Web Show: The Night Manager
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapur, Tillotama Shome, Sobhita Dhulipala, Ravi Behl, Saswata Chatterjee
Director: Sandeep Modi, Priyanka Ghose
OTT: Disney+ Hotstar
Rating: 3 Moons
Anil Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapur, scenic Sri Lankan locations and a thrilling story. Doesn't this just make for a perfect recipe? Disney+ Hotstar's latest series titled The Night Manager has all these ingredients that could possibly cook the heartiest meal for the weekend binge-watch. Directed by Sandeep Modi and Priyanka Ghose, the four-episode show is currently streaming on the OTT giant. The Night Manager is the official Hindi adaptation of John le Carré’s novel of the same name.
Since the show is based on a novel, the audience who watched the British version of the show might draw similarities between the setting and the foundation plot point but The Night Manager breaks past the notion of a frame-by-frame 'remake'. Making it palatable for an Indian audience, it balances the characteristics of the characters without going out of the realm it is made for. Set in Bangladesh, it narrates the story of Shaan Sengupta (Aditya Roy Kapur), a charming night manager working at a hotel in Dhaka who meets Safina, a 14-year-old girl married to one of the most dangerous men, Freddy Rahman. Taking a major risk, she alerts Shaan about Freddy's illegal activities and even his association with the 'Merchant of Death', Shailendra Rungta aka Shelly (Anil Kapoor).
Unlike most remakes, The Night Manager is a refreshing adaptation that leaves you surprised. Despite knowing what's going to follow in the next frame, you are taken by surprise by the modifications made. While Aditya is no Tom Hiddleston, he does find a way to charm us by not attempting to copy the actor blindly. There’s a unique touch to every performance lending credibility to the narrative. By the end of the 4th episode, The Night Manager will leave you wanting for more.
The build-up of the story of The Night Manager will excite you just to bid you adieu with enough curiosity and several questions in your mind. The introduction of Anil Kapoor’s Shelly and Tillotama Shome’s Lipika Saikia Rao is thoroughly interesting and sets the right tone for their characters to grow on you. Aditya’s track with the teenage girl is instantly likable. As the episodes progress, you are made to have a sense of foreboding but soon the bubble bursts.
If you are expecting a second season after these 4 episodes, you aren’t completely wrong. The twist in the tale is The Night Manager is divided into two parts. This is just the first. The story shall continue in the second half which will stream on Disney+ Hotstar in June. This also happens to be the biggest disadvantage of The Night Manager. The drama that’s required to make a show unpredictable and edgy is lacking sheerly due to the decision of making it a two-part series. The first season seems to be used only to highlight Aditya and Anil’s characters and mark the beginning of their conflict. As of now, there’s no conflict as such.
In spite of its flaws, The Night Manager holds your attention with the atmospherics and screenplay most of the time. To its benefit, the show is a cinematic experience with lavishness oozing out in every frame. While the pace is consistent, the show lacks the highs and lows required to keep you on the edge of your seat. This could be as the major drama and action sequences are reserved carefully for the next part.
Aditya Roy Kapur makes his web series debut with The Night Manager. After a series of poor performances in the past and playing an alcoholic countless times, he surprises you with a sophisticated and calm act. As the charming night manager, he thankfully doesn't pull helicopters (Om) or fight goons with abnormal strength. This makes it one of his most refreshing and comeback-sort of performances. While playing the night manager, he looks sharp in suits and there's a certain degree of restraint that he exudes. As the story shifts to Sri Lanka, he gets even better. Hotter too. His on-screen equation with Shelly's son Taha is loveable. The actor does well even in action-oriented and dramatic scenes too.
Is Anil Kapoor 66 years old? Oh, that's definitely not true because he looks and mesmerises the way he did in his 20s. Though the full potential of Shelly is yet to be explored, he creates an air of menace through his eyes and voice. He will definitely pull your attention and hold it till the last. The aura Anil carries with him is unmatched and one cannot deny it. He shows shades of sternness, wickedness, and viciousness effortlessly.
The mercury raises when Anil and Aditya, who starred together in Malang, share the screen. Their scenes picturised in the Shimla hotel are gems and up the excitement for a classic face-off. The actual drama will now unfold in Sri Lanka and we cannot wait to watch the continuation.
Tillotama Shome is a magician. Right from the word go, she begins her masterclass and doesn't allow you to withdraw yourself from it without her permission. You are naturally sucked into her act and without realising, you are with Lipika Saikia Rao in her world. Sobhita Dhulipala is one of the most beautiful actresses we have in India. She's aesthetically royal, poised and a powerhouse performer. However, The Night Manager restricts her to just wearing sexy bikinis and setting the temperature high with her oomph. It is only in the 4th episode that she gets to do something significant. Before her character Kaveri is explored to its depth, the season ends abruptly.
Ravi Behl returns to acting after a long time with the character of Jayu in The Night Manager. He plays Shelly's aide. Despite limited screen time, he shines and leaves behind a strong impact. Saswata Chatterjee adds a comic angle to the series with his witty dialogues. But there's a lot more to be discovered about him.
The Night Manager is a promising visual delight that could be a decent weekend watch. It also boasts of stellar work done by the lead cast. Having said so, the series certainly lacks repeat and future recall value at this point in time. In a nutshell, The Night Manager is a decent attempt, all thanks to the correct way of adapting the novel. Aditya and Anil are definitely the bigger attractions to give some room to ignore flaws.
PeepingMoon.com gives The Night Manager 3 Moons