Society wants to believe it can identify evil people, or bad or harmful people, but it's not practical. There are no stereotypes.”― Ted Bundy (Famous Serial Killer)
In one of the scenes in “Asur”( Monster in Hindi) , CBI detective Dhananjay Rajput (Arshad Warsi) and his team find a corpse which is partly eaten by stray dogs and is erected in a field like a ‘scarecrow”. But little does he know that the corpse he is investigating is actually somebody he knows very well. The dead body dons a “mythological mask” of what has become a signature of a dreaded serial killer. The scene looks grim and has a Bollywood feel to it but does look more authentic in terms of crime/murder shows produced by Indian TV channels.
The Concept of “Asur”
“Asur” as a show wants to attempt a marriage between Indian mythology and modern day current affairs from the perspective of a serial killer. The content of the show wants us to believe that a small town priest’s son is actually the reincarnation of Satan/Asura or The Devil. But “Asur” adds some real life forensics, technology with the help of some decent performances of its main protagonists. The seed of the criminal mind is sown in the Holy city of Varanasi and the antagonist goes out to form a ‘cult’ of his own. The show also portrays high quality forensics at work. Up against the antagonist is a highly proficient and well-equipped CBI team headed by Dhananjay (Warsi). There are many scenes where a human body is examined quite graphically and yet it helps in the narrative. There is a lot of flashback in each episode which sort of ‘justifies’ the crazy mind of the “Asur”. Think of this show like a “Silence Of The Lambs meets Seven meets The Mindhunter” from an Indian angle. Thankfully the script doesn’t falter a bit into the regular over the top melodramatic situations for which Bollywood TV is infamous for. The show wears its darkness quite well. This is a welcome change in this genre of entertainment.
The Plot “Asur” takes place in present day India where an unknown serial killer is putting the CBI and Delhi Police in tenterhooks. The killer sends GPS coordinates of each murder to the Police and keeps them guessing about his next crime. Each murder is targeted at an individual who himself/herself is a do-gooder and successful. As this goes out of hand, a team of CBI officers set up a team to crack this case. This includes Dhananjay Rajput, FBI educated Nikhil Nair and a team of forensic and intelligence officials. In the process, Nikhil gets abducted by the killer. After many twists and turns, the killer gets busted but with some unanswered questions. As this transpires, Nikhi’s wife Naina also helps the CBI in this process. The ending is bitter-sweet with enough meat to set the tone for the second season.
Strengths Of “Asur”
Gaurav Shukla and his team have penned an effective story. From the outset, the idea of a deeply religious Indian serial killer is compelling. Each episode’s beginning takes us back to the childhood of the killer. And each episode gradually builds the case for unimaginable evil in his mind. There is an in depth look at why the ritualistic killing happens. It takes its roots in a troubled childhood. There are numerous points where Shukla tries to impress upon the fact that the killer is very scientific and ‘academic’ in choosing his victims. The killer looks at the sun signs and ‘kundali’ of each victim, assesses their societal standing and then executes. Each episode reveals something new about the killer. In one episode, he is able to fool an entire team of policemen in a graveyard and abducts Nikhil right under their nose. It looks a bit exaggerated but is passable.
The Production Design of “Asur” is quite good. The real- life locations in Varanasi are very effective. The Delhi locations, jails etc also look real. The music is also very good and the opening theme stays with you. Similarly, the real looking laboratories of forensics at CBI looks original with genuine shots and scientific references. The dead bodies also look real.
Weaknesses The problem with this show is unfortunately it’s actors. Barun Sobti as Nikhil does a decent job for a forensic investigator. Arshad Warsi also gives a mixed performance. Anupriya Goenka does an OK job. But my biggest problem is the casting of the ‘adult’ antagonists. They all look people right out of ‘Saas Bahu’ type content. One doesn’t get the offing of evil in any of them. Even the main antagonist looks very pretentious and ‘shabby’. The problem here is that the screenplay for better of the actors. However ,“Asur” still holds its own because of good direction and a solid screenplay. Final Verdict
“Asur” is a decent effort by Voot in the already convoluted online content market. I would give this show and its 8 Episodes a 7 out of 10 purely for its original idea and a great production design. This is a decent one-time watch.