Web Series: Kaafir
Platform: ZEE 5
Cast: Dia Mirza, Mohit Raina, Dishita Jain
Director: Sonam Nair
With the evolving web space, the homegrown content on our OTT platforms is finally gaining momentum. While Netflix, Amazon, Hotstar boasts of stuff featuring international show slots, ZEE 5, is pushing the talent and stories within our homeland. In its latest offering, the OTT platform on June 15, streamed an 8 part series, titled Kaafir, starring Dia Mirza and Mohit Raina in lead roles. It follows the journey of a Pakistani woman Kainaaz Akhtar (Dia Mirza), who crosses the POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) by mistake and is then accused of a being a militant. Seven years down the line, she is now a mother to a six-year-old girl Seher (Dishita Jain), who is born and raised in the jail premise. An Indian journalist and former lawyer, Vedant Rathore (Mohit Raina), enters into their lives, helping them seek justice and freedom. What transpires in the first few episodes is a heart-wrenching revelation of Kainaaz's cruel destiny and the atrocities she faced in the jail, followed by a powerful courtroom drama. Towards the climax episodes, the audience will be torn between love & humanity, and sacrifice.
Written by prolific writer Bhavani Iyer, the woman behind acclaimed scripts like Black and, Raazi - Kaafir is no exception; it is high on human values and banks on the emotional quotient of viewers. Director Sonam Nair, who has assisted on projects like Wake Up Sid, and helmed films like Gippi and Khujli, makes an impressive foray into the digital space. While for viewers, Kaafir is set in Kashmir, the series is shot in the beautiful, snow-capped mountains of Himachal Pradesh and cinematographer Pratik Shah has done a swell job with capturing the beauty of our hills, as well as our lead protagonist, Dia Mirza.
That, Dia, looks beautiful onscreen, has no two ways about it. But Bhavani and Sonam have fleshed out a tearjerker role for Dia, in which she has sunk her teeth into and belted out one of the finest performances of her career. It's a shame, Dia is an underrated artist by all means, and the soul she brings to Kainaaz's character will give you a sneak peek into the harsh realities of Pakistani prisoners, their ordeal and struggle to prove their innocence, in instances like hers. Because not all Pakistanis are terrorists and militants, and here Mohit accidentally stumbles upon her case, which is conveniently forgotten by the authorities. He has a conscience to bail out Dia out of her misery but deeper you dig and he is guilty, conscious of his actions' in past and Dia's freedom is his redemption. From the beloved mythological Lord Shiva on TV screens to Vedant, Mohit has a come a long way. He is pitch perfect, loneliness lurking in his eyes, is dependable and yet, he is beautifully flawed.
While Kashmir and its blood-soaked history is a cinematic delight for the makers, Kaafir has plenty of heart. Away from the censure of Censor board, the series manages to expose the authoritarian abuse of military used to oppress the protestors. What doesn't work in its favour is, the series is far too sanitized, considering the core subject in itself is controversial by all means. The length of episodes (each varying almost 48 to 52 mins), stretches after a point, and the narrative loses the steam. Editor Yashashwini Y.P could have shortened the length of each episode by 10-12 mins, but few events unfold too slowly, and the tension becomes palpable for no reason.
As you cannot hold this against the imprisoned Kainaaz and her guilt-stricken lawyer, who discover faith, humanity, love in the toughest of the circumstances, and above all, the ability to help heal each other. Dia and Mohit are pitch-perfect, belting out heart-rendering performances in this Siddharth P Malhotra and Zee 5's collaboration.
PeepingMoon.com gives Kaafir 3.5 Moons