The Vikram Bhatt-written web-series Faceless is all about 'what it could have been'. What if there was a better director? What if better-known actors were chosen for the lead roles? What if the makers had not gone for a TV-soap like background score? What if the series was mounted on a better scale? If Faceless was any other badly written and executed web series, the disappointment may not have been this huge. Faceless has nail-biting material that could have made for a solid whodunit-thriller. But the makers of the show keep finding different ways to nullify its potential. Ultimately the joke is on the viewer for expecting a goldmine out of this episode after episode, only to find their hopes coming down crashing.
The premise of Faceless is obvious stuff you'd expect from a murder mystery. The Thakraal household is suddenly shaken by the mysterious murder of its matriarch Seema Thakraal. Karan Arora, known for his righteousness as an investigative cop, is on the job to nab the murderer. Key clues emerge and the man has enough evidence to claim that the murderer is someone within the Thakraal household. Before the investigation finally gains ground, the murderer sets out on a killing-spree and there's chaos among the cops and the Thakraals. Karan is a man on a mission and the series is a showcase of his persistent attempts to outsmart the murderer. How far will he go? There are two ways to look at Faceless. Had it been released as another television soap on the small screen spanning ten episodes, one wouldn't have refrained from calling it a promising attempt. But ultimately, Faceless is a series, made for a digital audience, and that should have been a good reason for the makers to push the bar and utilise their creative freedom. The execution is the major issue here. Did the Faceless team mistake an OTT platform for OTT treatment? The proceedings pan out so amateurishly, even as Vikram Bhatt's writing keeps you on your toes. If something works in Faceless, it's the mystery element. The clues leading to the murderer are unravelled one after the other with much care. Though the build-up towards the finale scores better than the finale itself, there's enough depth in the writing to help you stay awake. The character-arcs are well-rounded too. It's, unfortunately, another case of a storyteller not knowing how to translate a good script into an engaging series. The makers should have realised that, for a web series to be taken seriously, you either have a good star cast to grab eyeballs or come up with edgy, innovative stuff with a nondescript cast to make headlines. Faceless does neither. But for Sid Makkar and Pravina Deshpande (whom we see very little of), the casting is a complete put off with actors like Yash Pandit, Punit Sharma, Shubhi Ahuja, and Saurabh Dubey bringing their melodramatic television-acting onto the digital medium. Jeetendra Sharma's booming background score backed by a zillion close-up shots have you wondering what the director Satish Shukla is up to. Though Sid Makkar comes up with a restrained performance and is the sole saviour of the series in terms of performances, his role needed someone with an aura to their personality. Sid appears a tad too stiff and serious to give the part some assurance. His on-screen love-interest is Purvi Mundada, who surely could have got a better role than an ever-sobbing figure who's in real need of a few tissues. The editing is relatively neat but the series needed someone who visualised the sequences better than its cinematographer Mukesh Kumar Tiwari. Simply put, Faceless is a solid opportunity thrown into the bin. Rating: 2/5