’11th Hour’ is the latest Telugu-language web series in the town. Streaming on OTT, it was commissioned by Aha and produced by Pradeep U, who is also its story-writer. In this section, we are going to review the 8-episode series.
The web series, which is an adaptation of Upendra Namburi’s novel ‘8 Hours’, is about what Tamannaah Bhatia’s Aratrika Reddy does to save her corporate company from being acquired by a set of people who want to finish her career in a span of 8 hours.
Among her enemies is Rajyavardhan Rathore (Shatru, a rich and ruthless businessman), a Dubai-based businessman, a Bank chairman (Srikanth Iyengar), etc.
Tamannaah Bhatia’s barely watchable performance makes us wonder if she should have been more serious in the most nerve-wracking phase of her character’s life. As against her not-so-satisfying performance, the actors around her do a fine job. Shatru and Jayaprakash are remarkable, with them being subtle. The latter, who has played a number of routine roles in films like ‘Sarrainodu’, is nuanced here.
Madhusudhan Reddy, as Tamannaah’s father, is just about okay. Vamshi Krishna is the protagonist’s estranged ex-husband and he is better than in ‘Vakeel Saab’. Adith Arun of ‘PSV Garuda Vega’ fame is so-so. Priyanka Banerjee, as a waitress with a stilted and ominous expression, fits the bill. Pavithra Lokesh and others are good. Srikanth Iyengar is over-the-top.
Bharatt and Saurabh, who have made a debut in Telugu, give befitting BGM. Mukesh G, the web series’ director of photography, captures the limited landscape (most of the drama is set indoors, in a star hotel) with imagination. Dharmendra Kakarla’s editing could have been better. Avinash Kolla, who has done production design for a number of big-ticket feature films, leaves an impact.
Most of the web series are crime/investigative/mystery thrillers. For a change,’11th Hour’ picks a different sub-genre. On the face of it, its premise is not only strong but also potentially political. There is the element of powers-that-be wanting to push Tamannaah’s company into the abyss. There is a CBI officer who has his own game plan. There is an abduction. There is a lot more in the drama.
Director Praveen Sattaru makes an underwhelming digital debut despite the strong base. In a rare instance, he works on a story written by someone else. Some of the names have been retained from the novel. From power brokers to shady middlemen and Ministers angling for kickbacks, there are a lot of exciting elements in the story. In the end, what we get is a simplistic finish, where exaggeration is used to scaremonger a powerful politician to take a decision. It’s all convenient.
Tamannaah’s performance is not helped by Veena Ghantasala’s dubbing. The night seems to never end, and it’s not because the series goes into the past at the start of most of the episodes.
Many of the lines are too literary. And with very many characters vying for a space in the story, the viewer is left scrambling to keep a track of them, their motivations and their backstories. We know so many people see Aratrika Reddy as their arch-enemy. But how on earth does she not have well-wishers? After all, she leads a vast corporate empire. It may have fallen into indebtedness but it doesn’t mean she should have no resources apart from a Dubai-based mentor who conveniently breathes his last when she most needs him.
Praveen Sattaru should have cut the clutter to make ’11th Hour’ easy on the mind.
’11th Hour’ is a conveniently-written corporate thriller. Watch it for the performances and the premise. Technically, it’s a good product. But the writing is lazy and forgettable.