Boman Irani makes his OTT debut with Masoom, and it was good to see the actor on screen after a long time, observes Deepa Gahlot.
The Web series Blood, created by Sophie Petzal, set in lush Ireland, hiding family dysfunction, poetic gloom and Catholic guilt is transported, somewhat uneasily to a sunny Falauli village in Punjab, where Dr Balraj Kapoor (Boman Irani) lives with his bed-ridden wife and three unhappy children.
Sana (Samara Tijori), the one who escaped to Delhi, returns when her mother Gunwant (Upasana Singh) dies.
Sana had witnessed something in the past, for which she holds her father responsible, and years later, wears a permanent sullen expression.
Her older sister Sanjana (Manjari Fadnnis) is separated from her husband and living at her parents' house, also looks stricken all the time.
Their brother Sanjeev (Veer Rajwant Singh) looks shifty, like he has a secret, which, of course, he does.
Sana is convinced that her father is responsible for her mother's death, and starts skulking around spying on him.
His suspicious behavior -- lying about where he was when his wife died, carrying on an affair with a nurse at his hospital (Sarika Singh), and sneaking off late at night to dispose of a lawn decoration -- confirms her fears.
Balraj is standing for elections from the constituency, and has been given a large sum of money by the party, which was stolen at the time of Gunwant's death, leading to severe financial problems for the doctor, which he conceals from the family.
The six-part series, written by Satyam Tripathy and directed by Mihir Desai, starts slow.
For a thriller in which there is nobody for whom the viewer can root for, it has too many longeurs -- characters driving from place to place, the mother constantly singing or reciting poetry (written by Ginny Diwan) in Punjabi, which necessitates subtitles in Hindi, along with the English; in spite of living in a large mansion with a huge lawn, for heart-to-heart chats, people meet by the banks of a canal!
It's only in the fourth episode that the various strands start coming together, and the motivations of the various characters get clearer.
For no reason, a wicked uncle is introduced, who, it is hinted, may have abused Sana as a child.
But that thread is left dangling, perhaps to be picked up in Season 2, which must be on the way, going by the ending of this one.
Sana reaches out to a childhood friend Monty (Akashdeep Arora), and ends up throwing more fuel into an already simmering fire.
Balraj, played with a weary gentleness by Boman Irani, does not appear to be the kind of overbearing north Indian patriarch, who invites so much hate from Sana, that she does not hesitate to indirectly accuse him in public at her mother's funeral.
Small towns in India -- like anywhere else -- can be a hothouse of suppressed secrets and intrigue, but also of strong clan loyalties and an everyone-knows-everyone atmosphere.
The local cop, a genial Ranjit Singh (Manu Rishi Chadha), knows more than he lets on, and acts only when pushed to limits of his patience.
It's not quite clear who is Masoom (Innocent) in this story -- Sana, who is so self-involved that she cannot understand the trauma of others; Balraj, who, in trying to protect his family causes more harm than good; or the departed Gunwant, who understood everything, but let it slide, to maintain peace in the household.
What the series does accomplish is a non-stereotypical look at a Punjab village, enhanced by lovely exteriors (shot by Vivek Shah) and moody music (Anand Bhaskar).
The performances are one-note ,but in a story where everybody has something to hide, it seems to work.
Boman Irani makes his OTT debut with Masoom, and it was good to see the actor on screen after a long time.
Masoom is streaming on Disney + Hotstar.