Joined: 04 January 2012
I hope you like this title for yesterday's episode, for it fits both Leena Samant and Mary Fernandes to a T. For both these women, their ugly past catches up with them. As Chotu says, Leena pays for her sins, and her being a loving and protective mother changes nothing in this. So does Mary, and so justice is done, after a fashion. This is what the ancient Greeks called nemesis (in their pantheon, Nemesis was the goddess of retribution).
In this gloomy tale, there is hardly any good to be found (outside the ETF). Both the murder victims were themselves criminals in their earlier days, nor is there any trace of repentance in either. Leena lives happily off the proceeds of a bank robbery, and Mary on her earnings from the foul drug trade (which is, in effect, mass murder), using them for her beauty salon. Their common boyfriend, Bruce Braganza, is a hardened and unrepentant gang leader, killer and supari-giver. To cap it all, the murder culprit turns out to be a serving police officer moonlighting (doing another job apart from his regular one) as a contract killer!
It is really more like a Raymond Chandler or James Hadley Chase novel than the usual TV crime story. The sole representative of innocence, the young Chitra aka Mona, is saddled with a genetic inheritance of the worst kind, as her parents are a thug-cum-murderer and a gangster's moll-cum-thief. It cannot get much blacker than this, would you not agree? This is not a criticism, but rather a compliment to the writers, who are obviously not afraid to probe the dark corners of human nature.
I also see that many of you feel that the episode felt incomplete and that, as in the case of the pseudo-Naxalite kidnapping case, the ending seemed rushed and too pat. Part of this is true, but I feel that there is much to be found here that is important for the series as a whole, in terms of character development and the relationships within the ETF. So I would request you to join me as we analyse these aspects.
To begin with, Arjun's unique powers of observation and deduction are on full display here. It is thanks to him that all the key elements in this case come to light: the cash hoard in Leena's spare water tank, the vital importance of the stick it note with the number 1001.90/ on it, and its real meaning, the link between Mary and Leena, and the location of Bruce's new target in Mumbai. That he happens to smear his finger with butter, has to wash his hand, and the dry water tap in the washbasin then leads him to the cash, is one of those lucky chances that Providence provides for the best detectives! Now for the rest.
Arjun clearly dominant: While Rathore had seemed to be coming into his own in the last Checkmate episode, playing a crucial if not the decisive role in solving the case, here Arjun dominates visibly at every juncture, so much so that it seems at times as if he is heading the ETF! Rathore is practically overruled by Arjun repeatedly. When he says that the money found in the flat could not be traced as Shikha was making all her payments in cash, Arjun immediately states the opposite, and instructs Shree to trace the source of the Rs.2.6 crores. Shree duly does this, linking the money to an old unsolved bank robbery. Next, Arjun practically instructs Rathore to have the source of the rare drugs traced, and then himself orders Chotu to get this done thru his informers. When Rathore sees no link between the two murders, other than that the loot found in Shikha's flat had come from a bank robbery in which Mary was involved (he forgets the identical drugs used in both cases), Arjun immediately contradicts him, by patching together the 2 halves of the photo of Mary, Leena and the baby, with his trademark Samjhe ys samjhaun? (an impertinent habit that the writers would do well to drop, especially when it is directed at the ETF chief).
While Rathore decides to split the ETF into 2 teams to work separately on the 2 murders (his saying Is that clear? is unsual, and seems to be an attempt to reassert his authority), the fact is that Arjun uses both Shree and Chotu continuously thereafter. Who is then left to work with Rathore? No one, and he is seen doing next to nothing in the rest of the case. All the crucial interactions with SSI Damle. For example, are done solo by Arjun.
When Rathore, ever the conventional police officer and man of action, wants to raid Bruce's habitual addas to try to nab him, Arjun insists on going to the BKB complex housing the new diamond trading offices, which he sees as the only likely target. Though this seems to an inspired guess, not a deduction based on facts, he proves to be correct. However, repeated instances like this one make Rathore look ineffective, and undercut his authority over the team.
There is a brief moment of like-mindedness when Rathore approves of Arjun's idea of tracking down drug overdose cases with the same cocktail of drugs used on Mona, but that is about it.
This is not to suggest that Arjun is trying actively to sideline Rathore, and he is the main lead, after all. Still, if the show is not to become completely one-sided and Rathore is not to look largely irrelevant, which will hurt the show, the writers need to do a balancing act soon. The ETF is a team, and it should be shown functioning as a team, not as a one man show. Rathore and Arjun need to be shown as moving, even if slowly, towards a mutually tolerant and co-operative relationship.Rathore stood up for Arjun and saved him from being suspended for having attacked Pathan; now Arjun should reciprocate.
Chotu's back story: This comes out of the blue, and is as surprising as it is moving. It produces a rare moment of concern and warmth from Arjun ' he puts his hand comfortingly on Chotu's shoulder ' and Chotu feels reassured enough to respond likewise. Later Arjun also asks Chotu to be the first to break the news of her mother's death to Mona. The main purpose of this back story seems to be to bring home to Arjun that there are others in the ETF who too have suffered personal trauma, if not as great as his with Roshni, then at least approaching it in gravity. This should indirectly help him cope better with his own loss and suffering. I am also sure, going by Shaleen's recent remarks about Arjun, that every character here has a back story (barring Riya, unfortunately), that Rathore has one too, which might be as bad in its own way as Arjun's. The difference is that Rathore is far more stoic than Arjun and never betrays his feelings, focusing on being a conscientious and responsible ETF chief.
Moral ambivalence: This is a story of varying shades of black, with very little white. So the villainy is a matter of degree. Arjun is of course totally justified in raging at SSI Damle for being a blot on the reputation of a police force which has any number of honest and efficient officers. What Damle does, out of sheer greed, is totally criminal, and is that much worse because he is police officer, duty bound to uphold the law, not to break it so badly. He deserves the harshest possible punishment.
But look at the other side. Mary Fernandes was a longstanding and large scale drug peddler, and in a country where the penalty for this kind of crime is capital punishment, as in Malaysia, she would have been executed without question. Leena has been with Bruce in all his criminal activities, very likely including murder, and if she had been caught, she would have gone to jail for life. Instead, she leads a quiet life for over 20 years before the long shadows of her old sins catch up with her, and she is forced to commit suicide. Should one feel sorry for her just because she ends up like this, and for Mary just because she is forced to swallow a deathly dose of the same drugs that she sold, which ruined so many lives in the old days? I think not.
There was also an instance of dismaying moral ambivalence, this time concerning the ETF. A police officer can kill in the line of duty, but only when there is no other option. In India, they are far stricter about the unnecessary use of force than, say, in the New York Police, who can shoot as soon as their target resists arrest (as in the infamous Diallo case, where an unarmed Somalian was shot 41 times by several NYPD officers). But here, the ETF indulges in a spectacular, no holds barred shoot out straightaway, as soon as Bruce produces his gun. (However, those slowmo aerial acrobatics by Rathore, looking his best in sheer black, were a visual and aesthetic delight!) Then Chotu, having shot one of the thugs in the chest, then puts his gun into his mouth and finishes him off. Though the victim was clearly a thug, it was a shocking act, and if there had been any witnesses to it, Chotu would have been arrested on a murder charge.
He has never before been shown to be so violent, and probably the idea that it was this gang that was responsible for Leena being murdered, and Mona almost killed as well, must have preyed on his mind. But that cannot possibly excuse what he is shown as dping, and the CVs should never have shown this scene in that manner.
Question marks and mistakes: How did Damle locate and steal Rs.2 crores from the cash hoard in the water tank? Did he discover it by chance, and if so, why did he not take the whole of it?
If Mary worked with Leena in stealing the Rs.6 crores and then helped her to disappear, surely she would have taken a share of the loot? Why was Leena able to keep the whole? And what did she spend R.1.4 crores on, seeing that she had not bought her flat but only rented it?
How did the security guards not see Damle come into the building that night? They tell the ETF that no one came.
Why was that photo of the three - Leena, her baby and Mary - cut into two parts, and why did Leena and Mary each keep the part showing herself, and not the other, as would have been logical if it was a memento?
The couple of mistakes were minor: Rathore, after examining Shikha's documents, notes that her passport and PAN card (used for income tax purposes) were obtained in November-December 2011, whereas the date on the passport is clearly seen to be September 10, 2011. More seriously, Arjun states that Mona is Chitra, since both had the same year of birth, 1996, which is ridiculous. The fact os that both had the same date of birth, Febrary 2, 1996, which is the clinching factor.
Sole glimpse of hope: At the end, there is a slight silver lining among all this darkness, as Mona finds a safe refuge with her dadi, Bruce's mother Jenny Braganza. It should make Chotu feel a bit better, though what he should really pray for is in spite of her having such parents, and a father in jail for the rest of his life to boot, Mona still manages to live a normal, simple life.
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