By Linus Garg
First publised on 2021-06-26 14:50:43
Grahan (now streaming on Disney+Hotstar) is a powerful and impactful depiction of the situation in Bokaro during the anti-Sikh riots that followed Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984. Based on Satya Vyas' novel Chaurasi, two stories run in tandem in a non-linear narrative (so popular with directors of web series but sometimes very annoying although not so here) linked by a common thread which is the truth the protagonist Amrita Singh - an upright police officer in Jharkhand Police - is searching for. In the first story, Amrita is fed up of the system and wants to resign when she is appointed as the head of the SIT to probe the riots in Bokaro in 1984. In the second, a young couple - the girl is Sikh and the boy is Hindu - falls in love in the Bokaro of 1984, oblivious of the hate that is building up due to the violence in Punjab. But when Amrita discovers that the person who led the rioters on that fateful night was none other than her father (or is he actually her father?), her world comes crashing down. She has to deal with too many lies and half-truths.
Although Amrita digs deep to find the truth, she has to fight against the system at each step. The DIG is more interested in being in the good books of his political masters and cares nothing about the truth. The politicians have their own axes to grind and both the chief minister and the opposition leader have a past that is linked to the riots in Bokaro. Although it seems that the chief minister wants the truth to come out and the opposition leader punished for his role in the riots, things are more complicated than they seem. Meanwhile, Amrita's father Gursevak Singh (aka Rishi Ranjan of 1984) surrenders and takes the entire blame for the riots on himself as the opposition leader threatens him that he will finish his daughter's career if Gursevak takes his name. But as he is about to be sentenced, a last minute witness appears and sheds light on what actually happened that day.
Although the series indulges in some preaching that was quite unnecessary (although the one scene where an elderly man refuses to accept a glass of water from a 'lower' caste police officer was excellent in showing deep-rooted biases in society) as it had an impactful story at the core, it leaves a deep impression on the viewers. This is mainly because of the powerful story and the wonderful acting by all the main actors. Pawan Malhotra as Gursevak Singh is awesome and shows the remorse borne out of guilt to perfection. Zoya Hussain as Amrita is a bundle of talent as she displays the full range of emotions that her character of a stern policewoman and a doting daughter, and later a devastated one, demands. Ayushman Pushkar as the younger Gursevak, or Rishi Ranjan as he was then known, plays the part of the lover and rioter with equal ease and leaves a huge impact. So does Waqima Gabbi as his lady love Manu. All the other actors are competent and make Grahan a good watch. A special mention for the wonderful songs played in the background and the way the series has been shot.