First publised on 2020-06-25 13:04:34
The latest bi-lingual (Hindi/Bengali) offering from Zee 5, Lalbazaar is a crime drama that seems like a mash-up of episodes from crime shows like CID, Crime Patrol and Savdhan India. But the main story here is about the corruption and infighting within the police force and the pressure that mounts on the higher officials when officers below them are not on the same page and try to undercut each other. From the time the opening scenes show the main crime and the subsequent episodes show how the perpetrators try to destroy evidence and manipulate the investigation, the series becomes engrossing. Although it is nowhere near the scorching standards set by other recent crime shows like The Family Man or Paatal Lok, it manages to hold the viewer attention mainly because it does not lag and the personal stories of officers of the homicide department of Kolkata Police headquarters at Lalbazar are expertly woven in.
A prostitute from the Watgunj area is murdered while having sex with a client as she tells him that she is pregnant and the child is his. The body is found hanging the next day to show that the woman committed suicide. Thereafter, it is a wild goose chase as the doctor who conducts the postmortem changes his statement about the murder, the body goes missing and mysterious characters prop up to kill witnesses. The needle of suspicion points at the local gang lord but things are not as simple as they seem. The Watgunj police station officer-in-charge is a newbie and he has to contend with a street smart junior and a devious senior officer who tries to lead him down the wrong path. The officer-in-charge of the homicide department (Kaushik Sen doing his act brilliantly despite the heavily accented Hindi) at the headquarters has a ghost from the past and is shown running a network of informers who do his bidding. The suspense builds up as his informers do certain acts that seem at odds with the ongoing investigation in the murder of the prostitute. His girlfriend (played by Hrishitaa Bhatt) is a TV reporter with a past of her own and is spying on him for someone called RS whose identity is a mystery.
In between, there are other murders which the officers of the homicide department at the headquarters keep solving. But the running thread is the murder of the prostitute and the suspense of who is behind it. As the team solves the cases that come its way, the story weaves in the happenings in their lives. A senior officer is shown having to care for his sister who is suffering from trauma as she was subjected to abuse from a gangster. He moans that he could not do anything to punish the perpetrator despite being in the police force. Another officer is there to provide comic relief with his antics but some moments from his intimate life with his wife are excellent. The budding romance between the female (Sauraseni Maitra in a role where she gets to show her mettle) officer and a fresh recruit is also handled well. Child exploitation rackets and a man who keeps his dead mother's body are cases that are from recent happenings in Kolkata while there is a story about a serial killer who targets gays. The climax disappoints as it happens too fast. The ending leaves the series open for a second season.