Digital Review: ‘Kathmandu Connection’ (SonyLIV)

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‘Kathmandu Connection’ is a fictional story based around the Bombay blasts of 1993. This is director Sachin Pathak’s third crime thriller web series. The main cast, who we had previously seen in ‘Jamtara’ (2020), aren’t strangers to the genre either. A promising team, however, doesn’t always deliver a promising show.

1993, New Delhi: the kidnapping of a prominent hotelier, the murder of a CBI officer in charge of investigating the Bombay blasts, and a journalist’s stalker all point to one direction – a casino in Kathmandu. Under covert instructions by the CBI, DCP Samarth Kaushik (Amit Sial) goes on an unofficial mission to investigate. DCP Kaushik is a self-centered cop with a messy personal life and no regard for the people around him. There is not one thing that makes him likeable, and no amount of swagger compensates for it. Our villain Sunny Sharma (Anshumaan Pushkar), though, is a lot more compelling. He is in charge of the Kathmandu casino, but under his tough exterior is an obsessive lover and a wronged human. Journalist Shivani Bhatnagar (Aksha Pardasany) is stuck between the games of these two men.

The show starts off tediously. We move from plot point to plot point but it’s flimsy and confusing to follow, mainly because the story is missing a major aspect. We have no idea what anyone’s motivations are. None of the characters feel like real people, because we don’t know what drives them. They are simply vessels for the plotline and catchy one-liners. Relationships are underdeveloped, there is no chemistry between any of the three members of this convoluted love triangle. The dialogue is not a conversation, just people saying dramatic dialogue to each other. We see, we hear, but we do not feel.

Individually, the actors fare much better. They constantly allude to the underlying shadiness that the audience is unaware of, even in moments when the scene doesn’t explicitly require it. The consistency in their performances often keeps you engaged when the story doesn’t. Each character has their moments of clarity and retribution, but Sunny and Shivani’s are a lot more satisfying than Samarth’s. Sial is fantastic, but the script fails him.

Once the show stops trying to be “cool” it improves drastically. Dramatic plot twists in the final two episodes finally reveal the motivations that justify the characters’ behaviour, but it comes in too late. So much time is spent setting up the story, but the actual action – trapping Sunny, for example – is breezed through in montages. And right when the story finally picks up steam, we are left with a cliffhanger. ‘Kathmandu Connection’, while not terrible, is ultimately just a collection of generic cop show tropes that lacks personality.

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