Bad Cop Review: An Overly Hurried, Steadfastly Middling Thriller

Bad Cop Review: It really is just another Bollywood potboiler stretched out into an eight-episode web series. It could, with the requisite permissions from the rights holders, well have been titled Karan Arjun 2.

Bad Cop Review: An Overly Hurried, Steadfastly Middling Thriller

A still from Bad Cop.(courtesy: disneyplushotstar)

The principal plot premise of Bad Cop, streaming on Disney+Hotstar and produced by Fremantle India, is as trite as they come. Two identical twins end up on two sides of the law. One becomes a police inspector, the other a small-time conman.

Bad Cop is really just another Bollywood potboiler stretched out into an eight-episode web series. It could, with the requisite permissions from the rights holders, well have been titled Karan Arjun 2. Yes, the guy in uniform is named Karan, the crook is Arjun.

When the paths of the orphaned siblings cross again, the inevitable happens. Big trouble erupts and the line that separates the chor from the police is breached. On a fateful night, during a police operation at a Mumbai ferry terminal, the brothers who grew up in an orphanage vowing to live and die together are both wounded.

In the aftermath of the shootout, the thief, witness to a murder in a Pune hotel, finds himself in a soup. He is the prime suspect. As he struggles to dodge a special investigator deployed to find the culprit, the robber is caught in a web of lies, deceit and divided loyalties.

Adapted by screenwriter Rensil D'Silva from the German RTL Television show Kriminell Gut, the Aditya Datt-directed crime drama series - the streamer has dropped two episodes, which will be followed by an episode a week - is dizzyingly frenetic and frustratingly wayward.

Bad Cop is an overly hurried, steadfastly middling thriller that gets caught in a tangle of its own making. It leaps from one thing to another and is unable to see the wood for the trees. (This review is of only six of the show's eight episodes, so one does not know whether the show will get better or worse as it gallops to its climax).

Lead actor Gulshan Devaiah is solid in a double role. He misses no trick and gets fully into the swing of things. But the strain of having to work his way through, and around, a storyline that is way too febrile and frenzied for its own good takes a toll on parts of his performance.

In order to save himself, one of the two characters that Devaiah plays, Arjun the lawbreaker, pretends to be somebody that he is not. In the process, he has to deal on a daily basis with policewoman Devika (Harleen Sethi, nearly as good as she was in Kohrra), wife and boss of the brother who is on the side of the law.

Devika has drifted apart from her husband but she continues to share a home with him for the sake of her daughter (Keya Ingale). Arjun, on his part, has a comely partner in crime, Kiki (Aishwarya Sushmita), who pops up now and then and snaps at his heels.

Kiki wants Arjun to abandon his mission and flee to safety with her. But the man stays put because he is determined to find out why detective Aarif Khan (Saurabh Sachdeva) thinks that he had a hand in the murder of a journalist.

The elaborate subterfuge-and-false-hopes construct is intended to yield an edge-of-the-seat, cat-and-mouse game with danger lurking at every step, but it never really shapes up into anything that could be deemed gripping.

Anurag Kashyap is cast as a gangster Kazbe, who runs his underworld enterprise from inside a prison without any hindrance from the law. He is a hot-headed, foul-mouthed bad guy straight out of a massy Hindi movie.

The mafioso snaps at everybody within earshot. His favourite punching bag is his nephew and henchman Raghav (Deepak Kamboj), the only son of his sister (Grusha Kapoor in a cameo).

The bumbling Raghav botches up an important job. That sets off a chain of events that messes up matters for Arjun, Devika and Aarif. When things come to a pass and a precious consignment goes missing, Kazbe has a trump card up his sleeves.

Kazbe's is, of course, only one of many searches that constitute the plot of Bad Cop. Arjun is on his own mission of concealment and discovery, and so is Aarif Khan. The former is determined to prove his innocence. The latter is bent upon bringing the killer of his journalist-friend to book.

The first few episodes of Bad Cop linger sporadically over the activities of a gang of elephant poachers and ivory smugglers. The forest brigands ship their ill-gotten haul to Mumbai. Who these people are and how they ply their trade is what Arjun must figure out once he has stepped into the minefield.

Bad Copis an action drama. It has no paucity of thrills and chases. But owing to the mechanical, formulaic manner of the mounting, the technical finesse that is on show is of a strictly superficial variety.

The series, only mildly engaging, is too rushed to be able to give the audience a realistic chance of making complete sense of the goings-on. For a thriller, momentum is usually an admirable thing, but when it isn't moderated right and is allowed to be as unbridled as it is here, pace can prove to be counter-productive.

Under the weight of its many contrivances and the impediments that they create, and despite a noteworthy star turn from Gulshan Devaiah and a competent supporting performance by Harleen Sethi, Bad Cop creaks far more than it crackles.


Anurag Kashyap, Gulshan Devaiah and Harleen Sethi


Aditya Datt