Cease (me) in case you suppose you have heard this one earlier than. (We realise you’ll be able to’t however simply bear with us. And no, it isn’t a Smiths reference.) A suicidal protagonist desires to die however they cannot start to kill themselves. Uncertain of the way to proceed, they’re launched to a novel thought: rent a hitman to do it for them. It is a widespread conceit in filmmaking, a lot in order that it has its personal web page on each popular culture database IMDb, and plot conventions catalogue TV Tropes. Stand-up comedian Anirban Dasgupta and newcomer Dibya Chatterjee, the 2 creators of the brand new Amazon Prime Video miniseries Afsos — Hindi for “regret” — probably know this, which is why they add a brand new ingredient to the combo: an elixir of life.
On the floor, Afsos — based mostly on the little-known Bengali novel “Golper Goru Chaande” — comes throughout as a black comedy that desires to have interaction with morbid questions, together with the worth of life, the spectre of demise, and the worth of immortality. However the Amazon collection — written by creators Dasgupta and Chatterjee with one other newcomer in Sourav Ghosh — is rarely clear on what the tone is meant to be. All too usually, Afsos finds itself in a a lot completely different comedy subgenre, an absurdist one, one the place the laughs are depending on the viewers leaving its brains behind. That in itself could also be beneficiant, as Dasgupta largely fails to channel his comedian expertise on display with few exceptions.
Sadly, the failure of its comedic tag is hardly the one downside for Afsos — and its inventive group. The Amazon collection suffers from an incoherent narrative, the place issues merely occur as a result of the writers have predetermined for them to occur, not as a result of they need to. Characters seem and disappear out of nowhere in Afsos, which both treats them as plot fodder or terminates them when it runs out of concepts for his or her character arcs. So as to add to that, the path by Anubhuti Kashyap (Moi Marjaani) is amateurish in elements, which in flip impacts the performances of the actors. That leaves behind a present that does not have the requisite finesse to ever actually pull you in.
Afsos opens with our suicidal protagonist Nakul (Gulshan Devaiah), a failed Mumbai-based author who’s getting ready to kill himself on the practice tracks. This is not his first try — there have been a dozen beforehand — as we’re advised within the opening 10 minutes that different individuals typically die when Nakul tries to commit suicide. Unfortunate in each a part of his life, Nakul laments to the therapist Shloka Sreenivasan (Anjali Patil) about his misfortune — what everybody else would as an alternative name luck. On his means again house, as Nakul once more fails to kill himself by jaywalking, he is handed a pamphlet that factors him within the path of an organization that provides assisted suicide providers.
Besides Nakul would not actually wish to die, as his therapist simply deduces, and which he later admits after a near-death expertise. The issue is his contract has been handed to Upadhyay (Heeba Shah), who all the time completes a job and would not take no for a solution. In the meantime, a parallel subplot in Afsos stretching from London, United Kingdom to Harsil, Uttarakhand entails an aged sage known as Fokatiya Baba (Lalit Tiwari), a pushed police Inspector Bir Singh (Aakash Dahiya), and the scheming scientist Dr. Goldfish (Jamie Alter), all of whom get blended up in a a number of homicide case that centres on an elixir of life, which — because of coincidences — ties into our protagonist’s life.
Although Nakul has a half-deathwish, his character is rarely actually in peril for the reason that Amazon collection would collapse with out him. For what it is value, Afsos toys with the thought of killing its protagonist in a quick meta-moment — Nakul’s therapist basically breaks the fourth wall — however it then instantly chickens out. It is the closest it involves commenting on the style it is based mostly in, and its unwillingness to push additional is a disappointment. And in not doing so, Afsos offers up the choice of venturing into surreal humour. Had it been comfy in embracing its obscured id, it might then use that to justify any variety of occasions, together with the repeated defiance of the legal guidelines of physics that it indulges in.
Certain, a few of it’s meaningless in huge image phrases however it’s all a part of the writers’ toolkit to maintain Nakul alive on Afsos, which reads like plot armour chargeable for his continued existence because the present goes on. It is shoddy writing, and much from the one occasion of it. Nakul and Shloka have recognized one another for six months after we first see them and but, he narrates his total pitiful backstory prefer it’s their first assembly. Exposition is noticeably poor typically, with characters actually prodding one another to speak about themselves, or launching into (unprompted) monologues that both reveal their motivations or expound on the present’s themes.
Writing is finally an infinite bane for Afsos. Its characters, most of whom are largely wasted, overlook or turn into silly as fits the plot. The narrative, which progresses in a lacklustre and meandering trend, will depend on coincidences to drive itself ahead at instances. Unable to craft real thrills, the Amazon collection attracts shock worth from killing harmless individuals — together with youngsters — round Nakul, which makes the black comedy lots more durable to digest. And in a lone case, it turns right into a Bollywood musical out of the blue. All that comes collectively to make a contrived and unbelievable collection of occasions, particularly within the finale — there are eight episodes; we have seen all.
Identical to Nakul regretted hiring a hitman, we remorse to tell you that the Amazon collection is not deserving of your time. (Sorry, not sorry) it was too becoming a title — Afsos — not for use as a punchline.
Afsos is out now on Amazon Prime Video worldwide.