Mythology has always been sacred but mysterious. Our spiritual writings have a sea of knowledge and there is so much to learn about. Voot’s new web series Asur (2020) gives us a mystical taste of Indian Mythology. Honestly, this is a surprise from Voot (probably the best from them so far). In the time when Netflix inches towards a monopoly, this is a must watch if you are looking forward to a good time. Asur (translation: The Devil) is a psychological crime thriller starring Arshad Warsi, Barun Sobti and Vishesh Bansal in pivotal rules. It follows the story of two characters Nikhil Nair (Barun Sobti) and Dhananjay Rajput(Arshad Warsi) as they investigate serial murders around the country. This may have been another case of a serial killer but their lives change when they find that the murders carry a deeper point and that both of them are linked personally to the killer. Their lives continue to change as the number of murders begins to increase and they realise that they are more involved in this than they thought. They are eventually led to a young boy Shubh (Vishesh Bansal) whom they had met years back.
Asur is one of the most well thought and fresh web series in India. It’s a perfect balance of spirituality and thrill. It makes a deep point of the realities of the modern day world. It takes inspiration from the concepts of the four stages the world goes through as a part of the ‘cycle of yugas‘ as described in the manuscripts. Asur show this, the light of modern world and weaves a plot around it. The motives of the antagonist is more than just the pleasures of violence, it’s his mission to free the world of chaos brought by Kaliyuga. The antagonist preaches the devil and has a different take on it. To him, he is the life saver, the one who will bring the necessary changes in the world. The antagonist believes himself as the modern day incarnation of Kalki, the one who will bring wrath upon the world and end this stage of Kaliyuga. These intentions don’t typecast him as a man with simply evil intentions instead we are allowed to draw our own conclusion about his motives.
One thing which compliments the plot is the emphasis given to the details. It does not provide the hollow spectacle of spirituality but gives out valid explanations and references. Every murder is well planned and well thought out. The references from the Mythology are interesting yet authentic. This is important to connect with the story and the atmosphere it creates. It holds the audience by providing justifications. With Asur these details hold the attention of the viewers and keep them engaged to the very end. Every twist and turn is well justified. It gives some references to the historical literature of the Hindu mythology. Also the murders are planned to be technically accurate.
Asur doesn’t fall heavy on the right or the wrong side. It provides equal justification to both of them. One side wants you to sympathize with the lives being lost, the other wants you to question the price of these lives and if it is really worth saving. Taking this into consideration Asur is thought provoking. On one side protagonists are trying to connect personally to the lives being lost but the antagonists are trying see the bigger picture. It can be said that Asur slightly dissolves the concepts of antagonists and protagonists. This is one of the strongest points of the story. It doesn’t portray the characters merely as black and white. It lets the viewer’s choose the side they want to be upon. The character Dhananjay Rajput is on the right side but you’ll question his decisions of past. You’ll also sympathize for his loss. Also Shubh ( Vishesh Bansal) carries evil intentions but he gets sympathy for his troubled childhood and his relationship with his father.
Varanasi has always provided a mystical setting to its stories. It feels perfect for the antagonist’s origin to take place in Varanasi. The ghats, the boats, the babas, the ash, all of this give a treat to the eyes. These are used well to give the sense of horror to it. It transports us to the ghats and allows us to live the horror. This is backed by good background score which gives the perfect vibe of this ancient city and its mystical nature. Here we see the origin of the antagonist. Though he is young he is still intimidating and we are engaged to know more. Later we get to know about his childhood and his relationship with his father. Asur gives broader emphasis on the character of the antagonist and at some point you’ll feel this story is more about Shubh than Nikhil or Dhananjay. We see his rise and he seems to be in control and dominating till the end. We see him getting inclined to his beliefs as he gets older. This motivates him to accept his existence as more than just a normal human being but someone who is assigned a more important job which will bring greater good to the world.
It doesn’t end on a happy note. It ends with Nikhil having to pay a huge price to stop the madness. The ending leaves lot of questions in the viewer’s mind. We want to know more about the period he spends disconnected to the world, this leaves a chance for a second season. Asur doesn’t boast a big recognized cast but is well justified by each characters. Each character plays their part well; in fact this brings a sense of freshness to it. Also it doesn’t feature over the top dialogues, it gets loose sometimes but it doesn’t breaks the suspense or allow the viewers to get distracted. In simple terms, Asur doesn’t disappoint.