The sequel to the MX player series Ek Thi Begum (2020) makes only feeble attempts to explore its outlandish premise: a housewife whose husband is killed by a powerful gangster vows revenge.
In the first season, Ashraf Bhatkar seduces her way through half of the Mumbai’s underworld to get closer to crime lord Maqsood. By the end of the season, Maqsood’s men have grievously wounded Ashraf but left without bothering to check her pulse.
A similar lack of attention to detail runs through the second and final season, which has been written by Sachin Darekar and directed by Darekar and Vishal Vimal Modhave. Ashraf’s devoted husband, the police officer Vikram (Chinmay Mandlekar), nurses her back to health and gives her a new identity, Leela Paswan.
As Leela, Ashraf (Anuja Sathe) teams up with another section of the underworld, which includes drug dealer Ashwin (Hitesh Bhojraj), in her quest to reach Maqsood (Ajay Gehi). It’s a short leap between handling a sensitive narcotics assignment and practically taking over Ashwin’s gang, which upsets his partner Wardha (Purnanada Wandekar).
Boldly moving about unrecognised and smoothly evading capture, Ashraf is allowed to carry on untrammelled all the way to the bitter end. Mumbai’s famed informer network is nowhere in sight as Ashraf/Leela hoodwinks Ashwin, Maqsood and his posse, and the Mumbai police.
Ek Thi Begum 2 includes characters based on actual gangsters (Maqsood is modelled on Dawood Ibrahim, while Ashwin is inspired by Ashwin Naik). Maqsood, who is prone to entering a frame in a cloud of cigarette smoke, is described as a criminal mastermind but doesn’t even have a photo by which to identify Ashraf.
The one man who does, Ashraf’s old adversary Nana (Rajendra Shisatkar), waits for as long to expose her secret as it takes to dole out 12 overly long and frequently brain fade-inducing episodes.
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