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PI Meena Review: Too Much Chaos

November 03, 2023 13:28 IST
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Tanya Maniktala is more an annoying busybody than woman on a mission, complains Deepa Gahlot.

A Tamilian private detective, Meenakshi Iyer, lives and works in Kolkata: The latter detail has no bearing on the Web series, PI Meena, named after her, except perhaps to establish that the city is now more cosmopolitan than it used to be.

Created by Arindam Sinha and directed by Debaloy Bhattacharya, the show revolves around a virus. Strangely, there is no mention or memory of COVID-19 so soon after the pandemic.

In fact, till Ms Meena (Tanya Maniktala) blows a few gaskets, nobody seems to take a few random human deaths and several dead pigs seriously.

She erroneously believes private investigation is illegal in India, calls herself 'Security Consultant' but does the job, with much internal grumbling because, in keeping with the long tradition of fictional detectives, Meena is alone, angry, guilty and disturbed.

No idea how or why she started working as a PI with Sundial Securities.

An accident left her brother Joy in a coma, and she addresses all her angst to him. She works the usual unfaithful spouse/rotten fiance kind of cases for her overwrought boss, Pritam Sen (Harsh Chhaya), who runs a swanky office and has access to high levels of power! A bit too much for a garden variety snoop.


When Meena witnesses a bike-rider being knocked down by a truck, it does not occur to the hotshot PI to take a picture of the departing truck. Instead, she shouts 'Help!'

She does take the wounded Partho Dey (Sawon Chakrobarty) to a hospital and give a statement to the cops. The case would have been dismissed as a hit-and-run, but for Partho's mother (Zarina Wahab) telling Meena she believes her son was murdered but nobody is willing to help.

Ignoring warnings not to get involved, she does, of course, and starts digging in.

Her investigation takes her to Littnong, a village in the North East, where Partho was headed to meet Dr Andre Rakhaw (Jisshu Sengupta).

There was a virus outbreak there, any news of which was quickly buried by a sinister, pony-tailed man, Tridib Malhotra (Vipin Sharma, also one of the co-writers of the show), who is supposed to be from Indian Intelligence.

Meena did not know Partho, but after his mother commits suicide, she makes it a personal mission to find his killers, even if it leads to her being shot at.

Subho Roy (Parambrata Chatterjee) is her partner-in-crime and possible romantic interest -- at least he turns up when she calls. On his own time, he trawls the Dark Net, and hopes to get into politics for whichever party will have him.

Once Meena enters the maze, things, as she puts it, get 'twisted' and also needlessly complicated, with back stories, conspiracies, cover-ups and international intrigue.

The show that set up its premise well and kept up viewer interest up to a point, starts losing the plot, with Joy's journalist girlfriend Annie (Ritwika Pal), virologists (Vinay Pathak, Samir Soni), bureaucrats, ministers, skeletons from old closets and a whole crowd jumping into the fray.

Subho wanders in his own circle of politicians, rebels (not clear who) and a union leader buddy; like a good Bengali, he drops words like 'disruption' and 'anarchy'.

Tanya Maniktala can't seem to get the hang of how to approach Meenakshi Iyer. In spite of her being everywhere all at once, she is more an annoying busybody than woman on a mission.

She has an attractive screen presence, however, even though she is given a wardrobe that inexplicably comprises grubby checked shirts over tube tops to noodle-strap blouses, paired with jeggings.

The one having the most fun is Parambrata Chatterjee, who is the cool comic relief to the always volatile Meena, who looks like she will have smoke coming out her ears any moment.

Too many well-known names in the cast with too little to do and some characters dispatched just when they were making sense.

By the time the eighth episode arrives and the chaos is at fever pitch, it looks like threads are left hanging for a second season. There is, undoubtedly, a good twist that would perhaps justify further adventures of PI Meena.

PI Meena streams on Amazon Prime Video.

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