Monday, December 5, 2022

Entertainment Review: London Files

The daughter of a media baron goes missing and a glum cop is assigned the case. He has to track the seedy criminal underbelly of London to solve the mystery. Deepa Gahlot reviews the Arjun Rampal, Purab Kohli and Medha Rana-starrer on Voot Select.

The viewer gets a non-touristy look at London, but there was no real reason for this series to be set in the UK capital. The comparison to Luther, with its troubled cop, is there too, and Arjun Rampal plays detective Om Singh with a kind of gloom radiating off him.

There is a tragedy in Om’s past, that causes the tormented look and drug dependence, which gets worse when he is given the task of tracing Maya (Medha Rana), the missing daughter of “media tycoon” Amar Roy (Purab Kohli). Before he can even start investigating, Maya’s mutilated body is found, and witnesses line up, a bit too conveniently, to point a finger at the father. Roy is arrested for murder, but the hotshot honcho does not even hire his own team to dig into the suspicious death of his daughter.

Meanwhile, London is in the grip of a political storm—the home secretary, with the backing of Amar Roy’s media empire, is pushing for an anti-immigrant bill. Maya was opposing her father, instigated by her devious roommate Carol (Shanice Archer).  There is an underground (literally) cult stirring up violence, led by Gopi (Gopal Datt), a robed guru figure, feeding gibberish slogans to his acolytes. Om’s son was somehow caught up in the chaos too, and committed a terrible crime, which is the main reason for the detective’s angst.

Om pops pills, vapes furiously, runs around the city and descends into sewers, as his boss (Sagar Aarya) pushes him to go for therapy and then fires him.

Crime series are either engagingly fast-paced, or at least offer some kind of guilty pleasure; Sachin Pathak’s London Files (written by Prateek Payodhi), does not manage the former and is not even trashy enough for the latter. You don’t care about what happens to the bratty Maya, and the supposed villain, Roy, actually gets sympathy. There is no explanation for the rise of Gopi, who has the power to incite a destructive revolt. The cops in London are obviously inept, if Om has to depend on an obliging Indian hacker– an overused stereotype — to get information.

The six-part series starts off well, and then gets increasingly bizarre. It introduces a very real problem of burgeoning racism and then goes nowhere with it. It is not even clear why the powerful Amar Roy would support the anti-immigrant bill. Arjun Rampal, does his part with sincerity—not to typecast him, but perhaps he deserves to play a suave character, not a haggard man with a rumpled appearance, who grimaces at himself in the mirror.

London Files

Directed by: Sachin Pathak

Cast: Arjun Rampal, Purab Kohli, Medha Rana and others

On Voot Select

Deepa Gahlot
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best-known entertainment journalists. A National Award-winning fim critic and author of several books on film and theatre. She tweets at @deepagahlot

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