Reeldrama’s Assamese web series ‘Mrityunjoy’: A thriller that lacks thrill

An eight episodic dive into murder, mystery and mysticism, ‘Mrityunjoy’ is Assamese OTT platform Reeldrama’s latest original offering. Mrityunjoy, the name of the protagonist, comes from his ability to conquer death and his super human abilities. He is blind but also far stronger than most human. The series explores an unusual turn of events in which he comes across a serial killer on the loose that may be far more powerful than he is.

When serial killer stories ditch the whodunit structure and expose the killer in the middle of the film, it’s generally fascinating. As the plot sinks into a thick psychological dilemma and a grey area of good and bad, these dramas become a riveting character study centred on the killer or villain. ‘Mrityunjoy’ tries traversing into that territory but it lacks the two most vital ingredients that bind these stories together: an atmospheric creepiness, intrigue, tension and thrill. To begin with, the killings are uninspired, and the presentation is unimaginative. This is why viewers who have already been wowed by films like ‘Se7en’, ‘Memories of Murder’, ‘Zodiac’, ‘Insomnia’ and many others will find ‘Mrityunjoy’ to be an effort that fails to break any new ground.

But however, it registers a positive trend of genre storytelling and visits an infrequently traversed territory. In the first half-hour, we get a sense of the mystery, with numerous fatalities recorded without any apparent reason or pattern. The perplexed investigators bang their heads against the wall as the law enforcement is shown at their weakest.

However, as the plot progresses, it becomes plodding and superficial as the mystical motif dominates leading to a dismal conclusion. The subplot that explores a secret ashram with god-like men works and doesn’t. It works because, its ideas of domination, control and judgement flowing from the corrupt mind of a disciple extends to the decaying virtues of another who self-validates himself as a judge, jury, and executioner. It also works because it establishes the protagonist in context of two opposing extremities of the power spectrum. It also works because, of course, suspension of disbelief.

But it doesn’t work because the overreliance on it takes away from the procedural aspects of a serial killer drama. Moreover, the characters don’t feel authentic, and as a result, there was little emotional investment in the plot on my part as an audience. Worthy of mention here is a love story that is forced in just because commercialization of a movie or a series is incomplete without it?

The denouement was also lacklustre, serving just to clean up the damage left by a poorly thought-out serial killer premise. I’m not sure what I was expecting from this series, but I don’t believe I got it. This is due to the story’s confusion in trying to be so many things at once. Even if we believe it to be a look into Mrityunjoy’s past and present, the writing falls short of demonstrating such. It is unclear as to whose point of view the storytelling adheres to – the vision of a protagonist who is literally blind, or the standpoint of the chief investigating officer who is killed halfway through. Because it feels like the entire murder mystery part of it was just a side quest for the character development of Mrityunjoy. One would wonder what purpose all of this serves, to which I would respond that the creators have promised a second season.

To conclude, ‘Mrityunjoy’ is a thriller with little thrills, but it could be mildly entertaining if you don’t don’t watch many movies much. If it weren’t for the formulaic plot and boring direction, it would have been a series to watch out for because it had the potential to be much more.

About Kalpa Jyoti Bhuyan

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The writer is a MA Political Science student of Gauhati University. He did his graduation from Cotton University. Apart from writing, he is a movie enthusiast.

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