A brief period between the 80s and the 90s was considered to be the golden era for the serialised format of entertainment. We used to get shows like Fauji, Zabaan Sambhalke, Jungle Book and more. However, the TV soon became home to mostly saas-bahu serials and the industry still hasn’t found a remedy for it yet.
In the meantime, digital shows produced by platforms like Netflix, Amazon and Hungama Play have gained popularity as they combine great production value with engaging stories, and bring content right in the palm of our hands. After introducing us to India’s first female serial killer in ‘Damaged’ and thrilling us with ‘Hankaar’, Hungama Play is back with ‘Bar Code’.
‘Bar Code’ takes you to the neon-drenched nightlife of Mumbai, where there’s lot of partying, booze and more. However, underneath all that fun, a war is waging between two ‘friends’, Vicky and Sahil.
The show’s opening is bound to remind you a lot of ‘The Social Network’, where two young men are sitting across the table, while a bunch of suit-clad people discuss the fate of their companies. A brief exposition from the President of the Mumbai Bar & Restaurant Association sets the tone of the series and the extent of the rivalry between the leads.
‘Bar Code’ revolves around Sahil and Vicky, who open one of Mumbai’s best nightclubs called Vibe. However, due to an ego-clash between the two, they sever all ties between them and their mutual friends. But matters don’t end there as Vicky vows to establish a nightclub that’s better than Sahil’s, leading to a lot of mud-slinging and scheming from both ends.
Karan Wahi and Akshay Oberoi perfectly embody the aggressive and self-centered nature of Vicky and Sahil, respectively. Characters played by Simran Kaur Mundi, Parina Chopra and Rohan Khurana effectively show the damage that Vicky and Sahil’s rivalry is causing.
Most of the drama and tension in ‘Bar Code’ originates from the conflict between Vicky and Sahil, which wouldn’t have been palpable if it wasn’t for Karan Wahi and Akshay Oberoi. Their interaction scenes may be limited in the series, however, you can feel the heat between them, even when they aren’t in front of each other, because of the performance from the actors.
That said, since too much of anything isn’t good, the tension in the story is punctuated by Simran’s Rhea and Parina’s Minaz. They personify the losses incurred in Vicky and Sahil’s fight for prominence and also act as the heart of the show. In addition to that, we’ve Rohan Khurana’s Mickey, who uses his comedic flair to the fullest and keeps Vicky’s demons on the sidelines.
Abhishek Pathak who has produced ‘Bar Code’ under the banner of Panorama Studios – the production house that gave us blockbusters like ‘Raid’ and ‘Drishyam’ – ensures that the show has a top-notch production value. Writer-Director Vignesh Shetty strikes an amazing balance between the pumped-up nightclub scenes and the heart-touching drama between the leads.
There are two major story arcs that act as the backbone of ‘Bar Code’. One is the personal life of Vicky and Sahil, and another is their nightclub life. Shetty handles both of them deftly by introducing plots that test the characters’ emotions and professional skills. And despite a run-time of about 20 minutes per episode, Shetty lets every single scene marinate before taking it to its climax.
Given how the demand for international content has gone up in India, Netflix, Amazon and Hungama are mounting their shows like big-budget movies. For ‘Bar Code’, cinematographers Basha Lal Sayyed does a brilliant job of setting up the environment that’s populated by Vicky and Sahil’s egos. Furthermore, the music holds a lot of importance as well. While ‘Gumrah Taare’ showcases the pulpy atmosphere of the nightclubs that the characters inhabit, ‘Let Go’ mirrors the turmoil they’re going through.