In the Indian Police Force, Rohit Shetty makes references to some great films. The second episode begins with cop Kabir Malik (Sidharth Malhotra) having a conversation with his ailing wife (played by Isha Talwar) about the Hrishikesh Mukherjee film Anand (1971). Kabir says that he hates the film, much to the disappointment of his wife. Later, in one of the episodes, a bad guy, after he is beaten up, makes an offer to one of the protagonists. A clear homage to The Godfather (1972). In a flashback, some characters go to watch Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995). However, the effect of Rohit Shetty’s cop drama is hardly close to the films he referenced. All the films mentioned have a certain amount of honesty in them and manage to express their emotions to the audience. In the Indian Police Force, on the other hand, emotions are caged in the overtly loud and uninspired filmmaking.
The series opens with the aftermath of a bomb blast and we see wounded and disfigured bodies. After lingering on this ghastly scene for a few moments, we are introduced to Kabir as he walks out from the smoke, in ‘slow motion’, with an elevated background score. Right in the opening minutes of the show, something feels off. Having the protagonist enter a gloomy scene heroically takes the rhythm away. It is clear that empathising with the victims of the explosion was never the motive.
Indian Police Force lousily follows the template of an action thriller. There are scenes that make you feel nothing because they are so out of place. Every now and then, we are fed with drone shots of cities that just expand more and more, as if to bide away time. Almost every episode begins with one and sometimes ends the same way. The director’s idea of creating impact is restricted to just showing his characters move in ‘slow motion’. There is no way for you to feel closer to the world. It is a serious problem when episodes just over 30 minutes long start feeling stretched.
The screenplay is more tell than show, leaving little space to feel. The backstory of Kabir who is coping with the trauma of losing someone he loved lacks impact. Apart from what he says through simplistic dialogues, there is nothing for you to feel. You don’t believe in his inner demons because they never come out. Sequences meant to make you cry just end up being awkward. The lack of nuance in the screenplay translates even into the performances of its actors, who are merely reacting to whatever is written. In a dialogue exchange with his mother, Kabir asks her how to move on. She answers, “Bikhra hua sametkar (by bringing scattered things together)”, an advice that the makers should have followed.
Sidharth Malhotra struggles to bring authenticity to Kabir. All we witness is him trying to be a tough guy all the time. While confronting a terrorist, Kabir goes all kicks blazing while arguing with him about taking the life of innocents. It reminded me of the beautifully staged scene from Ram Gopal Varma’s, The Attacks of 26/11 (2013), in which Nana Patekar brings in a lot of understated flair to the rage. Here, however, it is all lost to mindless shouting. Vivek Oberoi as Joint CP Vikram Bakshi is glorious only in his head. His body language feels less like that of a senior cop and more like someone who is told to be one suddenly. He seems to be wasted in the film and so is Shilpa Shetty Kundra, playing the ATS chief. When there’s hardly any life to the characters in the script, there is little that the actors can do. It’s only Shweta Tiwari and Vaidehi Parshurami, who still manage to hold their guard.
Rohit Shetty seems uncomfortable as the director of the show. He struggles to make things work. There is little conviction in his execution even in the action scenes that he designed himself. When the screenplay is devoid of any twists and turns that are needed for a thriller to thrive, the burden of bringing out the excitement is solely on the action pieces. Indian Police Force struggles to captivate even through that. Rohit’s idea of action is having the good characters spot the bad ones and just pull-out guns to fire everywhere. Or having an entire episode of incessant gunfire and some brawls that feel so separated from the rest. Along with that, the thematic overlays fall into the traps of the good-Muslim-bad-Muslim troupe, making the show overly simplistic.
There is a beautiful song in the fourth episode that plays over some lively visuals. It is the only time during the series’ runtime that your mind is at ease. The show needed a similar charm and sway of emotions. Instead, what really reverberates in your head, after the end credits roll, is the background score, mixed with an excruciating siren from a police vehicle. It is the last thing you want to take from the series.
Series: Indian Police Force
Creator: Rohit Shetty
Directors: Rohit Shetty and Sushwanth Prakash
Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Vivek Oberoi, Mayank Taandon, Vaidehi Parshurami, Nikitin Dheer, Shweta Tiwari, Sharad Kelkar, Mukesh Rishi and Isha Talwar