» Movies » CAT Review: Authentic, Praiseworthy

CAT Review: Authentic, Praiseworthy

December 09, 2022 16:31 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

CAT is worth a watch, recommends Deepa Gahlot.

The image of Punjab created by films and music videos is light years away from the grim, crime and corruption-ridden Punjab of Balwinder Singh Janjua's Web series CAT.

If at all the mandatory sarson la khet appears, it is to contrast the cheery yellow with the crimson splatter of blood.

Janjua has created, produced, co-written and directed (with Rupinder Chahal, Jimmy Singh and Anil Rodhan) the series.

In recent years, films like Udta Punjab and Chauthi Koot and before that,Maachis and Drohkaal, have portrayed the reality of the state -- if there was militancy in the 1980s, there is the current epidemic of drugs affecting the youth.


In the eight-part Netflix series set in a border town, the parents of young Gary (Abhishant Rana) are shot dead by a terrorist and in a rage, he kills one of the murderers.

He is offered a deal by cop Sehtab Singh (Suvinder Vicky) to become a 'cat', that is go undercover into a terrorist group and report on them.

After the mission, he is given a new identity as Gurnam Singh and a new home, where he raises his younger siblings, by working as a mechanic.

Years later, Gurnam's (Randeep Hooda) peaceful life is shattered again when his teenage brother Sunny (Danish Sood) is arrested for drug-dealing.

He approaches Sehtab Singh for help, and in return for the favour, he is asked to become a 'cat' again, this time in the drug gang run by powerful politician Madam Aulakh (Geeta Agarwal) and her right-hand man, Laadi (Dakksh Ajit Singh).

It is easy enough to earn Laadi's trust, and Gurnam finds out the route of the drugs entry from across the border, and its distribution.

What he does not know is that a political game is underfoot to control the region and the narcotics trade, between Madam Aulakh and the upstart Jaggi Pradhan (K P Singh), and there are moles at a high level in the police force.

While Gurnam's story is played out, other secondary characters are introduced, like Sehtab's clownish assistant Chandan (Pramod Pathak), an honest female cop Babita (Hasleen Kaur), a crooked lab assistant Seher (Elisha Mayor), the drug mules who work the delivery and distribution of the drugs. Almost all the young people want to migrate to Canada, as if it were the promised land.

As long as the series stays on the track of busting the criminal ring it is engaging, but it takes too many detours, not all of which add anything to the plot. Like Madam Aulakhs daughter Kimi's (Kavya Thapar) passion for a Punjabi pop singer Rocky Ranjha (Eklavey Kashyap), the supposedly comic but actually crass track of one of the drug runner's (Sukhwinder Chahal) affair with a hooker (Coral Bhamra), who wants to make a video with Rocky.

It flashbacks to Madam Aulakh's past and her rise to political power, and Laadi's marital problems.

Babita's low caste and conversion to Christanity is an interesting subplot that is perfunctorily brought up and then ignored.

It is the macho world of corruption, crime and power-broking in which Madam Aulakh is an aberration, but she is clever and ruthless enough to play by the rules made by men. But even she is no match for the deviousness of Sehtab Singh.

There is too much violence, a lot of it gratuitous or grisly (a man tossed into a stone crusher).

Whenever Randeep Hooda or Suvinder Vicky are on screen, the series perks up. Both have given outstanding performances.

Hooda portrays the right mix of crafty and innocent, Vicky's Sehtab Singh looks harmlessly avuncular, but he pulls hidden strings and drives the plot forward.

The music adds spice to the proceedings but it is kept to a vanilla level -- particularly after the murder of Sidhu Moosewala, when there is a running controversy over the sexist and violent imagery in Punjabi lyrics.

The series has several Sikh characters and is in Punjabi, so many viewers might need subtitles.

But the language, locations, production design, costumes bring an authenticity to CAT that is praiseworthy.

It is not entertaining like other lightweight crime shows on OTT, but is worth a watch.

CAT streams on Netflix.

CAT Review Rediff Rating:

Get Rediff News in your Inbox: