While Amit Sial’s first season of Kathmandu Connection was all about the cat and mouse chase between a vitiated cop and an impervious, slick gangster in the backdrop of the 1993 bomb blasts with oodles of mystery and suspense, the second season only takes it a notch higher with more characters, a more tangled story, a canvas daubed in ill-boding themes and an enhanced sense of bewilderment pertaining to the quasi narratives that have been told before already a countless times.
Sachin Pathak and Siddharth Mishra’s six-episode long crime-thriller series couldn’t quite match up to the brilliance of the first season but it still keeps you interested with it’s breakneck pace, some splashy developments and the show’s proclivity towards retention of older quirks and amalgamating then with some fresh ones.
The second season picks up five years after the events of the preceding season. Shivani Bhatnagar (played by Aksha Pardasany) is now stationed somewhere in London working as a Page 3 journalist, a beat quite unlike her previous stint as an investigative journalist in an attempt to evade her past. Shravan Mishra (played by Anurag Arora) has been alleviated to the rank of a senior police officer and is actively engaged in exterminating miscreants but is visibly discontented with his condescending DCP. Sunny (played by Anshumaan Pushkar) remains incarcerated and is still awaiting to clear his name from the Bombay Blasts but is targeted by his arch-nemisis Wajid (played by Prashant Narayanan).
Samarth Kaushik (played by Amit Sial) has been dishonourably discharged from his duties and is leading a life in the shadows. His daughter hates him now and he is adamant to change things around for himself. With all these characters in place, the story unfurls with the IC-814 hijacking and a tip-off to Shivani Bhatnagar about a devious conspiracy being hatched in the heart of the valley of Kathmandu. Compelled by the circumstances, Shivani packs her bags and reunites with Sunny and then makes her way to Kathmandu where a deleterious fate awaits her.
For the second season, Sachin Pathak expands his fresco to accommodate the non-blurring lines between fiction and reality. He consciously breaks himself free from the tonality that he had employed in the first story but instead realigns himself to attempt something more challenging and ambitious. For instance, while there was an air of uncertainty about Wajid’s resemblance to the real-life underworld Don Dawood Ibrahim, the second season puts those assumptions to rest when we are introduced to Wajid who shares the same mannerisms and menacing demeanour of Dawood, a revelation apt enough to stir your curiosity. Similarly, there are several such plot devices which coalesced the fictional universe with the real historical one-an otherwise erstwhile USP of Kathmandu Connection from it’s preceding season but amplified.
The first three episodes are excruciatingly slow/inconsistent and come across as an overload to your sensory organs. The overwhelming nature can also be attributed to the fact that this season deals with not one but multiple sub-plots, all taking place simultaneously under one monumental theme. But once the story sinks its feet and catches speed, it craftly utilizes the unpredictability factor and in a way that it will catch you off-guard. Some might find ‘that’ twist to be unsavoury but truth be told, it deviates from the usual tropes of storytelling in OTT series of similar nature. There is also a lingering sense of deja-vu especially if you have watched Manoj Bajpai’s The Family Man or Jaideep Ahlawat’s Pataal Lok. At the end of the day, Kathmandu Connection still retains uniqueness with its dynamic character arcs, a balanced-ratio of partly good and partly over-the-top storyline and a rapturing build-up to the climax.
As for the irregularities, there are certain bits in the story which are archetypal despite being presented with shocking twists and turns. It chips away the organic nature of the story and lends a very commonplace treatment to the plot points. Sneha, Khanwalkar’s ravenous background score and music still remains a highlight with distinct vaporwave aesthetics, a metal rendition of Siyaahi and an intense chthonic layering of the surreal soundscape which surprisingly comes to life in tandem with the portentous nature of the story.
On the acting front, Amit Sial, Aksha Pardasany, Anshumaan Pushkar and Anurag Arora have more or less maintained their character quirks from the first season and hence they’ve played their part well. But the two main additions in the form of Prashant Narayanan and Ashok Pathak cannot be ignored. While we’ve seen Prashant Narayanan essay diabolic characters before, it is Ashok Pathak who breaks away from the typecast of Binod in Panchayat and presents an unexpected side of himself without fumbling even once.
So Kathmandu Connection 2 might not be as imaginative as it’s first season but it takes you to a more sinister zone. It boasts of a gripping story which is set in place with choppy but mostly consistent style of story-telling. It’s a decent watch owing to the enthralling performances by the actors, eargasmic background score, unpredictable twists and bends and how it assimilates real-life events into a fictional setup. There is also a dash of sporadic action sequences and the cliffhanger after the climax will satiate you.
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