The web series Ek Thi Begum is the story of a revenge-seeking widow who lands in the murkier world of underworld gangs set in 1990 Mumbai. Based on the true events that engulfed Bombay which has witnessed the outbreak of many gang wars, the season two of Ek Thi Begum streaming now on MXPlayer digital platform dwells on the travails of Ashraf whose only mission is to avenge the death of her spouse which takes several turns ensconced by many turns.
It starts where it was left in the first season with Ashraf (Anuja Sathe) surviving the attempt on her life and gets a new name Leela Paswan and starts a new life to mislead all her detractors.
Ashraf alias Leela Paswan joins hands with the upcoming gangster Ashwin Surve (Hitesh Bhoraj) who went on to win the blessings of Chief Minister Yashwantrao Patil (Sandeep Mehta).
Inspector Bhosale (Chinmay Mandlekar) who was branded as a traitor by his own department had a spat with ACP Qureshi resulting in his suspension. Qureshi was hellbent on getting the file purportedly having all the information about the illegal ‘dandas’ and people behind them and uses Bhosale to track Ashraf who is having the file in her custody.
Ashraf switches roles yet again to join Shaqeel Ansari (Sahab Ali) as he was the right person to taker her nearer to Maqsood (Ajay Gehi), the kingpin and her ultimate target.
How did she accomplish her mission and what are the challenges faced by her to reach her target was the remaining story of Ek Thi Begum Season 2.
Anuja Sathe showed more confidence and maturity in her performance than in the first season. But the lopsided writing has let down the character badly as the emotional quotient that was present behind her mission could not be presented effectively except in the climax. As a result, the characters of Anita Surve, Ashwin Surve, Bhai Chavan, and Qureshi got more mileage as well as recognition.
Similar was the fate of the character of Bhosale who has become another victim of shabby writing. His love for Ashraf, his helplessness, and his conflict were underplayed so his character was left like a filler rather than a key one.
Among all others, full marks to Sauraseni Maitra for her brilliant portrayal of the character of Anita Surve which got different shades. The variation showed by her in two shades was amazing.
Then Vijay Nikam who played the character of Bhai Chavan looked authentic to the core as if he was the typical don of the underworld.
Rajendra Shisatkar as Nana Mhatre, Purnanada Wandekar as Vardha Pillay, Mir Sarwar as Nari Khan, Resham as Anjali, Nazar Khan as Rashid, Arpita Ghogardare as Nisha Gaikwad along with Lokesh Gupte, Sahab Ali, and Sandeep Patil were excellent in their characters.
Behind the scenes
The convoluted writing has taken its toll as except for the lead character, all other characters got brighter moments to perform and prove. Barring the climax and Himachal block, the character of the female protagonist failed to impress despite the sincere effort by Anuja.
Too many characters and different tracks have made the series lost its direction. Also, the characters like Anjali and Patil were left in the dark without any conclusion. Is this an indication that there might be another season probably with the reincarnation of Ashraf Bhatkar and Zaheer Bhatkar?
The production designing by Santosh Suresh Phutane was top-notch for its authentic recreation of the 1990s environment lined up with vintage Ambassadors, and other props that added more grandeur to the whole setting.
Ek Thi Begum was an extended slugfest with few bright moments. The Himachal episode and the transformation of Anita Surve were handled pretty well by Sachin Darekar, the director.
Though the premise was apt and the setting was perfect, the absence of engaging moments and emotional touch because of the inept storytelling along with the length that got extended to 12-episodes was another deterring factor that made Ek Thi Begum a spiritless series.