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Romance, Riots and Retribution: Hotstar Specials’ Grahan Review

Grahan is a story of love, loss and the search for truth that will leave you engaged and teary-eyed.

Romance, Riots and Retribution: Hotstar Specials’ Grahan Review

Released on 24th June 2021 on Hotstar, Grahan is based on Satya Vyas’s novel, Chaurasi which is a love story set against the backdrop of the anti-Sikh riots in Bokaro in 1984. The show ran into controversy because some Sikhs alleged that Grahan shows Sikhs being involved in looting and killing in the riots. However, after watching the show I can safely say that none of this is true. The sensitive matter of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots has been very empathetically dealt with in Grahan.

Two narratives run in the show- one of a tragic love story in 1984 and the other of an investigation in 2016. This becomes interesting when the investigation gets too personal for the investigating officer, IPS Amrita Singh, because she learns about her father’s involvement in the riots that she is investigating. The father-daughter part of the story was developed by the makers especially for the web series since the novel by Satya Vyas only focuses on the love story.

Grahan takes the viewers through a whirlwind of emotions as it highlights the aftermath of violence in any form. In the beginning, we see a rosy love story that soon turns tragic with the rise of communal tensions in the country. The riots are shown in all their authenticity with ruthlessness, gore, muffled cries and roads full of dead bodies which is overwhelming not only for the audience but also the investigating officers. The show also uncovers the dark politics that goes behind these riots which is nothing less than disturbing to see. Grahan makes a commentary on riots and violence since the show also reflects upon SP Vikas Mandal’s traumatic past marred by the brutality of casteism in India. The effect of violence on the lives of the rioters is also touched upon in the web series. We see how the rioters’ lives also go downhill after the riots.  

Initially, the plot moves a bit slow. In every episode, we’re brought just a small step closer to the truth for it to be completely revealed in the end. Grahan follows a non-linear format of storytelling which keeps the audience invested throughout the show. The web series also has original songs which add to the intensity and mood of the scenes.

There are many characters in Grahan but at no point does the show become confusing. The story of all the characters is interwoven seamlessly with each other which enhances the beauty of the show. Moreover, nearly all the characters are shown with shades of grey which makes them human. The father-daughter relationship of Amrita and Gursevak also comes full circle and leaves viewers emotional at the end. The actors of the show- Zoya Hussain, Pawan Malhotra, Anshuman Pushkar, Wamiqa Gabbi- have done a great job in portraying their characters with all their complexities and nuances.

Grahan offers the viewers the tingling sensation of first love and the harshness of violence in the same show. With romance, action, drama and a whole lot of emotions, Grahan is a must-watch.

Rating: 4/5