The last few years have been really good for Indian audience craving quality content. Whereas earlier we mostly had the same old predictable plotlines and cheesy romance stories, today the entertainment industry has grown to capture much more acute subjects from our day to day life. While we still enjoy the occasional masala and magic of Bollywood, today we appreciate genuine storytelling in a manner that touches the raw pulse of our nation. Like the Hungama Original, Hankaar.
Hankaar is an intense drama series highlighting the seedy underbelly of our country’s most glamorous city, Mumbai.
The series revolves around five individuals unrelated to each other at first glance. Just your regular Mumbaikars, each from a different class of the society.
The only common trait they share is one every Mumbaikar can relate to. The dream of making it big in the City Of Dreams. In this pursuit, they are willing to navigate through the grey areas between right and wrong if needed.
However, what they do not realise is that they are just characters in a plot crafted by the dreaded underworld don, Z.
For Z, Mumbai and its residents are but merely the stage and puppets in his narrative. Z played by Ujjwal Chopra, successfully controls all facets of the city. Every major criminal syndicate in the city leads back to him and in one way or the other, every citizen will have felt his impact on their lives.
Hankaar follows the lives of Nisha, Pradeep, James, Mangesh and Joy, 5 individuals unaware of their interlinked fates.
Each of these characters could be someone you sit next to in a metro. Or someone you pass by as you take a stroll through Marine Drive. Like Pradeep, played by the brilliant Rajesh Balwani, an everyday real estate agent with ambitious career goals. Or Joy(Ram Menon), the 30-something meek techie extraordinaire. These people are not among the rich and famous, but they are just as much a part of the city. The part that gets lost or often hidden in the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps.
Take Nisha for example. Brought on screen by Yogini Chouk Borhade, she is a prostitute’s daughter who has made it her life mission to rescue victims of child and sex trafficking.
Her story puts the spotlight on the not so discreet flesh trade running in the streets of Mumbai, to which it has always turned a blind eye.
Though a fictional show, the reality is that stories like Nisha’s are, in fact, happening around us. Just this year alone, NGOs and the Mumbai Police have busted numerous such rackets. Last month a high-profile sex racket involving two top models operating in the Goregoan vicinity was busted on the basis of a tip-off. According to reports, the operatives would share photographs of actors and models to their prospective clients via social media. Once the deal was confirmed the said models and actors would charge anywhere between ₹50,000 to ₹1 lakh per assignment.
Another aspect of the city none of us can deny is the existence of a drug mafia. Through friends or colleagues or however, we’ve heard of people like James. He is the quintessential drug addict. Sharda Nand Singh shows his character arch go from being a customer to wanting to be a dealer. He is a reminder of the drug cartels flourishing right under the noses of officials in the city.
As much as they’d want us to believe these mafias have been contained, the truth is, despite continuous efforts by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), recent busts have revealed that they have been slipping through’s law’s fingers by constantly switching up their modus operandi.
Speaking to the Indian Express, the NCB zonal director, Sanjay Jha describes how in the past apprehending the courier would lead them to the receiver. Factoring this weak link, the drug cartel has now adopted a new modus operandi wherein the information of the receiver is no longer shared with the courier. Rather, he is only assigned the task of ferrying the consignment, until the source gets in touch with him. According to reports, these cartels have also been spreading to other parts of the country recently, like Hyderabad.
Through an unfiltered lens, Hankaar brings to the viewer a new dimension to Mumbai and presents the city in a manner never seen before.
The mainstream media has a tendency to focus on one of two sides of Mumbai. The glamorous allure of Bollywood or the Slum Dog Millionaire version of the Mumbai slums. What Hankaar does, is take you into the intricacies of both of these classes and shine light on the prostitution rings, drug mafias and organized crime syndicates that usually slip under the radar.
And let’s be real. Mumbai does have a seriously shady underbelly which it hides behind all the glitz and glamour of its entertainment industry.
While the organised crime syndicate may not be as pronounced as the mid-nineties when Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan shook the city with their friendship that later turned into a rivalry, vestiges of the infamous underworld still haunt the city and its residents. The role of Mangesh(Prammod Sanghi), a speech-impaired man from the slums, fighting tooth and nail to get to the big city, is a testimony to this reality.
Hankaar weaves a fictional plot to prompt us to think about all these issues; the reality about Mumbai that’s been hidden for so long.
The series, with its raw format shot at actual locations in Mumbai and Germany, is as close to reality as it gets. Under Sanjay Bhatia, Ravi Iyer and Yogi Chopra’s direction, it leaves us thinking- are our lives really ours or is someone secretly trying to control us?
Watch the trailer here to get a peek at what the show has to offer:
Got your interest piqued, didn’t it? Tune into Hungama Play to see more of this unseen side of Mumbai with ‘Hankaar’.
TLDR: Don’t miss it.