‘In The Name Of God’, the Telugu-language web series, is currently streaming on Aha. Here is our review of the latest OTT release.
Aadhi (Priyadarshi) is a cabbie-cum-tourist guide who gets embroiled in a crime that is not of his making. Ayyappa (Posani Krishna Murali), a maker of soft porn movies, gets murdered and a series of unexpected events ensue. Ayyappa’s wife Meena (Nandini Rai) and her boyfriend Thomas (Vikas) conspire together to frame Aadhi.
Five crore rupees are at stake and Vishnu (Chandrakanth Dutta), Fakir (Uma Maheswar Rao) and Rossie (Mohammad Ali Baig), too, have a stake in it. Will Aadhi be able to find redemption? Who gets to lay their hands on the bounty? Answers to these questions are found as the seven-episode series progresses.
‘ING’ belongs to Priyardarshi and Vikas, both of whom deliver solid performances. Much as he has been typecast in comedy roles, Priyadarshi manages to outgrow the ‘Jathi Ratnam’ in him. He looks serious throughout and plays a character with grey shades with conviction. Vikas gets significant space in the story as the series advances. In the role of an unscrupulous son and a reckless ganja-seller with evil motives, he is truly convincing.
Nandini Rai is watchable, while the rest of the cast barely makes an impression.
Deepak Alexandar’s background music passes muster. While the genre lets the composer be inventive, he keeps the BGM minimal. The montage songs are inspired. Varun DK’s cinematography could have been better even if you discount the fact that ‘ING’ is a moderately-budgeted web show. Vijaythenarasu and Subhash don’t show much imagination in terms of art direction.
Written and directed by Vidyasagar Muthukumar, ‘ING’ has been produced by Suresh Krissna (the star director of the 1990s). Considering the philosophical ring to the title, one had expected the series to be profound. What it turns out to be is a contrived crime thriller where a set of characters keep running from the consequences of their actions, or plot to strike rich at someone’s expense.
The first episode establishes the characters without much fuss. Posani is his usual quirky and unabashed self as the maker of blue films. Nandini Rai brazens it out as a disloyal wife who doesn’t mind crossing the Rubicon if it offers her salvation. She doesn’t pause to reflect on her radical actions, which she doesn’t always pull off impulsively.
On the other hand, Priyadarshi’s Aadhi is somewhat thoughtless at times and smart at others. He is street-smart and wants to own a resort someday. But his dreams are shattered in no time, and even when danger lurks around the corner, he is prone to inflict wounds on himself. His father had deserted him and is back with a terminal illness. And, in step with the dark world he inhabits, Aadhi is delighted that his loveless father is dying.
The characters live dangerously and are prolific when it comes to using cuss words. ‘Boothulu’ are littered throughout the length of the series. Ironically, the title hints at godliness. The OTT audience loves ironies. ‘The Family Man’ was not a Victory Venkatesh family entertainer and they didn’t complain, you see!
‘ING’ would have made for an engaging watch had it not been bloated. Fakir, Vishnu and Rossie bring in their wake too many kerfuffles and physical attacks in association with other characters. You have to keep searching for a character who is not mercurial. The artificiality of the proceedings gets on your nerves after a point.
Most of the episodes are upwards of 35 minutes, with one of them having a run time of 47 minutes. A fluffy series like this one can’t be binge-watched for good.
‘In The Name Of God’ is overlong and contrived. The crime story cries for an organic plot. The performances save the day, though!