Property is the bane of all families. In Pariwar, squabbling siblings show up to demand their piece of the pie, which is being wilfully squandered by papa Kashiram (Gajraj Rao in a terrible wig). The culprit is dodgy theatre actor Gangaram (Vijay Raaz), who, when not rehearsing, is busy plotting to get his paws on said property.
Given that there’s a talented bunch of actors at its disposal, this ‘war’ should have been fun. But there’s been more thought given to the names of Kashiram’s grown children — Mahipal (Yashpal Yadav), Shishupal (Ranvir Shorey), and Mandakini (Nidhi Singh) who discovers she has a soft spot for the villain’s son Munna (Abhishek Bannerjee), than the plot, which takes six episodes to get where it wants to.
The parivar is based in Prayagraj, aka Allahabad, so we get local colour by way of chatty ‘chat-walas’, tea-time offerings of dahi-jalebis, and mention of the sangam. A bit of Banarasi leheja shows up too, because Mahipal lives there, and some ‘tapori’ slang is slung in towards the end, because, well, maybe the writers thought it would be funny. And while it is a relief to get a series which is clearly trying to be light-hearted and family-friendly (the brothers show up with their wives – Anurita Jha and Sadiya Siddiqui – and kids), some novelty would have been welcome.
For a change, it’s nice to see Abhishek Banerjee not doing dark, sinister things. He plays a nurse (not a doctor, as he shamefacedly tells Guddan aka Mandy aka Mandakini). Now that might have had comic potential, and their ‘jodi’ is the freshest part of this series. There’s also a domestic worker (Kumar Varun) acting as an all-knowing ‘sutradhar’, who raises a few smiles. But like everything else, his patter peters out.
Pariwar has been directed by Sagar Ballary, who made Bheja Fry in 2007, and who has been in search of comic gold since. The theme, of uniting a disgruntled family using the ruse of a patriarch about to kick the bucket, is an old one. What this needed was smarter writing, and that goes for everything else in the crowded web-sphere where new shows are opening every minute. When you have such actors as Shorey, Yadav and Raaz, you need to give them lines they can run with.
Pariwar is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.
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