Web Series ‘Hush Hush’: A Promising Plot Peters Out to a Morbid Melodrama!


The Web Series Hush Hush Season 1 started streaming on Prime Video from the 22nd of September 2022. It has at least three very important reasons for being watched eagerly by a lot of viewers. First, filmmaker Tanuja Chandra whose intense flick Dushman (1998) is still remembered by movie fans features as one of the directors and producers in a clearly women-oriented story with mostly women in the crew too. Second, the cast is tremendously interesting and exciting with two of the most beloved babes of Bollywood since the eighties Juhi Chawla and Ayesha Jhulka coming back/appearing on the OTT Platform for the first time, and joined by the immensely talented Soha Ali Khan, Shahana Goswami, Kritika Kamra and Karishma Tanna. Third, the story begins on a very taut and promising note, seemingly doing justice for a mature series in the Suspense genre. But unfortunately, that lasts only till the third episode, and then, rather inexplicably, the storytelling breaks up and meanders to a morbid melodrama with all the focus on domestic affairs while we ardently expected it to roar to a shattering climax.


The story basically consists of four close friends—Juhi as Ishi, Soha as Saiba, Shahana as Zaira and Kritika as Dolly. While Saiba has an established family with husband and two kids Dolly is into a three-year-old unhappy marriage and the other two are supposed spinsters with Shahana having suffered a breakup previously. The story opens in Kolkata in 1978 establishing Ishi as an orphan having a close sister-like ties with the younger Meera (played by Ayesha in the older role) who is among others in the same orphanage. Then, the story cuts to 2019 in extremely posh environs in Gurgaon or Gurugram in Haryana showing Ishi as a high-end mover & shaker, the role almost inspired by the controversial real-life Niira Radia, and a huge scandal just breaking out in the media involving Ishi. Meera reappears much later in the plot. As per the time-period Ishi should be in her late forties, Saiba and Shahana possibly in early forties with only Dolly most probably in the late twenties.

 

The overwhelmingly female-cast is joined by Karishma as the tough cop Geeta who starts her investigation in a very promising note too as the four friends land up in a shady mess with Ishi dying a violent death the same night when the anniversary party of Dolly’s parents-in-law was going on. The plot moves intriguingly till the third episode and then, as we mentioned earlier, it falls flat. Instead of going into the detailed storyline that could possibly lead to spoilers we’ll just point out the main disappointments that mar the suspense elements that could have been built up in a telling manner.

 

·       The biggest disappointment is with Juhi Chawla’s comeback to the OTT. She dies in the very first episode and then appears only momentarily in various flashbacks or revelations. She apparently has no solid stuff to prove her towering performance-related abilities, because the makers do not allow her or us to know how she moved up in her career as the most upmarket influencer Ishi and what had been the pros and cons in her success ride. The only point of reference as regards flashback is the consistent ‘five years ago’ which does not help anyone—performing or viewing.

·       The ‘five years ago’ reference also applies to Ishi’s extremely close three friends and we hardly know anything about how their friendship started and grew and bloomed over time. Matters are not helped at all by the age-differences that we pointed out going by the time-period revealed in the story between the four fast friends.

·       Karishma Tanna as the tough cop Geeta hardly does anything that proves her ‘toughness’ and never tries to go deeper into the shady affairs of a violent death, a missing person and the three clearly nervous friends. No doubt, she must’ve been hampered in her investigations by her obstinately unreasonable, unnecessarily foul-mouthed and apparently ignoramus lady boss ACP Madhu played by Vibha Chhibber. While we kept on expecting Geeta to excel as an honest and bold cop she gets more and more into a frame of mind to let go of the three ‘implicated’ friends, perhaps a tad more ardently than the writers-directors who’d really want to protect them for future use, and in the supposedly climaxing seventh episode we get treated only with Geeta’s lesbian leanings.

·       Of course, being an out and out women-oriented story, the male characters have to be sketchy at best. However, it does create more roadblocks for the storytelling, because the seemingly important husbands of Saiba and Dolly and the photographer-friend of Shahana have been rendered clueless about what to do and how effectively to contribute toward the story.

·       The reappearance of Meera in later episodes only adds to the melodrama rather than building up the tension. Anyhow, Ayesha Jhulka is able to do some justice to the insufficient role give to her.

·       Finally, the makers of the web series Hush Hush should essentially have done much more to present a mature suspense series than indulging in endless hugging cum teary-emotional outbursts cum domestic-affair scenes of the most upmarket kind between the three friends in the glaringly disappointing last four episodes of the Series.

 


Hush Hush fails to live up to the suspense genre primarily because of not being able to give enough meat to the star performers and of trying to cover the whole matrix of the degenerating system of powerplay, corruption, criminality and human trafficking clearly prevailing in the society, as per the story of course. Perhaps, this is being done to have more Seasons in the coming months. This suspicion gets more emboldened by the ominous dialogues between the main villain (gets revealed much before the supposed climax) and the main associate in the last minutes leading to two more murders which are promptly taken up by the CBI as indicated earlier by Geeta’s abusive cop boss instead of the investigating police team. Well, we definitely expect more maturity and magic touches from Tanuja Chandra in the coming seasons, if indeed.

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