If you keep your hopes low, you won’t be too disappointed, a wise soul says in Nakaab – fair warning.

The bar for plotting, performance and logic in Soumik Sen’s web series on MX Player is actually somewhere below ground level. Did popular television actor Vibha Dutta (Ankitaa Chakraborty) leap to her death, or was she killed? Was she involved in something bigger because, after all, the setting is Mumbai, India’s vice capital?

Among the suspects is the politician Vikas Varde (Amitabha Bhattacharya), who supposedly has Mumbai and its crore-plus residents in his pocket. But the chief culprit appears to be Vibha’s employer and soap queen Zohra Mehra (Mallika Sherawat). Fond of pant-suits, seductive looks and Patiala pegs, Zohra can “literally manufacture desire”.

Although the case is being investigated by police officer Pavan (Gautam Rode), his junior, Aditi (Esha Gupta), is the one who gets her hands on a stash of explosive evidence. Vibha’s cellphone conveniently contains incriminating videos with proper camera angles and sound levels. These videos point to a sordid racket that threatens to take down both Pavan and Aditi.

The series clearly intends to resonate with the death by suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput. Nakaab ventures to say something important about the seamy side of showbiz, but ends up being an exercise in cashing in on a tragedy.

Despite a lot of talk of dirty deeds, the screenplay, by Soumik Sen and Sourav Mohapatra, isn’t oversexed. It is, however, too severely underwritten to justify an eight-episode run. There’s even a separate credit for Aditi’s non sequitur-filled voiceover (Pratik Thakare).

Ranjan Palit has shot the series along with Manas Bhattacharyya, which might explain why some of the scenes are atmospheric, at the very least.

The already sluggish narrative is frequently interrupted by commercial breaks. MX Player wants us to pay up for an ad-free version. On the basis of Nakaab, that prospect is unlikely.

Nakaab (2021).