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Available on  gplay  » Movies » Killer Soup Review: Manoj, Konkona Are Star Ingredients, But...

Killer Soup Review: Manoj, Konkona Are Star Ingredients, But...

January 11, 2024 13:29 IST
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Killer Soup's plots grow too convoluted and the strain of keeping the momentum going shows when its shrewd and surreal visuals lose steam, observes Sukanya Verma.

Against the stillness of lush mountains, fluffy skies and a statuesque windmill, the fictional, idyllic town of Mainjur in South India takes pride in having its head in the clouds. Inhabited by a strange set of people cloaking their ambition and secrets in the area's misty air, what we see isn't always what they seek.

When we first set foot inside Shetty Villa, the sound of serene violins accompany the hustle bustle of morning scenes filled with sights of a wife rustling up a trotter soup for a hairy husband in the bath.

While we speculate that what appears is an indication of the wickedness to follow, a husband and wife revel in the gentle grotesquery of their disingenuous interactions.


Swathi (Konkona Sensharma) is an erstwhile nurse harbouring dreams of running her own restaurant.

Her cooking skills are limited to a nasty soup that leaves her belching half Prabhakar Shetty (Manoj Bajpayee) citing acidity as a ready excuse for all his woes.

Prabhakar has a history of bad businesses and embezzling money from his big brother Arvind (Sayaji Shinde), a loutish construction businessman grudgingly backing his sibling's destined-to-doom projects -- The Last Resort and Hotel California.

More than his flair for inspired names, grovelling around his brother and infidelity towards his wife, it's Prabhakar flamboyant fashion and retro-style face-offs as though channelling Quick Gun Murugan's 'zimbly south' aesthetic that screams for attention.

Until the truth about his disfigured doppelganger (Bajpayee again) and Swathi's affair hatches itself into a sinister plot to play proxy with prosthetics.

Director Abhishek Chaubey's twisty Web series debut finds its kernel of an idea in a real-life instance of crime of passion.

Back in 2017, reports emerged about a woman killing her husband in cahoots with her lover, tossing acid on the latter's face and passing him off as her spouse until the truth finally came out.

Chaubey expands on the audacity of the offence along with co-creators Unaiza Merchant, Anant Tripathi and Harshad Nalwade in the vein of a black comedy while adding echoes of Macbeth's ghost and guilt to give Killer Soup its pungent flavour.

A whiff of Nina Simone, a dash of Robert Frost, a flimsy ode to Mani Ratnam's Bombay, Tu Hi Re and Manisha Koirala find a spot next to Shakespeare's soul in Chaubey's row of references.

It is certainly not his first brush with the Bard; he assisted Vishal Bhardwaj on Maqbool.

Before arriving on its 'all sound and fury, signifying nothing' conclusions, things start out deliciously well.

Filmed in Kerala, Chaubey's sprawling spread of cultural hodgepodge and moral ambiguity isn't aiming for credibility in accents or ethics. His quirky treatment and dark humour alternates between odd and intriguing to dole out trippy moments of flaky characters and crackpot motives.

A detective (Bucks) chanting the F-word like a chicken going cluck, a creepy cook (Vaishali Bisht) and creepier salon runner (Mallika Prasad Sinha) and a pair of cops (Anbuthasan and Nassar) at the helm of a police procedural driven more by poetry than law much to their bumbling superior's (Rajeev Ravindranathan) dismay.

There's also a resort employee (Kani Kusruti) acing the art of kalaripayattu and custard tarts, a jittery Anglo-Indian woman (Pippa Mukherjee) inhabiting a dimly lit room, a thuggish businessman (Sayaji Shinde) thwarting his art-loving daughter's (Anula Navlekar) Parisian dreams, a beast-sized bodyguard (Lal) who sympathises form a big chunk of Killer Soup's zest and zeal.

It's quite an assortment of actors -- a tremendously talented one at that -- designed to bring an element of volatility to the proceedings.

Between blood splattered on the floor, fireflies in a forest and poorly-spelled blackmail letters, the show reveals the camaraderie and cover-ups of evil minds and their extraordinary presence of mind.

Despite a notable body count, it's not conspiracy that brings on the misfortune.

Devious masterminds come into play as a means to survive the ordeal if also benefit from it as more and more players get involved. But as the saying goes, too many cooks spoil the broth.

Make that soup.

At one point of its jumbled, long-drawn-out narrative, Swathi wonders aloud, 'Kaunsa natak? Itne natak ho chuke hain, I am confused.'

I was too.

Over the course of its nearly hour long eight episodes, Killer Soup's plots grow too convoluted and the strain of keeping the momentum going shows when its shrewd and surreal visuals lose steam.

Considering its wild, witty beginnings, it's rather disappointing to watch cliches take hold after the truth about one's adultery, another's parentage come to light.

Previously peripheral characters drop their act of mystery and unconvincingly jump into the centre of the storm.

Amidst these overwrought workings, an unexpected glimpse of warmth is discovered in the complicated father-daughter bonds of an excellent Sayaji Shinde and fiery Anula Navlekar.

Where some subplots take by surprise, some do not achieve the intended realisation. Like Nassar's determined policeman on the verge of retirement, taking his dead colleague's lead doesn't quite become an epiphany. Truth be told, most characters are plain garnish in this two ingredient dish.

There is no secret recipe.

Both Manoj Bajpayee and Konkona Sensharma are recognised for their perceptive range and artistic sensibilities.

Though Killer Soup is their first collaboration, theirs comes across as a long-time association of true partners-in-crime speaking the same language of creativity.

Always a force to reckon with, Konkona grasps onto the psyche of Swathi's rising aspirations and fading moral compass. From her perspective, she is not as bad as her circumstances make her out to be. What makes her truly chilling is her comfort in this delusion.

Manoj achieves a multiverse in a single character. Alternating between what is, what was and what could have been, he grows insights that may not exonerate him in the eyes of the law but render sympathetic before the audience.

Bajpayee turns deceptively simple lines into profound words of wisdom: 'Main soya nahi hoon bas aankh lag gayi thi thodi/Laath kha kha ke aadmi kutta ban jaata hai' -- proving he is as much a victim as he is an accomplice in the crimes carried out in the name of love.

But is food for thought alone enough to satiate the soul?

Killing Soup streams on Netflix.

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