Thematic anthologies seem to be the flavour of the season in the digital medium. After the buzz surrounding several anthology shows and films like Lust Stories, Ghost Stories, Finger Tip, Pawan and Pooja in the recent past, MX Player dabbles with the five episode-show Kashmakash. In a crisp series addressing several modern-day concerns under two hours, the episodes follow a more-or-less similar pattern of establishing a protagonist’s precarious situation and how they are a victim of their own decisions.
Although discussing addiction in various forms and backdrops, the storytelling lacks the urgency and depth to resonate with a viewer. The ideas are certainly impressive, though the unidimensional perspective is more cinematic than realistic. There are stories about a kleptomaniac’s struggle for acceptance in the society, a social-media-savvy actor whose obsession for posting images online gets the better of him, an ignored homemaker who has little idea about the creepy side to virtual friendships and a drug addict girl drowned by her troubled upbringing.
The story about the kleptomaniac (where a person is unable to resist the urge to steal) Jiya feels strange, especially for the fact that her parents are unaware about their daughter’s condition for so many years. Though a viewer can certainly buy that the condition can be a cause of emotional concern for the person, it’s uncommon for someone to not discuss it with their parents, given they would have gone through many similar experiences owing to the condition during childhood too. The conflict between the shopkeeper and the kleptomaniac is chilling though the narrative doesn’t dwell upon the condition with maturity.
Another episode that makes an impression revolves around a television actor’s obsession to share intimate details about his personal life among his followers. In a digital era where it doesn’t take much time for followers to turn stalkers, the episode imagines a worst-case scenario with a tale of a television actor-couple that’s on a holiday. The other episodes don’t appear to care for the issues or its characters strongly – be it the tale of the cop’s wife or the one about a Whatsapp admin with an honour-killing angle to it. The story of the drug addict is worse – neither the segment about her addiction nor her dysfunctional family create an impact.
The show feels underwrought and the execution is too plain, predictable to be a chilling take on a pertinent problem. Perhaps, the directors could have found a way to blend the five stories in a single narrative and tie them up innovatively? The filmmakers should have at least taken more time to establish their protagonists. The one-note identity of the characters is baffling – especially in the story about the man who makes fake Whatsapp forwards go viral. He doesn’t seem to have any identity beyond that. And why forcibly squeeze honour killing, class divide into the story?
There’s not much difference in the styles of directors Shiva Verma, Saptraj Chakraborthy, Anil V Kumar, Saket N Yadav for the episodes to have any distinct flavour. The long list of lead actors – including Sharad Malhotra, Anjum Fakih, Vahbiz Dorabjee, Eijaz Khan, Abhishek Kapur, Abigail Pande – however, play their parts with conviction, unaffected by their limited screen time. If you’re looking for a show with solid storytelling, Kashmakash may not be your bet. However, if killing some time is your only priority, the brief duration definitely helps.