What is the story about?
In 2016, beleaguered police officer Amrita Singh, struggling under the weight of her job, wants to quit the force and shift with her father Gurusewak to Canada in search of a better life. But when fate lands her the opportunity to head a Special Task Force for investigating the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 in Bokaro, she discovers Gurusewak was actually Rishi Ranjan, one of the most dreaded rioters. Will Amrita be able to confront the truth?
Historical fiction, or fiction centred around an important historical event, is an even more difficult genre to crack than actual historical adaptations. Sony LIV's Maharani had succeeded in showing the journey of a fictional political family rooted in the murky politics of 1990s Bihar. Unlike Maharani, Grahan had a lot more going for it. It had a terrific source in Satya Vyas' much-acclaimed Hindi novel Chaurasi, and even gets its production design right. Yet, even with an arsenal of six writers and a solid cast, creator Shailendra Kumar Jha and director Ranjan Chandel don't seem to trust the audience. Instead of letting the horrors depicted in Vyas' novel stand on their own as storytelling devices, they pile the entire narrative, especially the crucial second half, with so much melodrama, that your initial interest in watching the series starts flagging by the time you are halfway through. Even though the show is timely and manages to switch seamlessly between the events in Bokaro in 1984 and Ranchi in 2016, the narrative falters in tone on account of over-explaining and excessive melodrama. As a result, even with decent performances and impressive set design, the show becomes an average watch.
If Grahan shines, it is only because of its talented cast. In the 2016 timeline, Pawan Malhotra portrays decades of hurt and guilt in his impressive turn as Gurusewak or Rishi Ranjan, while Zoya Hussain is solid as his daughter Amrita. Md. Sahidur Rahaman is decent as Amrita's deputy in the SIT, Vikas Mandal, who has his own tragic back-story. But the 1984 timeline comes alive in the tender love story between Rishi and Mannu, and both Anshuman Pushkar and Wamiqa Gabbi effortlessly convey that innocence in the face of certain danger. The rest of the cast in alright.
Music & Other Departments
Kamaljeet Negi's camerawork is impressive, but Shan Mohammed's editing is a major stumbling block. In certain sequences, it feels as if the editor fell asleep, letting them play out much longer than expected. Wasiq Khan's production design is terrific and gives the show its authenticity. Daniel B. George's background score is alright, but could've been more sparse. Amit Trivedi produces a couple of tracks that bring Rishi and Mannu's love story alive, with Chori Chori sounding fresh.
The pilot episode is where the series comes alive. The set design is immaculate too.
Excessive use of melodrama and stretching the storyline unnecessarily in the second half are the major downers.
Did I enjoy it?
I enjoyed parts of it, but the whole show struggles to keep itself intact.
Do I recommend it?
You can give this a one-time watch. But it's nothing extraordinary.