The Night Manager yet to go off-duty!
Remakes in cinema are getting increasingly dicey by the film, but good web series are often adapted for making Hindi shows for OTT. This is easier for multiple reasons: one, the content can be truly good at core and the best parts can be retained and the rest modified, and two, a lesser name of viewers have watched the originals. A classic case, though on TV and not OTT, was 24 some years ago, while on the web, there have been multiple examples.
The Night Manager is a adaptation of John le Carre’s novel that was filmed as a series of the same name on BBC One (Britain) and later shown in the US. The six-episode series was an espionage thriller about the illegal arms trade and an ex-soldier who is now a night manager in a resort. The adaptation here is done with finesse, and when I found that it was a 4-episode saga lasting about three hours overall, I was happy that the Indian version on Disney+Hotstar seemed therefore crisper, because the detailing in the adaptation was done well, we had some fine acting talent led by Anil Kapoor (also a protagonist in 24), and the pace was well-done.
Alas, it was not to be!
The four episodes here end up with the ‘Night Manager’ still on duty, so to speak! That is, the story remains incomplete, and the platform informs the viewer at the end of the last episode that we will have to wait until June 2023 to watch the rest of the story!
Waaaaaaaaaah! And then Growwwwwwlllllllllll!
A quick glance at the synopsis of the first three episodes of the original gives us a glimpse of the changes done here to the narrative itself, apart from the setting, and I found them interesting in the context of a decidedly more emotional Indian audience. The standard narrative devices are all there, as are the characterizations, but the template has been mutated very well to rivet the Indian viewer. Add technical brilliance and superb locales, and The Night Manager is decidedly among the most polished works seen in Hindi on OTT.
But I truly cannot understand the logic behind postponing half the series to four months later in a single story that has no logical scope for a purely Hindi cliffhanger!
And I really wonder what kind—and quantum— of viewership the platform expects by the time June comes! Will not most of us who liked this series and are sufficiently curious go on and watch the original and get done with it? As for those who personally did not find it engrossing, why should they bother to watch the supposed Season Two anyway? This is one great blunder of a decision for sure!
The story is follows ex-Naval officer Shaan Sengupta (Aditya Roy Kapur), now a night manager in a hotel. He is roped in by intelligence officer Lipika Saikia Rao (Tilottama Shome) to infiltrate into the inner circle of a tycoon, Shailendra Rungta a.k.a Shelly (Anil Kapoor), who is actually a trader in blood and death, dealing internationally in illegal arms. Never mind if he is a doting father to little Taha (Shrenik Arora), though his wife is separated.
A whole cartel of his men and women apart, Shaan and Lipika are now poised against a traitor in their own midst. And all that culminates here is that Shailendra offers Shaan a position in his business and welcomes him as a part of his family, based chiefly on the fact that Shaan has rescued his son from a kidnapping attempt that almost cost him his life. The real saga has yet to happen, as a teaser shows at the end.
However, since a critic’s job is to analyze the material he has to view, I will remain now on duty to state that the series has been engagingly scripted, edited and directed with fantastically apt background music by C.S. Sam (who is proving a wizard with each enterprise I have watched!). The show’s level is further raised by a cavalcade of terrific performances, led by Aditya Roy Kapur, looking extremely good as the night manager. Aditya has always been underrated as an actor, right from his debut feature, Action Replayy in 2010. He even holds his own with and also scores a shade over Anil Kapoor in their scenes together, though Anil is looking perfectly in sync with his complex character of the amoral Shelly.
Tilottama Shome is good, better and more expressive than in a lot of her past characters, ditto Shobhita Dhulipala here. Saswata Chaterjee as the suspicious BJ is in great fettle, and Joy Sengupta as the harangued Danish Khan, Lipika’s immediate superior, is aptly meek. I also liked Shrenik Arora as Taha, while Arista Mehta as Safina is brilliant.
Bagavathi Perumal makes a mark despite a stereotyped role as D’Silva, while Rukhsar Rehman as Myra and Resh Lamba as Freddie are the sore points among the performers. The rest are alright.
So do I give a rating to a deliberately-kept-abrupt saga? Maybe a similar inconclusive one will do, that can get better or worse when evaluating the entire story! And will I now watch the original English one? Definitely!
Disney+Hotstar presents Banijay Asia and Highgate Entertainment’s The Night Manager Produced by: Deepak Dhar, Rajesh Chadha, Amrita Sen, Banijay Asia Directed by: Sandeep Modi & Priyanka Ghose Written by: John le Carré, David Farr, Akshat Ghildial, Sandeep Modi, Shridhar Raghavan & Shantanu Srivastava Music: Sam C.S. Starring: Anil Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapur, Tilottama Shome, Sobhita Dhulipala, Shrenik Arora, Arista Mehta, Joy Sengupta, Saswata Chaterjee, Akashdeep Sabir, Ravi Behl, Rukhsar Rehman, Bagavathi Perumal, Resh Lamba, Anand Vikas Potdukhe, Bhupendra Singh Negi, Owais Bhatt, Vikram Kapadia, Supriya Shukla & others