Dhootha Review: When it comes to web series, what annoys you the most? For me, it's investing eight hours or more in a series that promises a lot in the beginning but turns out to be disappointing in the end. Do you see where I'm going with this review? Dhootha, directed by Vikram Kumar (who directed my favorite Suriya movie, 24), starts off well and maintains intrigue until the middle before taking a turn towards the predictable and then spiraling downward. Sigh... Dhootha OTT Release: Here's When and Where To Watch Naga Chaitanya’s Debut Thriller Web Series Online.
Dhootha begins with Naga Chaitanya's character contemplating suicide by taking sleeping pills, but he discovers something that makes him regret his decision. The series then takes us a few days back, revealing him as Sagar Varma, a successful journalist about to start his own newspaper. He is happily married to Priya (Priya Bhavani Shanker), with a daughter and another child on the way. However, something strange starts to disrupt Sagar's personal and professional life.
He receives mysterious newspaper clippings predicting tragic events in his life that turns out to be true, starting with the accidental death of a dog. As Sagar grapples with this mysterious predicament, only his personal assistant and confidante, Amrutha (Prachi Desai), knows what's happening in the beginning. The first episode ends with him witnessing a colleague's suicide, revealing that even the deceased man was haunted by these newspaper prophecies.
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The initial mystery set up by Vikram Kumar and his team is captivating. There's suspense about whether what's happening to Sagar is the result of someone vengeful or something supernatural. Despite the increasing evidence of paranormal occurrences, Dhootha keeps the audience guessing for a while. The introduction of Amruta (Parvathy Thiruvothu), a brilliant cop investigating the suicide, adds another layer of intrigue.
However, Dhootha then goes overboard with its twists and characterisation. It's established in the first episode that Sagar is a morally ambiguous character, but the series attempts to make him even more villainous like giving him an extramarital affair, a predictable development that I thought could have happen and hoped it wouldn't (alas!). Unfortunately, the series fails to provide any foreshadowing of this twist in the previous episodes, and then opting for a needless flashback to explain this twist, when a sentence or two could have sufficed. Even more baffling is Sagar's disdainful reaction to the news, which is inconsistent with his previously established cunning and calculated persona, creating forced tension. For someone as shrewd as him, he should have known better than putting down one woman so badly who could topple his entire life with one confession (which she does in a very icky manner).
Even worse, the character involved in the affair gets sidelined for the rest of the series, resurfacing sporadically for vengeance. Her history as a victim of domestic abuse, sadly, becomes a catalyst for a convoluted struggle scene in the climax.
This is just one example of the issues caused by Dhootha's overzealous storytelling, that gets worse especially after the big reveal of the mystery. An entire episode is dedicated to a stretched and pretty ordinary flashback that serves as the origin of Sagar's troubles. This subplot, involving more murders and a setup of a revenge plot, has nothing novel to show and kills the pace of the series (that was very much engaging, despite its flaws). In fact, when I think about it, Dhootha's entire premise is similar to some popular supernatural thrillers from South cinema, notably U-Turn, starring Samantha Ruth Prabhu, who was once married to the lead actor of this show.
Anyway, once the overdrawn flashback concludes, Dhootha struggles to regain momentum. With the mystery clarified and the obvious revealed, connecting the dots becomes easier for us than for Kranti, who must now figure out what the audience already knows. From a mystery about a curse attacking corrupt journalists, the series transforms into a paranormal revenge thriller where all important characters are connected to the past incident. So then why kill all the other people in the past who has nothing to do with the flashback, instead of attacking those directly responsible to it? Considering it is established that the entity has the same powers as Death from Final Destination franchise and can reach anyone, anywhere, but is also shown belonging to a very scrupulous person. You see, this is what happens when your writing writes itself into a corner when trying to go all ways bonkers. Shehar Lakhot Review: Priyanshu Painyuli's Crime Thriller Is Too Cliched To Be Exciting.
All these elements contribute to a stretched finale that melodramatically concludes Sagar's curse to protect his family, though neither the character nor the people he is protecting were particularly empathetic enough for me to root for. Self-preservation is not a redeeming quality, bro.
As the flawed lead, Naga Chaitanya delivers an okay performance. While he has the screen presence to command a scene, he struggles to bring the gravitas to convey emotional conflict or distress that some of the more dramatic scenes demand. Parvathy's performance as the cop with Sherlock-like intelligence is commendable, and the scenes where she uses her deductive skills are engaging. It makes one wish Dhootha took a Fargo-like approach, with her character chasing a cunning criminal like Sagar using her intelligence. Surely, it would have made for a better series than the supernatural mumbo-jumbo Dhootha turns out to be in the end.
All said and done, I won't say I was bored by Dhootha. The show has a very captivating mystery that is bound to leave you invested. Even though the flashback episode sucked, and the show took a major dip after that, it remains cheesy and pulpy enough to trap me into seeing how it would all end. Even with those flaws, Dhootha could have worked better in impact, had it also reigned in its runtime. Eight episodes is just too much when it should have wrapped up one episode earlier right after that flashback.
PS: Who the f**k was that mysterious biker in the yellow raincoat whom Sagar keeps seeing at the crime scenes? Did I miss out on this reveal while getting numb from the show's overstacking of secrets?
Dhootha starts with promise, weaving a web of intrigue, mystery, and gnarly murders. However, as the series unfolds, it succumbs to overwrought twists, contrived writing, and bloated runtime. Dhootha is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Dec 01, 2023 07:22 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).