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LEILA

Synopsis: In a near-future world where an oppressive regime segregates society, one woman skirts the system to search for the daughter taken from her years ago.

What’s it all about: Set in the late 2040s, Leila takes place in Aryavarta — Sanskrit for the abode of the noble ones — where society has been divided along the tenet of “purity”, led by a Mr. Joshi (Sanjay Suri). The society which is living in segregation, have been divisibly living in their own sectors, that is physically barricaded by walls. Inter-community marriages are effectively prohibited, and those that disobey bear the brunt of the powers that-be. The series is based in 2047 in a fictionalised city that seems to be modelled on Delhi, and introduces us to Shalini Pathak (Huma Qureshi) her husband Rizwan Chowdhury (Rahul Khanna), and their daughter Leila (Leysha Mange), who are relaxing by the pool in their upscale house.But their time together is cut short after some goons break in, kidnapping Shalini and dropping her off at an Aryavarta indoctrination centre for women. She’s still there two years later, going through the daily routine of taking mind-altering pills and chanting “My lineage is my destiny”. It’s all allegedly preparation for a “purity test”, with those who pass it deemed fit to return home. Or so claims the centre chief Dr.Iyer (ArifZakaria, from Nanak Shah Fakir), referred to as Guru Ma by the women. But she longs to be with her daughter and the rest of the story follows her quest to be reunited with Leila again. There are other things happening in the show as well, more lawlessness and disorganization in Aryavarta which adds to the whole story.

What we liked: The show has shown a lot of courage with the kind of plot and the story that it has put out, but that’s about it for the story. The biggest plus for this show is the performances from the actors. Huma Qureshi is simply brilliant in the show. She shines from the start to the end and doesn’t let her performance graph go down, not even for one scene. Rahul Khanna is fine. Siddharth does well and gives his best. The other supporting actors do great as well. The production values were great as well.

What we didn’t like: While the story was quite courageous but that’s it about the story because it seriously is a let-down. It had a lot of potential but then it doesn’t live upto it. The show also ends on a dissatisfying note. When you give 5-6 hours of your life to a series, and then it ends in such a way it really lets you down even more. The directorsdisappoint as well. The actors haven’t been used to their full potential when they could have been. The treatment in a few scenes seems off as well.

LEILA now exclusively streaming on Netflix

KAAFIR

Synopsis: The webseries follows the journey of a journalist who is seeking justice for an alleged militant.

What’s it about: KAAFIR is apparently based on a true story which revolves around a 22-year-old Pakistani woman, Kainaaz Akhtar (Dia Mirza), who is turned away by hee husband and her maritial home due to certain circumstances. But she fails in her attempt to commit suicide and she is found near the Poonch river on the Indian side of the border. Since Kainaaz’s body is found next to two other militants, she is assumed to be one of them and gets imprisoned for seven years. During her time in prison, she also gives birth to a daughter named Sehar. Lawyer-turned-journalist, Vedant Rathor (Mohit Raina) spots the footage of Sehar in one of his ongoing projects. Asked by his boss to find a ‘human interest’ story with an emotional angle, Vedant gets to know that Sehar has been living with her mother in a prison of Kashmir. Through successive interviews in jail with Kainaaz, Vedant decodes the life of this Pakistani woman and her daughter. He then realizes through these interviews that she is not a militant and this is just a caee of mistaken identity and then decides to help her out.

What we liked: The story is just beautiful in it’s own way. It is simple yet it manages to touch you. This mainly is due to the reason that the writers have kept the story as real and natural as possible, which shows and it works. The director has done a good job as well in bringing the script to the screen. The performances from the actors just adds more realism and in turn makes it even more interesting to watch. Dia Mirza is just splendind in her portrayal of Kainaaz. Her performance is really honest and she has managed to get into the skin of her character quite easily. Mohit Raina as Vedant does a great job as well. He seems like a perfect fit for the character. Debutante Dishita Jain, who plays Kainaaz’s daughter Seher, is truly endearing. Besides this, the film is technically astute as well.

What we didn’t like: It can get a bit slow in a few scenes but otherwise, it’s all good. If there’s one series you decide to binge watch over the weekend, let it be this one.

KAAFIR now exclusively streaming on Zee5.

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