Paurashpur premiered on 29th December 2020 on Alt Balaji. The series was earlier scheduled for a release on 15th December 2020 on the streaming platform but was later postponed for reasons unknown. Directed by Shachindra Vats, the 7-episode-long series stars Annu Kapoor, Shilpa Shinde, Milind Soman, Shaheer Shaikh, Sahil Salathia, Poulomi Das, Anantvijay Joshi, Kashish Rai, Aditya Lal, Flora Saini, and Ashmita Bakshi alongside other cast members.
The City Of Paurashpur
What do you do with a great and power-packed cast, beautiful location, and a good script? Add unnecessary sex scenes and rush the entire series and end it in 7 episodes of about 20 minutes each and additionally, end it on a cliffhanger. Sound wrong, right? But somehow this is exactly what this period drama does. It sucks.
The storyline here is simple and bland to a certain extend but still had the calibre of being strong and fierce but that’s not what we’re doing here. Set in the 16th century, the city of Paurashpur, a patriarchal city where the king, Bhadrapratap (Annu Kapoor), is a sex-addict and marries new women every now and then, but whenever he marries again his recent queen goes missing. So, at the very start of the series we see 4 photos hung on the wall labelled as Maharani (Queen) and these are all those who went missing! Hmm…
Further on, we see Bhadrapratap’s favourite wife Meeravati (Shilpa Shinde) who is still alive and fetches new brides for the king and in return, she keeps her power as the top-most queen alive in Paurashpur. Then there’s Boris (Milind Soman) who is non-binary and hates the king and somehow, the king is also scared of him (just because he is gender non-conforming, maybe). The story continues as the king keeps up his pervy acts and his own people plot against him and this is the storyline we further chase as the series progresses.
Here’s the thing, I liked the storyline when I saw the trailer. It intrigued me. But when I saw Paurashpur I was equally disappointed. There is no character depth here, the dialogues are bland and it seems as if someone slept while writing them! It is oftentimes non-sequenced and it demolishes the entire idea of gender stereotypes, dynamics, women oppression, and more such important things never reach the audience! Women in Paurashpur have to wear yoni-bandhak (vagina locks), they are hanged and killed for the smallest of things, they are not allowed the basics of living but why would the makers pay any attention to that?
I appreciate how they tried to validate the love and relationship of all sorts but in the wider scheme of the series, it is useless. The erotic scenes are cringy and forgettable and just don’t watch it around anyone! The series is hot only because of the countless number of candles and fire spots in it. Otherwise, it is as cold and unsettling as the Arctic wind, People here die way too quickly but it’s ok as you never empathize with them due to the lack of character depth.
Annu Kapoor as Raja Bhadrapratap is good and justifies his part as a cruel, merciless king but with the script and idea, his talents fail. You can watch him in Suraj pe Mangal Bhari instead, at least there you will laugh a little! In a particular scene here, King Bhadrapratap talks to his pe*is and it is as embarrassing as it gets and he even sexually abuses women. To see a senior, respectable, and talented actor play such a role is downright bad. Who even thought of it?
Shilpa Shinde as Queen Meeravati is not-convincing at all. As a queen who is plotting almost her every move and action, you would want her to be cunning and sharp but well, no! There is blandness in her expressions and dialogues. It is almost like she does not know what is she doing there exactly – whether she’s supposed to be guilty or cunning. And she looks like she is toggling between the two throughout.
Milind Soman as Boris is graceful here and he is the only character I’ll take with myself from this lacklustre series. He plays the role of a gender non-conforming individual and he gives his role everything and every emotion he possibly could. He is strong, emotional, fierce, hurt, and everything you could have wanted from his character. Soman saves the day for Paurashpur.
Poulomi Polo Das as Kala and Kashish Rai as Kusumlata play their parts as convincingly as they could and should be appreciated for playing the role of 2 bold and strong women who suffer at the hands of patriarchy.
Other than them – Ashmita Bakshi as Umanglata, Aditya Lal as Ranveer, Anant Joshi as Prince Aditya, Sahil Salathia as Nrityaguru Bhanu, Shaheer Sheik as Veer Singh, and Malhar Pandya as Chandrasen play their parts nicely but while some of them die too soon and in an unnecessary scenario, they try their best to add weight to the feeble storyline in Paurashpur.
Stream It or Skip It
SKIP IT! As much as I didn’t want to say this, the writer and directors of Paurashpur leave me with no other choice. There is no redeeming quality in this series and it is safe to say that it is tone-deaf as well. I wish the makers would have paid more attention to the power-dynamics and uprising of women rather than the erotic scenes. I liked the background scores here as they were classical and good but nothing more than that. The series gets 1.5 stars due to its beautiful set-design and the small bits of fair acting here and there.
Paurashpur is now streaming on Alt Balaji.
Read our other reviews here.