Grahan (on Disney Hotstar) is the story of human emotions – love, hate, anger, fear, contempt. Its about betrayal and sacrifice. It’s about politics and xenophobia. Its about unconditional love.
It’s the love story of Rishi Ranjan and Manu. It’s Amrita’s story – the IPS officer who knows that her father could have been involved in the rioting and killing of Sikhs during the riots of 1984. It’s the story of the survivors of the 1984 riots. It’s about guilt, remorse and redemption. It’s the story about how public discourse is swayed by the politicians for their benefit and for votes – then between Hindus and Sikhs and now between Hindus and Muslims.
The story is set in Bokaro in 1984 where Rishi Ranjan, a Hindu, is living as a tenant with Mr. Chabbra, a Sikh. Rishi is young, handsome, educated, handyman and adorable in his manners. Manu is Mr. Chabbra’s daughter and they fall in love. Rishi has a chance to elope with Manu but at the last moment he calls off the plan and decides to ask her hand in marriage from Mr. Chabbra. But Mr. Chabbra refuses as he does not find Rishi good enough for his daughter. But at the same time the city of Bokaro, like many parts of the country is simmering with hatred for Sikhs. A few local leaders and politician are fanning the sparks of hatred and preparing the youth to ‘clean’ the city of Sikhs. On the fateful day of 31 October prime miniter Indira Gandhi is assassinated and all hell breaks loose. Rishi is appointed the leader of the mob of rioters. Now he has the chance of avenge the insult meted out by Mr. Chabbra. But also his love for Manu is overwhelming. What will he do?
Its 2016 and Amrita Singh is an IPS in Ranchi. She is perturbed by the constant interference of the politicians in her work and the inability of her seniors to show a spine or take a stand. She is then appointed to head a SIT (Special Investigating Team) to investigate the riots of 1984 in the state. Throughout her investigations and interviewing the survivors in Bokaro, they speak of Rishi Ranjan leading a gang of rioters – looting and killing on the streets of Bokaro. And everytime they seem coming close to unravelling the events of the night of the riots the SIT faces a major hurdle. As she delves deeper in to the case, she is faced with a life shattering possibility that her father could be Rishi Ranjan. She tries to confront her father, but he refuses to say anything about the events of 31 October and 1 November in 1984. She is now faced with the predicament of choosing between her father, who she loves so dearly and cannot imagine him doing something like this and her duty, where she has set high ideals and standards for herself and others.
The series has a very strong story and script. Its shot very humanely. The editing is crisp and the screenplay lucid. The transition from 1984 to 2016 is seamless and perfectly timed. The story moves parallel in flashback and in the present.
The love story between Rishi and Manu is endearing. It has the old world charm and filled with melody. The glances, the touches, the smiles, the blushes wants you to fall in love. And so are the riot scenes. They will leave you shaking and shocked. The angst and disgust of the SIT, interviewing the survivors is palpable.
The role of the politicians has not changed much from 1984 to now, to make people fight in the name of religion, race, colour, caste, class and reap benefits.
The stories of the survivors – rioters and victims are so humanely shot. One rioter says – if we would not be with them we would be against them, what choice did we have. Another one confesses that rioting and killing that night, he felt equal to all the people around, otherwise he was always looked down upon, in his lowly life.
Amrita Singh played by Zoya Hussain is in a different league. Her eyes, her expressions are so emotive. I guess by far the best performance this season. She lights up the screen and looks completely the part. Kudos.
Rishi Ranjan played by Anshuman Pushkar is infallible. He commands attention from the first scene. He gives a very restrained performance, though he had the opportunity and the part to go overboard but he shows so much maturity. I think he will be around and a lot of good work coming his way.
Pawan Malhotra is wonderful too. Wamica Gabbi as Manjeet (Manu) is very well done too.
Special mention for Shaidur Rehman who plays the role of DSP Vikas Mandal, a Dalit, assisting Amrita Singh in the SIT. What a beautiful performance. His eyes speak of the atrocities that he and his clan have to endure.
Another hero in the series is the music. Amit Trivedi has done magic with soulful words of Varun Grover. And the background score will enthrall you and in places haunt you.
The production it top class and so is art direction.
And well done Ranjan Chandel, the director. What a super job.