The first season of Duranga on ZEE5 had the intriguing premise of a fugitive, who is married to a cop, suddenly finding his past catching up with him. The adaptation of the Korean series Flower of Evil was directed by the late Pradeep Sarkar and Aijaz Khan.
Abhishek (Gulshan Devaiah), the son of deranged serial killer Bala Banne (Zakir Hussain), escaped a coastal village and was provided a new identity by the doctor Manohar Patel (Rajesh Khattar) and his wife Anuprya (Divya Seth Shah). They gave Abhishek the name of their son Sammit (Amit Sadh), who is in a coma and hidden away. The unbelievable reason behind this subterfuge is explained in Duranga 2.
As the grim-looking Sammit, who is a metal sculptor, Abhishek marries Ira (Drashti Dhami). She is supposedly an ace cop who is blind to the strange goings-on in her own home. They have a daughter Anya (Hera Mishra), who in season 2 is bullied by schoolmates because her father works from home – which is strange, after the coronavirus pandemic.
The last season ended with the real Sammit waking up from his coma. In the new edition, developed by Goldie Behl, directed by Rohan Sippy and written by Charudutt Acharya, the suspension of disbelief that was previously generated goes out of control.
A man who has been in a coma for 14 years shows no physical or mental decline. The psychopathic tendencies he displayed as a kid are even sharper. Amit Sadh plays his character with facial twitches, grimaces and hysterical giggles, like the stereotyped lunatic from Hindi films. Mental health advocates will find plenty to get upset about.
The returning characters include television journalist Vikas (Abhijeet Khandekar). Despite being grievously hurt by Abhishek in the last season, Vikas is overeager to help find Bala Banne’s accomplice and clear Abhishek’s name. He doesn’t seem to have anything better to do, neither does the police force running behind an ancient cold case. There’s also Abhishek’s enigmatic sister Prachi (Barkha Bisht) and Ira’s loyal colleague, Nikhil (Kiran Srinivas) frowning away in bafflement.
Abhishek gets worried when Sammit befriends Anya by pretending to be a professor. Overnight, Sammit acquires the computer skills required to create a fake identity.
The series is pointlessly stretched over seven episodes, with mercifully short 30-minute episodes. There isn’t much suspense here: the audience knows who the accomplice is but he is smarter and quicker than everyone pursuing him.
If the previous season was contrived, the new one adds lazy twists to the mix. The killer always happens to be in the right place and always evades capture.
A crucial call comes when the accomplice is present. In the clumsy manner of screen phone calls, the receiver repeats what was said so that preventive action may be taken. When Abhishek is about to get the accomplice’s name, another well-timed phone call stops the maniacally laughing pimp (Ganesh Yadav) from revealing the information. This happens often enough to be exasperating.
Ira puts her love for her husband over professional duty, which makes her somewhat unsympathetic. But the real dangers to society are the Patels, unhinged by guilt and parental devotion.
Gulshan Devaiah puts in a sincere performance, given the ratcheting absurdity. The show ends with yet another cliffhanger. The thought of a third season is scarier than all the stabbing, nail-pulling kind of violence inflicted on the viewer.