Karmma Calling review: Raveena Tandon’s Revenge adaptation is an enjoyably trashy show with a White Lotus vibe
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A mysterious young woman parachutes into the highly-scented, tightly-knit community of Alibag, that little oasis of privilege and wealth just off Mumbai, and everyone is agog: who is Karmma? Where is she from? How did she manage to buy the large beach house right next to the richest of them all, the Kothari family?
Many hornets in many nests are well and truly astir, and as the sleek, stylish Karmma (Namrata Sheth) starts unpacking her wares– from taking on resident diva Indrani Kothari (Raveena Tandon) who ruled Bollywood in the 90s and is now the undisputed empress of her exclusive little patch, and catching the eye of handsome Kothari scion Ahaan (Varun Sood)– we know that something twitchy this way comes.
The big reveal, a childhood tragedy involving Karmma’s upright father (Rohit Roy) being unjustly implicated in a scam, comes quickly enough. And to begin with, as we get to know the depths of the depravity of some of the main characters, we are sympathetic towards this wounded young woman as she goes after those who ruined her father’s life, and, by extension, hers. But soon enough, as she keeps crossing one line after another, we are forced to ask, just like a character in the series does, how much is too much? How long can she keep doing this without it rebounding?
Mostly, things are kept nicely on the boil in the seven episodes of ‘Karmma Calling’, officially adapted from Mike Kelley’s ‘Revenge’ by series director Ruchi Narain. It is the kind of enjoyably trashy show which revels in its contrivances, and for a change, the cast seems to have gotten the memo: a range of characters keep popping up to keep our interest from flagging, and except for a few places where some slackness creeps in, I kept up with this well-produced, smartly-cast desi tale of revenge-and-retribution.
It has a eating-the-rich ‘White Lotus’ vibe, brightly lit for the most part, going dark for the nasty bits– there are gun-shots and a body-on-the-beach right in the first episode—and things roll out just as they should for daytime soap for dummies. No one will have any difficulty in understanding motives and consequences : ‘Karmma Calling’ is not going for any ambiguities. The actors match the tone and tenor. As the woman with buried vulnerabilities which surface when she looks back, Raveena Tandon has her moments, and clearly her starry persona is the reason the show got green-lit.
It’s the lesser known faces, like Sheth in the lead role of Karmma, the girl who will leave no one unscathed in her quest for revenge, who leave an impact. There’s a pleasing confidence to her Karmma, even though you wish for a bit more modulation in her delivery. Varun Sood as the rich young man who wants to be better, Amy Aela as the girl adamant upon climbing the pole knowing full well just how greasy it can be, Masi Wali as the rich boy’s oily pal also as much on the make, Piyush Khati, last seen in ‘Class’, as the working class youngster who wants make it big, all stand out. A special mention for Viraf Patel, as the campy, clever coot who is the only ally Karmma has: every-time he comes on, things leap up.
Repetitive loops and clunky chunks abound, but I didn’t mind because those are par for the course for a series like this one. The array of swish designer clothes, the scheming monsters who are about to get their comeuppance, and the naked daggers under the sweet smiles : it’s no strain on the brain pulpy viewing, which goes down easy.
Karmma Calling cast: Raveena Tandon, Namrata Sheth, Waluscha, Varun Sood, Rohit Roy, Gaurav Sharma, Viraf Patel, Amy Aela, Masi Wali, Piyush Khati,
Karmma Calling director: Ruchi Narain
Karmma Calling rating: Three stars