Digital Review: ‘Crackdown’ (Voot)


The online streaming platform has quickly become host to some of the most intriguing and thought-provoking projects to come out of the Indian film and TV industry. No stranger to action packed drama’s, Apoorva Lakhia has joined his fellow film-makers and hopped on the web series bandwagon with his recent release ‘Crackdown’ (2020). With a promising trailer, there seemed to be a lot riding on how well this one will do compared to many others of this genre, and if Lakhia’s past projects are anything to go by, it was one many had anticipated.

After RAW agent Riyaaz Pathan (Saqib Saleem) convinces small town girl Divya (Shriya Pilgoankar) to play the part of her look-a-like, Mariam – a female terrorist who committed suicide found by Pathan and his team whilst on one of their missions- to gain further information about the terrorist group, little did she know she would be involved in something that was far bigger than any of them could have imagined. Despite promising to protect her, Pathan seems to have his own troubles with another agent Zorawar (Iqbal Khan) trying to fish out any detail of Pathan and his team going wrong, and his closest allies not being who they seem. With the many involved on the other side, is more to who is behind all the attacks than Divya, Pathan or even Zorawar could ever believe.

‘Crackdown’ is a perfect example of Lakhia’s expertise in thriller, crime and suspense. Knowing how to tell a story that will continuously have his audience on the edge of their seats, the director has done a brilliant job. Though the series starts off a little slow, it’s evident the film-maker had a lot of fun and really pushed the boundaries on how best he could use each character as the series goes on. Though there are times where it is difficult to follow with many twists and turns, it’s enough to keep his viewers on their toes. With this being the first series however, it’s fair to say Lakhia has left much to dive into for more to come.

Casting for a series like this can be a difficult one. With so many characters, the director has to ensure they are all memorable, and have the capacity to hold the attention of the viewers in an instant. For the most part, the main actors have done very well, Saleem as the protagonist is a good choice. It’s easy to see he has really worked hard in trying to get into the depth of his character. There are times where one does expect more from him, especially when finding out the things that his character has gone through. However, Saleem is a success in understanding what it takes to play such a character. Pilgoankar is an absolute joy to watch on screen. She shows her best in this series where the audience is able to understand her characters’ development from being vulnerable in an unknown world to confident and strong headed to what her role is. Throughout the series she has her viewers encapsulated, where there are times where they second guess her motives, where she ensures not to give anything away. Khan as Zorawar is also a perfect fit. Playing a hot-headed, self involved agent that normally comes with an ensemble cast for a project like this, he is the character audiences members don’t really know if he is in fact a good guy. One thing that does stick out that seems slightly over the top and at time unnecessary is the amount of foul language given to Khan in his dialogue. Though he expresses it well, at times it does seem inappropriate. Despite this, Khan is an absolute natural, where he is the one viewers constantly want to figure out. Rajesh Tailang’s on screen presence, is also one that stands out, where his characters is the one that shows a lot more shades than the others. Unlike the rest, Tailang brings out the professional side and the personal side of his character, making not only himself, but those around him more relatable to the audience. Ankur Bhatia is another member of the cast that never fails to impress. Playing a negative role, his effortless performance is gripping and thrilling from his first scene. The likes of Waluscha De Sousa and Saba Saudagar are all brilliant additions to the cast, where, despite their limited screen-time, add their own surprises and really engulf themselves into the roles they play.

‘Crackdown’ is a very well made series, which will have everyone glued to the screen. However, this is one which requires a lot more concentration, so for someone looking for an easy to follow, light-hearted action series, may want to give this one a miss. It’s gripping, interesting and will always have the viewer’s minds ticking as to how everything links together. With each episode only being half an hour, the complicated story-line and fast paced dialogue does, at times work against the story, making it difficult to follow in places. However, with some loose ends her and there, it only adds to the anticipation of a second series. Overall, Lakhia has made a brilliant start in his online project journey, where it will be amongst the top crime-thriller watches of this year.

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