‘9 O’Clock’ Web Series Review: This Telugu Crime Drama Undercover Is Partly Intriguing

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The Telugu period crime thriller boasts a good story and an ensemble cast, but needed some sharper scissors

The Telugu period crime thriller boasts a good story and an ensemble cast, but needed some sharper scissors

9 hoursstreaming on Disney+ Hotstar, is the adaptation of the Telugu novel by filmmaker Krish Jagarlamudi Thommidhi Gantalu (nine hours), written by Malladi Venkata Krishnamurthy. Set in the mid-1980s, it tells the story of inmates who are tasked with robbing three banks and must return within nine hours, in time for their next roll call. Krish, who wrote and presented the series, is to be commended for repeatedly delving into Telugu literature for his films, and now his series.

Directed by Niranjan Kaushik and Jacob Verghese, the series features varied and complex characters falling on different sides of the moral compass. There are prisoners who don’t hesitate to harm hostages and those who, given the chance, would opt for a better life. Hostages of different age groups have different morals.

The narrative has a lot to unfold, with the characters’ stories turning into a commentary on relationship dynamics, gender sensitivity, greed and power games.

The story that begins just another day at the bank quickly turns into a hostage drama. A video tape store becomes the police control room for the mission and in the age of pre-mobile phones and high-tech gadgets, walkie-talkies, landlines and public phone booths come into play. As the drama unfolds, we take a closer look at the lives of the characters, some of whom hold a plot.

9 hours

With: Taraka Ratna, Ajay, Madhu Shalini

Director: Niranjan Kaushik, Jacob Verghese

Music: Shakti Kanth Karthick

Broadcast on: Disney+ Hotstar

Taraka Ratna plays an angry cop who happens to be near one of the banks and wants to save the hostages. His ex-wife (Madhu Shalini) is a journalist. The bank manager (Suresh Kumar) who is serving his last day of work before retirement, is pitted against a rookie (Preethi Asrani). A romance is brewing between her and Nandu (Ankith Koyya) at the bank. The others include a middle-aged assistant manager, a woman sexually harassed by a perverted colleague (Venkata Giridhar), and more.

In prison, politics plays out differently and Ajay Ghosh can play an interesting character that gives him the ability to portray a range of emotions. A jailer with an ulterior motive, an elderly cop who weighs his decisions carefully, a newly married young woman and a sex worker who dreams of a better life, are the others in the drama. here

Then there are the cheesy parts, like the one involving a selfish movie star and an up-and-coming actor who lets revenge get the better of him.

Considering the number of characters and their stories, there is a lot at stake. However, everything takes its own time to unravel. It’s one thing to deliberately pace the narrative and quite another to provide no sense of urgency in a crisis.

Gains in the form of twists come quite late and are not enough. Perhaps it was alluring to have nine episodes to live up to the title, but the series could have settled for a liberal cut.

Ajay, Taraka Ratna, Ravi Varma, Madhu Shalini, Preethi Asrani, Ankith and others are adequate in their roles, as is music by Shakthi Kanth Karthick and cinematography by Manoj Reddy.

If the series had been shorter and sharper, it would have made a fascinating watch.

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