Cast: Varun Sharma, Manjot Singh, Elnaaz Norouzi, Tanya Maniktala, Gautam Mehra, Kshitij Chauhan
Director: Simarpreet Singh
In the 21st century internet has become an integral part of our lives, in a lot of ways it is just impossible to live without it. However, there is more to it than just plain Google, Wikipedia and social media platforms. Helmed by Simarpreet Singh, Chutzpah a 7-part series that deals with and exposes the often-disturbing darker side of the internet that is related to porn, stalking and other anti-social activities. Through five inter-woven stories, Chutzpah tries to bring forth these issues with its ensemble cast of Varun Sharma, Manjot Singh, Elnaaz Norouzi, Tanya Maniktala, Gautam Mehra and Kshitij Chauhan.
Chutzpah treats the internet as another character rather than a prop and in a way gets the maximum character arc by the time the series ends. The makers show the internet being used by people to manipulate, gaslight, pretend and bully others’ lives through the mere click of a button. Kevin (Gautam Mehra) plays a social media influencer who is obsessed with the number of likes, shares and comments on his posts. He is also trying to draw the attention of a well-known influencer Deepali (Aashima Mahajan). Kshitij Chauhan plays Prateek, his roommate who only has one agenda to get laid with the hottest girls in town before he blocks them on dating sites forever. He is only concerned with keeping the “hottie in town” image in his stud group.
Then there is Varun Sharma playing Vikas, an app developer who has recently relocated to the United States trying to maintain his long-distance relationship with his college sweetheart Shikha played by Tanya Maniktala. On the other hand, there is Manjot Singh’s Rishi, a shy and naive bloke who doesn’t have much going on in his life except stalking Richa (Pranali Rathod) and trying to make a friendship/relationship with her. He spends the rest of his time on the internet watching porn. Elnaaz Norouzi plays Wild Butterfly, an aspiring actress who tries to make ends meet by signing up on a porn website on which Rishi registers. She satisfies his desires as well as serves as his life coach when it comes to bodily pleasures.
Writers Amit Babbar and Mrighdeep Singh Lamba focus on the dark web through these five stories, bringing to light the hidden desires and fetishes of people that they would rather like to keep out of public eye. They bring out the vulnerabilities of the characters in Chutzpah pretty nicely but never delve deep into what could have been a poignant story. The series attempts to highlight the all-pervading way the web has taken over the present generation through dating apps, social media platforms and trolls that give a chink in your armour, but in the end the story focuses primarily on the characters’ physical desires that makes the narrative insipid. The scenes also become repetitive and after a time your attention seems to waver with the characters resorting to same tropes according to their quirks over and over again.
Character development is better dealt with than the narrative. Talking about performances, Varun and Manjot are entertaining to watch and prove their comic timing once again. Tanya in her limited screen time is endearing. Gautam Mehra with his quest to become an influencer stands true to dozens of others in our personal lives. Debutant Kshitij Chauhan’s somewhat negative character provides the right amount of hate. Elnaaz plays the sultry character impeccably well.
Chutzpah has its target audience in place with trying to ensnare the younger generation who can’t seem to live without the internet and the gadgets. However, the execution of the series is wanting and it gets entangled with its own storyline with no clear cut agenda in what it wants to say. Chutzpah is producer Dinesh Vijan’s maiden OTT venture and with the type of stellar films that he has in his repertoire like Stree, Luka Chuppi and others, we hope he comes up with better content post this series. Chutzpah is watchable to some extent and should be seen if you want to kill time with not much to think about.
PeepingMoon.com gives Chutzpah 2.5 Moons!