of its characters. The wicked are good, the bad are not monsters, the perpetrators are not all black, and don’t trust the virtuous or the victims.
The essence of the thriller: blink, blink, we’re not as diabolical as we’re made out to be. There are bigger demons out there.
Watch the 8th episode with that thought and be armed for Season 2.
Masaand and the murderously wicked will be on the prowl again.