A start has been made to the Chakravyuh franchise and it is quite satisfying, notes Joginder Tuteja.
The beginning of Chakravyuh: An Inspector Virkar Crime Thriller has a strong sense of déjà vu.
After all, a girl in distress, her videos been clandestinely shot, a mysterious stranger, the blackmail that follows and an indication of cyber crime reminds one of the Web series Hello Mini, the second season of which was recently premiered.
Incidentally, the team behind Chakravyuh and Hello Mini is the same.
But there is a difference.
This time, the man in the midst of things is Prateik Babbar.
The actor takes a central role in the franchise-in-the-making Web series.
He is a quintessential angry young man.
He shoots first, and talks later.
Even though his superior (Ashish Vidyarthi) supports him, he advises him by saying, 'Har ek goli ka hisaab dena padta hai.'
On the other hand, his pizza-eating forensics experts colleague (Gopal Dutt) shares nuggets of wisdom like 'Keep only one bullet in your pistol so that your anger is controlled by the time you fire five blanks.'
With masala inputs like these that are straight out of the '80s, one can sense author Piyush Jha's love for pulp fiction, since the show is based on his novel Anti-Social Network: An Inspector Virkar Crime Thriller.
It is apparent that he adopts a hardcore commercial approach towards the writing where one doesn't have to stress about the loose ends or coincidences, and instead focus on the quick fire entertainment.
The beginning isn't as quick fire though even as Ruhi Singh's oomph appeal does catch your attention.
However, it picks up when the murders start happening in such a gruesome fashion that you are forced to look away, even as Gopal Dutt comfortably digests his pizzas.
Things get better with the arrival of antagonist Shiv Pandit, and from here, Chakravyuh turns out to be really exciting, engaging and entertaining.
This is one of those Web series where the second half turns is better than the first, as you explore one layer after another and get more engrossed.
Suddenly, the intentions of the characters start becoming clearer and how they are connected to each other.
The approach of a prologue scene at the beginning of every episode is also smartly done, and that's what makes proceedings from Episode Five even more intriguing.
Director Sajit Warrier presents Prateik in a true hero fashion and though the duo could have gone a bit easy on the swag quotient as well as the husky voice, the job is done.
Shiv Pandit is quite apt in a shorter screen time.
Simran Kaur Mundi looks really glam and as the series progresses, she gets an opportunity to display histrionics too.
Gopal Dutt is restrained, which is a good thing.
Ruhi Singh brings on the glam quotient and is just right for the part.
One would have expected more meat in Ashish Vidyarthi’s character, given the seniority and screen presence.
The late Asif Basra does well in the part of an investigating officer.
Rohan Joshi, who plays a hacker and was a delight in last year's OTT release Axone, is wonderful yet again.
A start has been made to the franchise and it is quite satisfying, thanks to the way the first season culminates.
Chakravyuh streams on MX Player.