What is the story about?
When Rani Mai, the leader of the dreaded Angre gang of Mumbai, is attacked and left in a coma, her nephews, Madhukar and Arjun a.k.a. Major, and son Abhay, are hellbent on revenge. But who is behind the attack? And more importantly, what will the truth cost them?
Yet another series on the Mumbai underworld bursts forth on OTT, and instead of doing something novel with it, it recycles much of the same stuff you have seen before. Cartel, written by Sambit Mishra and Monish K. Talpade, is 14 episodes long, but for much of the runtime, you see various storytelling tropes used in multiple underworld films before--from Ram Gopal Varma's Sarkar series to Apoorva Lakhia's Shootout at Lokhandwala and Haseena Parkar. The screenplay is very jaded and looks somehow put together. However, one benefit of having fourteen episodes is that most of the characters get a definite arc to play around with, and that shows in their assured performances. In fact, the sprawling ensemble cast is the only bright spot in what is ultimately a bloated crime sage.
Supriya Pathak is suitably dignified and menacing as Rani Mai, though you have to wait until the second half of the series to truly see her in action. Tanuj Virwani is solid as Major, bringing a rare mix of cunning and vulnerability to his character. Jitendra Joshi is a livewire as the hot-headed Madhukar, who lets the wisecracks fly even when he is angry. Rithvik Dhanjani's Abhay seems caricaturish initially, but grows on you as the show wears on. Girija Oak is lovely to watch as Rama, Madhukar's wife, while Tannishtha Chatterjee is okay as the fesity prostitute Romilla. Monica Dogra is all right as the femme-fatale Maya, while Divya Agarwal shines as a shape-shiting assassin. The rest of the cast are okay.
Music & Other Departments
Bharatt-Saurabh's background score is bombastic, while the cinematography and editing are all right.
The screenplay is very long and borrows several tropes from older films on the Mumbai underworld, with a liberal dose of sex and abuses.
Did I enjoy it?
Do I recommend it?
Only watch this if you're a big fanf of shows and movies pertaining to the underworld.