Why I started watching 'Yudh' and saw it till the end
I started watching Yudh. And I finished watching Yudh. Yes, two important statements. And now let me explain, why. Why I watched the entire series and what I think about it now that it is over:
|Poster of Yudh, Courtesy- Google|
Big ensemble starcast. Big name associations and seasoned actors: Amitabh Bachchan, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Kay Kay Menon, Nawazuddin Siddique, Sarika, Zakir Husain, Mona Wasu. New faces: Aahana Kumra (Taruni), Pavail Gulati (Rishi), Ayesha Raza (Nayan). And then there was Anurag Kashyap looking over the entire project as the Creative Director. This had to be something different, something big, something we haven't seen before. And so, all eyes turned to the TV sets on 14th July at 10.30 PM to catch the pilot episode of Amitabh Bachchan's first fiction tv show. My personal reason? I just worked with BigB, how could I not see his new show that was being talked about so much?
The first episode
Heads had turned. The setting was introduced. We met Yudhisthir Sikarwar. We saw a concerned and honest protagonist. We saw long glimpses of construction sites. But we didn't get the storyline...at all.
(I was surprised when I asked my friends about what they thought about the first episode, and apart from one, who is also a regular latent reader of my blog, nobody seemed to even care about the show)
Surprisingly, the situation remained the same till the end of the week. 4 episodes down and we had no clue what was happening. There was extensive media coverage. Too many reviews flooded the internet. Twitter was abuzz with first-thoughts. Speculations were rife. Why Yudh is going to work? Is Yudh already failing? Will it be able to battle the TRP wars?
No doubt, the story was slow. One event after the other, but none having a closure. So we got it, that is the big suspense. We shall know at the end of the 20-episode series- that's when all the jumbled pieces would get stringed together. And so we continued watching.
The following weeks
I, for once was at home and so saw the first week episodes on TV when they aired. Second week onwards I didn't have a TV and so, relied on the 3-day delayed Youtube uploads to watch the new episodes. But I continued watching. One episode after the other. The story became darker and more intense. I was glued to it. Naxalism, bureaucracy, politics, murder. Too much was happening. Never before shown on Indian television. Sensitive topics have been meant to be avoided on Indian tv after all!
While one episode was too slow, some were too fast. Sometimes unconnected incidents suddenly seemed to make sense. What felt like a 'why do we need to see this' moment, after many episodes, connected a string.
And then this was different. This was a new kind of series. Probably something on the lines of the American shows that we download and see, sometimes many seasons at once. But then this was also a big change from the Indian tv shows we have grown up seeing. No heavy make ups, but normal looking characters; no filmy sets, but real and bad looking walls on the municipal hospital; intense mix and almost real life like and believable storyline. This was unlike shows we have seen previously. (I won't talk about Anil Kapoor’s '24', since I haven’t seen it)
The finale week
When the last week of the show was here, we suddenly get to know who the villian is, who the mastermind is behind all that is happening, and frankly, it was a bit 'too easily made available' realisation. We could have done with a little more suspense. Atleast for one more episode may be. And then there is a flashback in the 18th episode, and within a few minutes we know exactly what's happening and who is doing what for what reason.
But then, we are the viewers. We know more than what our protagonist Yudh knows. We wait for him to get to know things. But then we also know that the cause isn't good enough. Because probably our watching of shows like Sherlock has resulted in us expecting something much bigger and more eventful than what is actually shown to us here as the story unfolds.
And finally there is the last episode. This is going to be the epic climax. Things are going to be set alright. And after an entire month of playing mind games with the audience, our hero and the anti-hero are involved in a climactic big fist-and-kick-and-brick fight on an under-construction building. (While the story is set around Ghaziabad in UP, the building somehow manages to have Mumbai local trains running beside it. But we can forgive that error!) Anyways, the fight happens, the hero kills the villian, and he is just reaching out to save his daughter when...
It ends. The last episode ends.
Yeah, just like that.
Leaving a cliffhanger
And then we realise that this was a smart game by the writers of the show. They left a cliffhanger. A formal conclusion to whatever that was happening, but still leaving enough number of doubts and speculations in the mind of the viewers. What happened to Mona and Anand? What did Rishi do? Most importantly, how did the media and the police react after playing such an important part throughout the story?
We will know. But apparently in Yudh Season 2, whenever the producers announce that is happening. And it is bound to happen.
The coming of age of Indian television
What I am happy about is that the show (and probably 24 as well) has set a precedence for upcoming shows on Indian television. May be Yudh could have been better directed. It will be in the future. Not just Yudh S2, but also other tv series that come up. While there are shows on Indian tv which have been running continuously for 16 years, here came a show with a limited time span. Just 20 episodes. And it clicked.
Having over 900 friends on facebook and a majority of them being in the media industry, it was surprising how I didn’t see one single update from any of my friends about the show since it started. And I am happy that after so many years, I decided to follow an Indian tv show, the likes of which are here to stay, and wrote about it. While Suits, Arrow, Sherlock, House of cards, Game of Thrones have religiously dedicated followers, let's add a new show to the list, an Indian one for a change. Let’s welcome a new type of show on Indian television, because the audience is growing intelligent and the producers and directors need to pace up, because these new type of shows are what we look forward to now, and because probably someday soon, Indian shows would be setting new records of being the most popular shows abroad. There is time for that.
For now, welcome aboard, Yudh!