ZEE5's web series "Abhay" with Kunal Kemmu in the title role as an unsmiling cop from the Special Task Force who investigates impossibly complicated crime cases, is a thriller that throws away its potential by indulging in excessive gore. The makers almost seem to enjoy describing depravity in detail.
The first episode was a takeoff on the notorious Pandher case where a businessman and his househelp kidnapped scores of children, brutalised them and, hold on to your stomachs, cut them up and ate them.
This level of depravity is, according to me, not filmable. And the first episode where the cannibalistic criminal's (played by Deepak Tijori) man Friday (Gopal Singh) sat chopping up the child's corpse had me filled with revulsion, not so much at the savage act of violence as the screen delineation of it.
Producer B.P. Singh is a crime specialist of sorts on Indian television. His "CID", said to be the longest-running show on Indian television, was avidly watched by families.
From the two episodes I've seen of Singh's web series "Abhay" seems like a celebration of depravity. Little children being tortured and killed, a woman chained to a bed and tongue-licked like a cat by a maniac, parents getting their heads bashed with a pressure cooker by their son while a 'Bhajan' plays in the background (a better choice would have been the song "Tujhe suraj kahun ya chanda mera naam karega roshan").
In addition, the protagonist Abhay who constantly scowls as though he ate something that didn't agree with him in the morning, has his own demon (played by Iranian actress Elnaaz Norouzi) to deal with.
The second episode again based on a true-crime, has the talented Anshuman Jha as the above-mentioned 'honhaar beta' who batters his parents to death and holds a girl, befriended on social media, captive in the house.
Anshuman is chilling in his sociopath's avatar. The evil glint in his eye serves as ample warning that something is not right here. Maybe he knows what we don't.
Though the denouement in both the episodes was not convincing, and the marginal characters came and delivered their lines as though auditioning for episodes of "The X Files", the overall presentation is tightly wound and engrossing.
But the violent content must be toned down, as it borders on brutal insensitivity.
While interrogative the cowering child abuser who says, "Main toh bachon ko pyar karta hoon", Kunan blurts out, "Mader..rape karta hain bachchon ka".
Watch out for the misuse of the freedom provided by the digital space. Freedom comes with great responsibility. Producer B.P. Singh, who now heads the FTII, should know that.
Web series: "Abhay"
Cast: Kunal Kemmu
Rating: 2/5 stars