Updated: February 1, 2018 7:00:43 am
“Deshbhakti gender dekh kar nahi aati (Patriotism does not have a gender),” says actor Juhi Chawla who plays defence minister Shraddha Pandit in Alt Balaji’s latest offering The Test Case. And this is probably what former president Pranab Mukherjee believed in when he announced the induction of women in combat roles in Indian armed forces back in 2017. But even after the announcement, questions like ‘will she be able to live in the tents?’, ‘does she even know how to shoot?’, ‘will she be able to match up with her male counterparts in terms of physical strength?’ popped up time and again putting the career of women army officers in doubt.
However, the hero of Ekta Kapoor’s latest web series The Test Case, Nimrat Kaur aka captain Shikha Sharma has a reply to these perennial queries and that too without being preachy. Undoubtedly, Kaur is the lifeblood of Alt Balaji’s latest web series. She joins the Special Armed Forces Training Centre as a case study for other women on the recommendation of the defence minister and against the wish of the army generals, her superiors and fellow commandos.
From the pilot episode of this 10 episodes web-series, we get a hint about the hardships Nimrat’s character has to face in the all-men territory of the army. The signage at the entrance of the training centre reads, “We make men out of boys” giving an idea that men have been wielding guns and fighting wars since forever and they will continue to do so. But Captain Shikha Sharma (Nimrat) is here to prove that she, like men, can survive the rigorous training and deserves an equal right to serve her country.
It is Nimrat’s effortless and natural acting in her debut web series that sets her apart from the leading ladies of Ekta Kapoor’s other productions. The “sweat, blood and tears” she has given to the character is much-evident as we see her going an extra mile on the screen. She is no arm candy, an eye pleaser or a someone who starts with an ambition of achieving big but end up being played in the hands of a cunning mother-in-law or sister-in-law. Ekta, who has until now cashed on shapeshifting snake-women and regressive beti, bahu or biwi in her soap operas, has offered her audience with something which has never been shown on screen.
The Test Case is a unique story which hasn’t been narrated in any Indian film or TV show yet. It highlights the acceptance of women in combat roles and directors Nagesh Kukunoor and Vinay Waikul have done justice to the script of this one-of-its-kind web series. The training sessions of Nimrat are shot as they should be and Vinay Waikul has given detailed attention to every frame giving the web series a film like feel.
The other best thing about the web-series is its dialogues. Take for example, Nimrat Kaur telling her male colleagues, “Vagina or pussy as people call it, is addressed to a person who has no guts, and balls refers to someone with courage, when in fact, the vagina is the strongest muscle of women and the balls are the weakest part of a man’s body.” Other actors Atul Kulkarni as Colonel Ajinkya Sathe, Rahul Dev as Subedar Kirpal Bhatti, Anoop Soni as Colonel Imtiaz Hussain have left a mark with their brilliant performances making the series a perfect one to be binge-watched.
In times when the entire country is debating over Padmaavat’s valorisation of Jauhar, its message of women killing themselves instead of getting raped is being challenged by The Test Case’s Shikha Sharma (Nimrat) who despite getting assaulted sexually by a colleague doesn’t turn into a hapless creature. Instead, she is the one who fights her own battle and gives it back to her violator.
If only the makers of The Test Case would have avoided adding the futile anthem, weak background score and a few unnecessary sequences like the one about Nimrat’s brother committing suicide, we could have easily tagged it as one of the best we have seen on the web in recent times.
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