The horrific account of serial murders, cannibalism, sexual abuse and necrophilia in Nithari, a small village in the suburbs of Noida, had left everyone stunned in 2006. It was after the murder of a dozen children over the course of two years that Surinder Koli and his employer Moninder Singh Pandher were arrested for the heinous crime and were later sentenced to death. In the investigation, it was revealed that Koli used to lure kids to his house, kill them and have sex with them. He then disembowelled them, ate parts of their bodies and dumped the corpses in an open sewage nearby.
This spine-chilling account ‘inspires’ the first episode of ZEE5 original Abhay starring Kunal Kemmu. But, is the narration of this horrific crime eerie and unsettling in the Ken Ghosh-Kookie Gulati directorial? No. Rather, it’s a simple narration of cold-blooded murders.
Abhay begins with the narration of the crime by a police official. In two years, 16 kids have gone missing from the small village of Chinthari and since the police could not close the case, it has been handed over to the Special Task Force headed by Kemmu. He means business from the very second of his appearance. But, before delving into an investigation sequence, Abhay shows a sordid tale of an old man and his domestic help kidnapping, killing, sexually abusing and eating the dead bodies of kids.
Instead of following the age-old straightforward whodunnit approach where you sympathise with the hapless victim and come across the villain in the end, the police procedural tells you who the culprit is in the first five minutes of the 46-minute long episode. But just when you start to loathe the two men for brutally murdering innocent children and want them to be punished, you are distracted by the subplot of the episode.
Abhay, who was until this point a tough special task force officer, suddenly turns into a psychopath who is obsessed about the security of his son. He is always haunted by the thought of someone murdering his son. This is where the show becomes somewhat off-putting for me because when I expected the narrative to take off with the question, “How will Abhay nab the culprits?”, the curiosity gets killed.
After taking its time, the show returns to the investigation. And finally scared people tell white lies, half-truths unveil, Abhay’s intelligent tricks force witnesses to speak up and his team nabs the culprits. As the excitement reaches its peak and I sit on the edge of the seat to see how will Abhay solve the mystery, waiting for some more surprises, the mystery gets solved–just like that.
What makes up for the rushed plot and the lack of research is the performance of Kunal Kemmu. The actor who has been restricted to the comedy space does his job well as a serious STF officer. He tries to immerse you in the plot with his acting and looks convincing as he tries to get the truth out of the witnesses.
Though Abhay differentiates itself from Indian TV shows like Crime Patrol, Savdhaan India and true-crime based-movies by steering clear of overdramatisation, it could have been an interesting watch minus its subplot.
Each episode of the ZEE5 original is inspired by a real-life incident. The makers are planning to release two episodes in a month.