If you are looking to binge-watch an Indian drama, then you can opt for The Night Manager. The web series is available on Hotstar for users with a subscription. The show’s first season, consisting of four episodes, was released on February 17. The Night Manager is an Indian remake of the Golden Globe-winning British drama of the same name, which is yet again an adaptation of a novel of the same name by Carre.
The Indian version is the remake of the English version of the drama starring actors like Jonathan Pine, Richard Onslow, Jed Marshall, etc. The Indian version also has an ensemble of stellar actors like Aditya Roy Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Shobhita Dhulipala, and Tillotama Shome.
As someone who has not watched the original show, I dived into it completely blind; hence, it won’t have many comparisons to the original version. Before you go forward, please be aware that there will be spoilers; but don’t worry, we won’t spoil the entire show because it was just released recently.
Plot Summary of The Night Manager: Episodes 1 to 4
The show opens with the scene of Shaan Sengupta, played by Aditya Roy Kapoor, being transported in a police van, along with other criminals, with his hands tied and his escape from the police officers. Then we have a time jump, not into the future but into the past, to clearly understand what exactly leads to the scene in the beginning.
The first part is in Bangladesh during the unrest caused by the migration of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to Bangladesh. Shaan, an ex-Navy lieutenant, works as a manager at The White Flower Resort. He is a diligent employee who is good at handling guests.
But, soon, he comes face to face with a crisis. At the Hotel, staying in the luxury suite, is the third wife of Freddie Rahman, Safina. Safina, only 14 years old, asks him to help her flee to India. This puts him in a dilemma because Freddie Rahman is very influential and dangerous. But he sympathizes with the child bride who has to endure living with this eccentric person.
Initially, he refuses to help her due to fear of repercussions. But Safina steals his phone and films a video to show to his friend who works at the Indian Embassy. The video is of illegal arms dealing between Freddie Rahman and another influential man, Shailendra Rungta.
Finally, understanding Safina’s situation and the importance of the video, Shaan contacts his friend, who sent the video to an officer of RAW of the Bangladesh desk, Lipika Saikia. Lipika tries to convince the head to move against Shailendra (also known as Shelly), but things don’t go as planned, as Shelly is more influential than we thought.
Shaan accuses Lipika of leaking the news, but she promises to help them and that the leak did not happen from her or her colleagues. She is also shocked to find that the informant is a fourteen-year-old child. But things get further out of hand, as Lipika’s phone gets tapped, leading to Safina’s murder.
Her murder got covered up as a suicide, and Shaan disappeared. Then we have another time jump, where Shaan is working as Night Manager at another hotel, where we see Shailendra Rungta’s arrival as a guest.
This incident triggers Shaan, and he collects materials related to Sailendra Gupta, like the sim card details they purchased. He sends all of these to Lipika, who got demoted. Lipika then acts on it by hiring Shaan as her spy. The rest of the story is about how Shaan will help bring Shelly and his accomplices down.
The Night Manager Plot Review
The plot did not seem that unique, at least in the first season, even for someone like me who did not watch the original British version. Some aspect of it was very predictable, for example, Safina’s death and the direct involvement of Shaan and his partnership with Lipika in revealing the true face of Shailendra Rungta to the Law.
But that is not to say there were no unexpected parts in the show. For example, the starting scene of Shaan escaping from the police turned out to be very different than expected, or at least from what I expected. There are very cliche plotlines in the thriller. But, to not completely disregard the thriller factor in the mini-series, some moments were nerve-wracking, especially after Shaan becomes a spy for Lipika.
It is mainly due to the fact that the actions of Shaan look careless, especially since the man he is after is dangerous. Coming to the jokes, I don’t think I laughed at any part while watching the show. It’s either that the jokes were missing the mark, or the type of humor used was not my type.
See Also: Best Indian Web Series of 2020 That You Should Watch
Corruption at the Highest Level
The portrayal of RAW was also very different from the usual representation of the organization. RAW, the Research and Analysis Wing, is the foreign intelligence agency of India. It is a highly secretive and protected organization. Not all of us know how exactly RAW works, but we know it is an important organization.
The agent is shown going inside an office building labeled Public Works Department and then shown going through the pantry, which is the RAW office South Asian Division. The office environment looks similar to that of an ordinary government office. It makes sense that an office of RAW remains anonymous and works under disguise due to the nature of the organization, especially since it is just a branch.
But what came off as unbelievable was the corruption in the RAW. Yes, we have seen the same in many American movies where the FBI is corrupt, maybe it was just me, but I was expecting the RAW to be corrupt-free.
So when Lipika goes to her superior with information about the illegal arms dealing by Shelly, she is rebuked by saying he is “well respected and well connected.” It is also RAW that leaks the information about the video to Shelly, which causes Safina’s death. It all makes us question everything we know about RAW and its genuineness.
The Cast and Characters
The acting by the cast is good, and almost every actor does justice to the character, but none of their actions can be considered phenomenal. All the characters seem to caricature with no personal characteristics. This can be noticed in both the male and female characters.
Shaan Sengupta is the protagonist of the show. The entire series is focused on him. The character is played by Aditya Roy Kapoor, known for his roles in Aashiqui 2 and Yeh Jawani hai Deewani. He plays the character of Shaan quite well. He has a very dark past, like the heroes in many thriller movies. He gets nightmares from his ex-navy life.
Aditya Roy Kapoor was able to express the emotions of the well, like the stare of distress and anger he has on when he looks directly at Shelly. At times the expression on Shaan’s face makes us wonder how he did not get caught by Shelly, as the hate is visible on his face. It makes one wonder if those expressions are intentional or not.
Shailendra Rungta, the dangerous villain of the series, does not emit a very intimidating Aura, his introduction scene was great, but the villain’s dark aura got overpowered by the nervousness and anger felt by the hero. But, yes, there are moments where we see his villainess burst out, but otherwise, we keep on forgetting that he is a dangerous criminal who orders to kill a fourteen-year-old child.
But I think this might have been intentional because the character Shailendra is known to the outside world as a white-collar businessman and philanthropist. So it makes sense that we forget that he is evil at times.
Lipika Saikia Rao, the uncorrupt police officer that goes behind the cunning criminal despite the fact her superiors are against it. To add to the courage she has, we also see that she is pregnant in the last three episodes. This is a very typical caricature, but the actress makes sure that we are not bored by the character. The character is portrayed well without exaggeration.
For a RAW officer, she seems too impulsive. Getting a random person to work as a spy without knowing anything about his character is not a good idea, and it seems to backfire, according to the trailer for the next season.
Kaveri Dixit is the wife of Shailendra Gupta and the subject of objectification in the show. There are so many instances of her being used to entice or as means of giving sensuality to the show. Now one may argue that Aditya Roy Kapoor also has scenes where he is eye candy, but that is a part of his plan. Also, his attractiveness is only second to his character and his role in the series.
She is also the sad wife with her secrets, yet another caricature. But I hope there is some change or revelation related to her character in the next season. The actress did a good job of portraying the character. She could give a sort of mystery to her character without much effort.
Brijpal (BJ), the only gay character, a rare occurrence in Indian series and movies, is a pervert. The constant portrayal of gay characters as flamboyant and perverted sets a stereotype that is not good, especially since the Indian public has just started getting exposed to LGBTQIA on such levels.
The Cliché Plotline
As mentioned earlier, the series makes use of many cliche plotlines. But using cliches doesn’t necessarily mean bad if it helps develop the storyline. For example, children being the weakness of the criminal is not new to us. Here also, we see a similar pattern. The child gets close to Shaan. But it is senseless that a man with so many enemies just entrusts his child with a random guy without even thinking much about it.
The unhappy wives of the big rich guys is a boring plotline, and we see it repeated here again. The wives are sad because of their own reason, and the new guy helps them. And the new guy also develops a romantic relationship with one of the ladies. Even though this is what the first season hints towards, I genuinely hope for a huge twist in the second season just for the sake of it.
In the seduction plot, seducing the unhappy wife is mandatory when you are entering the enemy zone. She not only helps you gain information but also provides a cover when you get caught. It is probably better to get caught as the lover than the spy. But is this plotline really necessary? Can’t the two people just form an alliance or be just friends? I sometimes guess this storyline is necessary for the plot to move.
The cheating plotline in the other couple was necessary, I guess, because there needs to be a flaw in the family for someone to break it up. It is quite astounding how she got the courage to call out her husband’s years of cheating after a simple conversation with our main lead.
The first season did not have much action and was all about laying the mental groundwork. The first season was the predator surveying its prey and preparing itself so that it could catch the prey and kill it at once. The second season will be more action, according to the trailer.
In short, the series is a watchable remake without much to offer as new or innovative in the plot line. But there are nerve-wracking moments in the drama that does justice to the thriller genre, so I will give this mini-web series a 3.5 out of 5. If you want, you can catch the first season of The Night Manager on Hotstar.
Our Rating: 3.5/5.
Also Read: Hello Tomorrow! Review: A Visually Stunning Series