Beyond stocking up groceries and essentials, what we need now the most is an adequate dose of humour to liven us up – there’s no better time than now to appreciate its therapeutic value, given the gloominess that surrounds us. Asalem Jarigindante, streaming on MX Player, tries to fill that void as it explores the travails of an oversized, timid husband with his aggressive wife. The six-episode series that barely adds up to 90 minutes is a comedy-of-errors tale where the wife loses her memory in a road accident and the husband uses it as an opportunity to wrest control of the marriage.
The best part of this show is that it doesn’t take itself seriously and is very self-aware. A goon in the film tells the protagonist Siddhartha, ‘This is no movie, it’s a web series, chill! Tt’s supposed to be light’. To which he responds, ‘It’s a series shot with the scale of the movie. I don’t have the budget to hit you with a spanner though’ and turns off electricity, smashing the goons with a fork. The doctor noticing an X-ray scan says the ‘print’ hasn’t come out well and the protagonist gives him a duplicate X-ray copy as a backup. Asalem Jarigindante knows that it’s silly and almost celebrates its ridiculousness, but such moments of clever improvisation are far few and between.
The germ idea of Asalem Jarigindante is interesting. The wife Geetha after losing her memory in the accident is full of questions about how she forged a relationship with her husband Siddharth. The latter finds the time ripe to reimagine their love story with all the heroics, where he positions himself as the alpha-male and makes his partner, the submissive one (unlike their real life). Every episode becomes an ‘expectation’ and ‘reality’ version of their lives – from how they met, fell in love, to how they spent the first night of their marriage to the revelation of who’s the boss in the relationship.
Surprisingly, the laughs for such a witty premise turn out to be very limited. The writing is unbelievably dull, lazy and basic – the proposal sequence, the registered marriage and the marriage night are one-liner ideas that don’t warrant individual episodes at all. If not for the enthusiasm and terrific histrionics of Viva Harsha that invite some comic flavour into the proceedings, Asalem Jarigandante wouldn’t even have been half as watchable. He’s relished the sarcastic one-liners, the self-demeaning style of humour ever since his arrival into the digital space – it’s a tool kit that works to his advantage every time the material doesn’t live up to expectations.
The show wouldn’t have been as disappointing if it were any other comic snippet that randomly released on Youtube – it just doesn’t try hard enough. The exaggeration of its cast isn’t the issue, the absence of any wit in the dialogue is. Harsha’s co-star Yashna Chowdary proves to be a reasonably efficient performer though she is no match to the former’s timing. It may be for a reason that her character isn’t as colourful as her co-star too. The girl who plays her sister sparkles in a short-lived appearance.
Gemini Suresh is in his element in a brief role while it’s hard to understand what is RJ Hemanth doing in the show. The director Chandoo Allada can only do so much to salvage a poorly written show that needed more fuel in its tank. It’s rather surprising that a top producer like Sharrath Marrar has associated with it. Parts of Asalem Jarigandante are funny, but this comic ride is rather bumpy to impress.