Series Reviewed – Typewriter (Netflix Original)
An Indian horror series that is actually scary.
It had been a really long time since I watched an Indian production that was actually effective with its scary scenes. Before I watched Typewriter, I used to think that Indian productions are not scary enough because of their overuse of cliches. However, interestingly, Typewriter creators used multiple cliches and typical gimmicks and yet managed to make them work into making a really scary series.
With a deep and almost tight plot and highly relatable or lovable characters, the writers manage to keep me hooked to the substance of the visual presentation. That is probably what made me not only accept the typical horror scenes but also be affected and be actually scared by them.
Typewriter opens with a wealthy writer Madhav Matthews with a personality that only Kanwaljit Singh can pull off. This actor has an aura of royalty style to the screen. So kudos to Mukesh Chabra Casting Company for casting him and to the director Sujoy Ghosh for using this resource so intelligently.
Warning - Following four paragraphs contain spoilers. So you can skip ahead if you wish.
Unfortunately, Kanwaljit’s character Madhav Mathews dies in the first few minutes of the first episode and he only returns much later in a really long series of flashbacks.
However, the scene of Madhav’s death sets the tone of the entire series. This is where the makers of typewriter clarify that typewriter series will be filled with cliches that pan out into exceptional twists. Thus, making the cliches interesting too.
The moments leading up to Mathew’s death are the textbook build-up for a horror scene. However, the scene climaxes with such unanticipated and unexpected twist that I literally hit the pause button and applauded the scene design.
Thereon, typewriter series revolves around a book ‘Ghost of Sultanpore’ that Madhav had started writing the night he died. And yet somehow, the book was completed and published; presumably by the ghost that killed Madhav.
Spoilers end here.
Typewriter opens with a predictable introduction but takes an unexpected turn and thereon, the plot keeps thickening through each episode.
The writers have somehow managed to blend the khichadi of previously tried and tested horror storytelling gimmicks and pleasantly fresh elements of their own into a typical-atypical horror series that actually is scary.
However, when it comes to visual storytelling, even great plots need talented actors to do justice to the writing.
Typewriter’s crew is certainly filled with a good ensemble of talented actors who when directed by an informed writer-director like Sujoy Ghosh have successfully brought the emotionally complex characters to life.
However, what really surprised me is the portrayal of Sam by Aarnaa Sharma. The writers of Typewriter have built the character with considerable emotional depth, complicated motivations and an almost self-centred egotistical nature; all housed in a body of a school-going kid. However, Aarnaa has done a fantastic job with making this character feel real and even lovable at times.
Purab Kohli‘s character inspector Ravi Anand is that of a small-town policeman who is also dealing with being a widower father of a complicated kid. Though the character could have been played with immense loudness. However, Kohli brings such an excellent atypical approach to playing the character that I was sad he is not the protagonist of the typewriter series.
Typewriter is a series which thankfully is not defined by the narrow Bollywood interpretation of the horror genre that films like Kaal and Vastushastra presented. Instead, this is a well written, thoughtfully constructed and brilliantly filmed horror series that deserves respect and love for having the ability to scare even adults despite its children’s story-like structure.
However, I also did spot many plotholes in the fist season that though add a dramatic effect to the sense, create tiny discrepancies in storytelling.
Though these errors are not huge enough to undermine the otherwise brilliant writing, these potholes did make me wonder whether the script supervisor Vasundhara Koshy missed them or did the filmmakers decided to take the directorial freedom for the sake of dramatic impact.
The first plot hole appears when the Ghost (in form of Jenny) kills Maria Lopes (Meenacshi Martins). The addressed Maria in Konkani language adding to the scary dramatics of the scene. However, neither Jenny (Palomi Ghosh) nor Fakeer (Abhishek Banerjee) who created the Jenny-form of the Ghost speak Konkani language (or so the series led me into believing). So how did the ghost magically began speaking the language?
The second one is more of a character discrepancy more than a plot hole. Fakeer’s mother Charu’s (Sonali Sachdev) character is presented to be that of a pious and inherently good soul. a character that uses superpowers only to help others and refrains from using it for personal gains even if that means she and her son has to live in a hut, like beggars.
A character with such integrity simply can not change one’s belief systems in an instant and murder someone brutally. Similarly, the son of such a good-natured and principled person does not turn into an egotistical monster simply because his mother said so; especially when this person has a family of his own with a wife and a young child.