Writer-director Tigmanshu Dhulia's latest offering, Garmi, has all the elements of a simmering potboiler. Corruption? Check. Violence? Check. Murder? Check. Police excesses? Check. A liberal use of profanity? Check. Romance? Check. Yet, something is missing that fails to turn the flame into a fire. Ultimately, the lack of substance cannot be compensated by the surface coating. The SonyLIV series revolves around campus politics, with student leaders, cynical mentors and criminals forming its murky matrix.
The protagonist Arvind Shukla (Vyom Yadav) is the son of a retired headmaster. He joins the political science department of the Trivenipur University wanting to become a civil servant, but his determination to stand up for his beliefs costs him dearly, even as it increases his popularity among the students. Ultimately, he gets embroiled in student politics, which is dominated by two major players: Bindu Singh (Puneet Singh) who, with the help of a local police officer, is working for the dominance of the Thakurs, and Govind Maurya (Anurag Thakur), who has the backing of the OBCs. Then there is the king-maker, Bairagi Baba (Vineet Kumar).
The plot gathers steam only by the fifth episode of the nine-episode series. The length of the episodes could easily have been slashed to avoid the lag. As the story progresses, Arvind makes foes as fast as he makes friends. The cinematography, highlighting the grit and grime of UP politics, is note-worthy. The soundtrack, however, lacks finesse. Using rock music for action scenes does not work. The best part of the series might be the performances of Yadav and Thakur. They play off against other, with the rising popularity of one instigating the green-eyed monster in the other. If you feel a bit fatigued after a while with Arvind's struggles to stay afloat in politics, it is more the fault of the writing. No virtuoso can make a good music out of a mediocre score.
Arvind fits the mould of the angry young man perfectly, except that after a while it is the viewers who begin to get vexed. Not just with the plot or the writing, but also with the testosterone overdose. However, in its favour, the women in Garmi, though few, are no pushovers. Surbhi (Disha Thakur) and Ruchita (Anushka Kaushik) have verve and vitality. One only wishes that the show did, too.