The first round of applause goes to makers Raj & DK for shifting the entire operation to a new territory with its own political battles.
In Season 1, the TASC force led by Srikant Tiwari (Manoj Bajpayee) foiled Plan A and B of ISI’s terror attack on Delhi.
With the Indian government labelling it a gas leak accident that was averted in time to save thousands of lives, the ISI is frustrated. Terror has to be kept alive. A tenuous thread is thus woven between Season 1’s Sameer (Darshan Kumar) of ISI joining hands with Bhaskaran (of the Tamil movement) in London. Common aim: to gatecrash, sorry, aircrash a vital meeting between the Indian PM Basu (Seema Biswas) and her Sri Lankan counterpart Rupatunga in Chennai.
But by moving en masse to the Tamil politics of Sri Lanka and its support base in Tamil Nadu, the look, the language, even the body language is detailed afresh, gifting Season 2 a new life.
The second round of applause goes to the beyond-the-script performances of Manoj Bajpayee, his loyal junior JK Talpade (Sharib Hashmi) and Priyamani as Srikant’s wife Suchi. With the writing offering a merry ride between Manoj’s crumbling family life and the TASC operation that must kill the Tamil-ISI plot, there’s chuckle, chemistry and a gripping narrative.
With Srikant’s daughter Dhriti (Ashlesha Thakur), a typical perpetually sour teenager with a boyfriend on the sly, and his son Vedant (Dhriti Vedant), cute as a button, along with Arvind (Sharad Kelkar), Suchi’s workplace fling from the last season, there’s a spillover of the familiar into the new episodes. The writing department led by Raj & DK and Suparn Verma (who is also episode director) thus retains the flavour of the past with the freshness of a new premise. It also keeps the family life and the anti-terror career of Srikant amusing and adventurous in turns, giving Manoj Bajpayee a playground of emotions to work with. And he goes at it like a champ. Especially when it comes to understated humour at the office when he tries to do a 9-5 IT employee’s job or when he visits a marriage counsellor. And when he finally explodes at the frustration of the 9 to 5 routine, you’re sort of waiting for it to happen.
Although Sharib Hashmi executes his scenes ably, he gets less playdough to amuse himself with than Manoj who gets the full toy store to help himself to.
Priyamani may have little to do but remains charmingly impressive nonetheless.
I know that Samantha Akkineni’s vast fan following will be cheering her but to be honest, if you weren’t acquainted with her work in the south, you’d wonder if she is blessed with only one expression. As Rajalekshmi alias Raji who went through personal hell before training to be a Tamil commando, Samantha is trim, agile and crackling in her combat. But the role gives her no freedom to move away from one morose expression that’s fixed from the beginning to the end.
Ultimately, it’s the sparkling new premise, the multi-tracks of the plot with a whiff of love jihad, and the other well-cast performers that make the new season a good thriller to watch this weekend.
At the end, Raj & DK throw in a hook about the Corona virus and China. A smart move to yet another fresh premise the next time around.