The obsessive fan concept gets a twist in the ZEE5 thriller Date With Saie, which stars Saie Tamhankar as a Marathi cinema superstar who is being filmed without her knowledge by a stalker.
The Marathi web series, also starring Rohit Kokate, has been written and directed by Dyanesh Zoting (Raakshas) and was released on the streaming platform in December.
The show follows Saie Tamhankar, who is introduced to non-resident Indian banker Himanshu (Kokate) at a Janmashtami celebration event where she is the chief guest. When an unruly mob tries to accost her at the celebrations, Himanshu comes to her rescue and escorts her to safety. Himanshu is later revealed to be Raghunath, an aspiring filmmaker. His plan, a nightmarish spin on The Truman Show, is to create a tragic romance starring him and Saie, but instead of arc lights and elaborate sets, he wants the real deal.
The intrigue builds up consistently over the initial episodes, as Raghunath starts orchestrating coffee and movie dates by following Saie wherever she goes, all the while filming their interactions with the help of a sidekick. The non-linear structure also brings us to the present day, where Raghunath goes to extreme lengths to complete his film.
Rohit Kokate (Kaul, Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil) is pitch-perfect as the sinister and obsessive filmmaker, and Saie Tamhankar too delivers a strong performance. The show works as a commentary on the commodification of movie stars and their treatment as public property.
After a great build-up, however, the pace starts to lag in the middle, only recovering somewhat in the final episodes as Kokate’s intentions get murkier and more dangerous. The show also frequently sidesteps inconvenient logistical details, placing Kokate in strategic locations and situations without explaining how he got there.
Date With Saie deserves credit for its intriguing premise that sets it apart from the dime-a-dozen crime dramas in the digital space. A shorter runtime and a little more attention to detail would have resulted in a taut and crisp thriller. Unfortunately, Date With Saie starts with a bang and trails off into a whimper.