Bejoy Nambiar’s web series Flip, which was released on Eros Now on March 23, is something of an oddity. Four stories disparate in tone and theme come together in the anthology show, the filmmaker and a vague air of suspense being the only thread that weaves them together (Nambiar is the creator and has also directed three of four episodes). There’s a strong cast, some interesting narrative techniques and engaging stories, but nothing stands out. The promised twists for each storyline aren’t as shocking as the creators would have you believe.
The pick of the lot is Massage, the third episode, which starts out as a charming love story, acquires a surrealist touch and then takes a tragi-comic turn. Jim Sarbh is in good form as Keke, a Parsi man whose best friend sends him for a “happy ending” massage in lieu of a pre-wedding bachelor party. The trip to the spa takes a bizarre turn as Keke finds himself in a 20-year-coma and wakes up to a drastically different reality.
The zany episode is well paced and cruises along on its performances – another noteworthy turn is by Viraf Patel. Nambiar is clearly having fun as he cashes in on irreverent Parsi humour, in which Gujarati and Hindi come together for a series of expletive-laden observations.
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The first episode, The Hunt, stands out for its cinematography. The Black Mirror-style dystopian adventure takes place in an alternative reality where humans, instead of animals, are fair game. The cast includes Sheetal Menon, Naman Shaw, Rii, Aditi Vasudev and Isha Asmin. The 45-minute episode is set in a sprawling jungle and the camera evocatively captures the greenery, streams and waterfalls against which untold horrors are set to unfold.
There are many potential parables about the hunter and the hunted. However, the story does not develop its intriguing possibilities and the focus instead shifts to a far more mundane strand of the tale.
Episode two, Bully, is elevated by Ranvir Shorey’s performance as a feisty teenager who grows into an ineffectual adult after a traumatic incident strips him off all bravado and backbone. Taken for a ride by his bosses and employees, Shorey’s Raghu bears the many affronts stone-faced, but becomes increasingly embittered. One day, Raghu decides to turn his life around. The 24-minute story benefits from Shorey’s presence, who sketches in the layers with his expressions alone and communicates the frustrations of a repressed man without an outlet for his angst.
The weakest link is episode four, Happy Birthday, in which Arjun Mathur stars in a scattershot tale involving a hereditary curse and a couple with no qualms in airing their dirty laundry in public. Directed by Aman Sachdeva, the episode follows Mathur’s character as he tells two friends about a curse that kills all the patriarchs of his family on the fourth birthdays of their sons. The protagonist has chosen not to have children, but a recent encounter makes him believe that he may not have shaken off his fate after all. Mathur tries to soldier amidst ethereal observations about the illusory nature of life and raucous fights.