Grahan is a political-drama series created by Shailendra Jha, directed by Ranjan Chandel and starring Wamiqa Gabbi, Pawan Malhotra, Anshuman Pushkar and Zoya Hussain.
Disney+ Hotstar’s latest Special, Grahan, packs a lot of emotions into its 8-hour long runtime. The series is split in two – the 1984 anti-Sikh riot, mostly a love story at that time, and 2016 on IPS Amrita Singh. The murder of an honest journalist who might have uncovered something important prompts Amrita to take matters into her own hands and uncover the truth.
Jumping between timelines isn’t something that is new in media these days; actually, some might say that that is the norm. However, creating an air-tight environment using such a non-linear format is the tricky part. And Grahan does that well. Most of the time, you are well-aware of where you are in time, and the stories are separate yet so intimately connected.
Coming to the story itself, Grahan does itself a favour and packs in a lot of emotions as well as high-strung tension. For what it’s worth, you will be interested to keep watching the series and I am basing this on how much I liked the feisty IPS officer who wants to do good work. I liked her character the most, she makes for a good protagonist to follow. I also liked how the series touched on casteism, sexism and other important matters that impact our everyday lives.
However, that being said, I think Grahan milks its story a bit too much. If you put stories like these in front of Indian audiences, they are sure to feel strong emotions. That is evident from the fact that a faction of the society had already called for a release ban. It goes to show that if you put stories like these anywhere, it’s going to sell.
In spite of this though, Grahan misses out on providing the audience subtlety when it comes to storytelling. There is nothing for the audience to figure out; everything that you could’ve imagined is already there in front of you. The creators could’ve utilised the subtlety aspect and kept the audiences guessing, as well as shortened the runtime. However, all of that goes out the window.
Additionally, the series, in spite of having such a good premise, could’ve really benefitted from exploring why common people place themselves in such situations and how religion gets us so worked up. Initially, I was interested to see what could’ve happened with Rishi being egged by Chunnu, who made him the leader of a night of blood-thirsty rampage. However, Grahan doesn’t really explore that area much. It’s a missed opportunity.
The flashbacks sometimes feel a little rushed and there’s something very wrong with the dubbing. Grahan is a little pretentious at times as well. There are scenes that look and feel so dramatic and out of place that it feels difficult to correlate to the good parts. You’re left to wonder how that became this.
Coming to the performances, they are decent. Wamiqa Gabbi, Pawan Malhotra, Anshuman Pushkar are all good. I think Malhotra is underutilised though and is used only as a prop in this otherwise average series. Zoya Hussain is good, although I liked her character more than her performance; it’s sometimes very dicey and looks out of place.
Summing up: Grahan
If you’re confused as to what to think reading this Grahan review, don’t worry, I am as confused as you are. There are moments that are great and really touch your soul but there are other moments that feel disjointed, over the top and just too superficial to make you connect with them. It’s a shame because this political drama could’ve done wonderful things. Instead, we’re left with a pretty mediocre tale that doesn’t stay with us after it’s done.
Grahan is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.