In the Telugu-language show Dayaa, JD Chekravarthy plays a character with a name as misleading as that of his gangster from the film Satya (1998). Dayaa is accommodating just like Satya is truthful – up until a point.

Dayaa is the driver of a van that transports frozen fish. When Dayaa find a body amidst the regular piscine produce, he knows that nothing will be the same again for him or his heavily pregnant wife Alivelu(Eesha Rebba).

The body belongs to the firebrand television journalist Kavitha (Ramya Nambeesan). Flashbacks reveal Kavitha’s bold sallies against the perverted legislator Pritam (Babloo Prithiveeraj). Unable to function without making crass remarks or gestures, Pritam unleashes Kabir (Nandagopal), his mute Anton Chigurh-like enforcer, on Kavitha.

In the present, Dayaa, aided by his friend Prabha (Josh Ravi), worries about getting rid of the corpse. Keen on avoiding the police, Dayaa and Prabha make a decision that has consequences for them while also connecting them to other characters, including Kavitha’s crusading co-worker Shabana (Vishnupriyaa Bhimeneni). A police officer who has the brash manner of the speedy case solver turns up looking all business-like but conveniently straggles several steps behind Dayaa and his posse.

The remake of the Bangladeshi show Taqdeer is out on Disney+ Hotstar. Director Pavan Sadineni’s adaptation of the original show, written by Neamoth Ullah Masum and Syed Ahmed Shawki, converts a moral drama that unfolded in a realistic milieu into a pulpy, twist-oozing thriller. The episodes average 30 minutes, in keeping with the show’s ambition to offer “snackable content”.

(The Hindi dubbed version of Taqdeer is available on JioCinema for those who wish to compare.)

Eight episodes could have easily been five and nobody would have noticed. Despite giving no real sense of time or location – the plot unfolds over a couple of days that seem longer; vast distances are spanned within minutes – Dayaa has ample surprises and deftly sketched characters to hold interest.

Chekravarthy’s resourceful driver is opaque enough to make you wonder what he is up to. Josh Ravi, as Dayaa’s loyal friend, Vishnupriyaa Bhimeneni, as Kavitha’s dogged colleague, and Nandagopal as the mercenary Kabir, are engaging actors – Nandagopal especially enjoys himself thoroughly being partly terrifying and partly comical.

Dayaa (2023).