A talented ensemble cast searches in vain for the humour vein in PariWar. The Disney+ Hotstar web series revolves around a family in Allahabad squabbling over property. The culprit is the patriarch Kashiram (Gajraj Rao), who has given away a lucrative plot of land to theatre actor Gangaram (Vijay Raaz) to build a home for widows and widowers.

Kashiram’s sons Mahipal (Yashpal Sharma) and Shishupal (Ranvir Shorey) are understandably outraged. His America-returned daughter Mandakini (Nidhi Singh) is not as worried, especially since she finds love with Gangaram’s son Munna (Abhishek Banerjee) soon after landing home.

Is Kashiram spiteful, eccentric, or merely trying to find a way to unite his divided brood? Director Sagar Ballary and writers Gaganjeet Singh and Shantanu Aman don’t bother too much with character building and instead focus on rolling out comic sketches.

Kashiram’s motives remain murky, all the better to ensure the inevitable second season. The debt-ridden brothers are as interchangeable with each another as are their wives (who happen to be sisters). Yet, the best scenes involve Yashpal Sharma and Ranvir Shorey, both seasoned actors who can vivify dull scenes. The gifted Sadiya Siddiqui, playing Shishupal’s wife Anju, isn’t given a similar opportunity

Gajraj Rao, saddled with an ostentatious wig and a beatific look, has little to do. Kashiram’s domestic worker (Kumar Varun) and Gangaram, who is shadier than he looks, have more scenes and lines than the man whose actions lead to the kerfuffle.

The theme of disgruntled siblings brought together by the death of a parent (or the imminent prospect of this) has been explored to better effect in such films as Khajoor Pe Atke and the unreleased Ram Prasad Ki Tehrvi. The feeling that nearly everybody in the show is coasting along on past achievements – from Ballary, director of the 2007 hit Bheja Fry, to much of the cast – is reinforced by a surprise cameo in the final episode. The character is played by an actor who starred in a breakout hit with one of PariWar’s key performers – a final attempt at cashing in on an outdated cheque.

PariWar (2020).