CAT is routine crime thriller

Randeep Hooda plays the title-role in the thriller series, CAT. Photo: Netflix

As the usual saga of crime, smutty politics, drugs et al in post-1984 Punjab, CAT is no different from the other stories in this genre that we keep seeing ad infinitum, especially on the web.

The problem with CAT is primarily its length. All the eight episodes are around or over 40 minutes long, which could have been crisply reduced to 25 or 30 minutes. More, the multiple flashbacks about multiple characters only serve as speed-breakers, many irritating in the way they come in. Some of these are even repetitious, merely unfolding greater details of the same sequence so that more twists can be there in the convoluted narrative.

The story also takes a couple of episodes to get really going, and things also become too gory for family viewing with several brutal murders. Some sub-plots are dealt with incompletely, like the angle of sub-inspector Babita (Hasleen Kaur)’s husband, who just comes in for one scene, or that of pop singer Rocky Ranjha (Eklavey Kashyap), who vamooses as soon as his shocking origin is discovered.

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Basically, the film deals with Gary a.k.a. Gurnam Singh (Abhishant Rana as adolescent and Randeep Hooda as adult), who avenges his father’s murder by the latter’s brother. A cop, Sehmat Singh (Suvinder Vickey), comes to Gurnam’s aid and makes sure that his two siblings and he live safely somewhere else. Gurnam now is a mechanic and is bent on sending his brother Sunny (Danish Sood) to Canada, as per the youngster’s dream. Their sister (not shown in the series as adult) also lives there after marriage.

To Gurnam’s consternation, Sunny is arrested for trying to sell drugs—an all-pervading menace in that state—and the distraught elder brother approaches Sehmat, now a police bigwig, to somehow free him. For the second time, Sehmat helps Gurnam, but now he strikes a deal—Gurnam must help him bust the drug cartel headed by politician Madam Aulakh (Geeta Agrawal), who is standing for elections.

How? Gurnam must become a CAT. Now, what is that?

In drug- and terrorism-ravaged Punjab, police appointed spies within such cartels and called them CAT because the cat as an animal patiently waits for the target and attacks at the right time. These undercover agents would work for those nefarious organizations, informing the cops about their plans and moves.

Meanwhile, Gurnam also stumbles upon the real killers of his father, and all hell breaks loose. But not before a shower of double-crosses, murders and conspiracies being hatched. The end is a cliffhanger again, and like in most series, expletives, excessive violence and explicit sex scenes rule.

Like most such gritty tales, the show is redeemed by the many authentic touches in detailing, and somewhere behind all the lengthy writing is a smart idea executed with uncommon skill that however, falls prey to lax editing and indulgent direction.

Above all, the series is marked by some sterling performances: Randeep Hooda is the anchor of the story and both Abhishant Rana and he score very high as the adult and earlier versions of Gurnam Singh. They are both more than perfect in their respective characters, and full marks to Abhishant’s facial expressions and Randeep’s stoic yet ruthless manner.

The showpiece of the series, however, is Suvinder Vickey as Sehmat Singh. As the series progresses, we begin to hate him more and more for his wiles and amoral acts. Here is someone who deserves an award for his terrific turn. A close second is Pramod Pathak as the chameleonic Chandan Kumar: he is fantastic in his volatile facial expressions and servile body language.

Coral Bhamra as Sweety, Geeta Agrawal as Madam Aulakh, Gurinder Makna as Bill, Dakssh Ajit Singh as Laadi and Danish Sood as Sunny are all brilliant—check Sunny gradually breaking down on his bike as he slowly absorbs the implications of being cheated. The actor who plays Madam Aulakh’s loyal aide (I could not get his name) is also exceptional.

For largely the performances and the intense base of the script and filming, the show deserves a good rating. But this CAT loses a higher rating by a few whiskers!

Rating: ***

Netflix presents Movie Tunnel Production’s & Jelly Bean Entertainment’s CAT Created by: Balwinder Singh Janjua Produced by: Balwinder Singh Janjua & Panchali Chakraverty Directed by: Balwinder Singh Janjua, Rupinder Chahal, Jimmy Singh & Anutej Singh Written by:       Balwinder Singh Janjua, Rupinder Chahal, Anil Rodhan & Jimmy Singh Music: Joel Crasto & Rakesh Vema Starring:Randeep Hooda, Abhishant Rana, Hasleen Kaur, Suvinder Vickey, Geeta Agrawal, Kavya Thapar, Rehmat Ratan, Ajay Bhardwaj, Varun Narang, K.P. Singh, Sonpreet Jhawanda, Gurinder Makna, Jaipreet Singh, Sukhwinder Chahal, Pramod Pathak, Dakssh Ajit Singh, Coral Bhamra, Manish Gulati, Eklavey Kashyap, Elisha Mayor, Ramandeep Yadav & others

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