The sheer number of films and shows that have now been based on the dark underbelly of Mumbai’s ‘80s and ‘90s crimewave, whether it be from the perspective of a mafia don, a lowly henchman, a mole in the system, a hooker who knows everything, or even an upstanding cop, is aplenty. It is itself a daunting task then, to make something within that genre that comes across not just fresh but also telling us something new.
What is the story about?
In Apoorva Lakhia’s pat-on-the-back-for-that-title show ‘Mum Bhai,’ we have a little bit of all these characters. The plot itself is focused on an ATS encounter specialist, Bhaskar Shetty (Angad Bedi) who escapes dire circumstances and makes his way to Mumbai as a teenager. Having seen blood and violence up close, the naive Bhaskar trains to become a cop and from being the shy and vulnerable trainee, goes on to become the unlikely antihero of this tale whose vices include a lot of money and a lot of sex. The show moves back and forth between multiple timelines, up to the mid-2000s. Bhaskar learns to deal with dangerous criminals from his mentor Rama Shetty (Sikandar Kher). He gets into a business-like alliance with a smart-talking accountant Vaishnavi (Sandeepa Dhar) who helps him ‘launder’ some of his illicit earnings. He constantly gets into gripes with fellow officer Karekar (Sameer Dharmadhikari). And of course, there’s a reporter covering it all, Nitin (Vishwas Kini). Bhaskar rises to become the foremost encounter specialist in the squad, but his downfall is pre-empted early on in the show and the season goes on to establish who is responsible for putting him behind bars.
Most of the actors in Mum Bhai do a decent job. No one except Sandeepa Dhar stands out specifically. But Dhar definitely holds her own in a series dominated by the male gaze.
Music & Other Departments
The production value of Mum Bhai is pretty average, and at many places, the sheer shoddiness in cinematography and sound is an obvious clue for budgetary constraints. The show has a title song which was catchy when released as its main anthem, but since it has been used for every major sequence in the show (which means that it is played every 10 minutes), this song will now haunt my dreams. The sound design, dialogues and score are dated. There is a clear inconsistency in the way the show has been shot, directed and produced, but the show has been edited well.
Still, the plot doesn’t have anything new to say. There are several moments that require a darker, more brooding intensity which we have seen in the works of RGV, but no such moments exist in ‘Mum Bhai.’ In fact, there are several other crime thrillers streaming at the moment which are lightyears more original and inventive. ‘Mum Bhai’ seems one-tone and dull.
Did I enjoy it?
Not really. I feel like I could have done something more productive with my time. But I couldn’t look at other things either because something or the other was always happening.
Do I recommend it?
Not immediately, but on an afternoon with no plans… if you crave a crime thriller… you can give it a shot. Keep hopes minimum.