Saas, Bahu Aur Flamingo Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
There is no shortage of crime dramas in the OTT space now. Almost every other day, we get to see different aspects of the criminal world being explored by filmmakers, allowing us to enjoy them from their perspective. If you ask me, this is one genre that has been oversaturated for the past few years, but occasionally you come across a show or a movie in this genre that shakes you to the core. Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo does not fall into the latter category, but it surely began with that intent. Created by Homi Adajania, this eight-episodic show is a Disney Hotstar Original that is all about women and the control they have over a crime syndicate that has been going on for years, unbeknownst to many. How long will the women manage to keep their secret lives away from the limelight?
Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo begins with Bijli, one of the key characters in the show, heading out of a high-profile party after making sure her product, Flamingo, reaches the customers. The woman reaches her hometown of Hastipur in the state of Rann Pradesh, modeled after a certain dessert-laden state of our country, where Bijli lives with her sisters-in-law, Kajal and Shanta. Their boss is Savitri, Kajal and Bijli’s mother-in-law, and Shanta’s mother. The entire drug syndicate in western India, known as the golden ring, is operated by Savitri, who is fondly known as Rani Ba. The woman supplies cocaine under the guise of selling handicrafts and herbs through her company, Rani Cooperative. The system has been going on for years, and no obstacle as such would hinder their chain of hierarchy in the business of narcotics. Flamingo is the name of the drug that they supply, and so far, it has been their biggest-selling product. What could go wrong? All sorts of things could. The drug syndicates from the eastern and southern parts of India are deeply affected by Flamingo’s success, and Monk, a drug kingpin as powerful as Savitri, wants to bring her business to an end.
The biggest selling point of Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo is that Savitri’s business was started by women, and years later, it is still the women who run the show, including Kajal, Bijli, and Shanta. Kajal manages the sales part along with keeping the women workers in check; Bijli does the accounts and handling of the money that comes in and goes out; and Shanta is the one who understands the overall components of Flamingo. The boss lady has kept her sons, Harish and Kapil, away from this life of danger. Her sons initially had no connection with the world their mother lived in. What would happen if they were made aware of the fact that their mother is a drug supplier and not a handicraft entrepreneur?
Savitri now must decide who will take over her business, and she is keen on choosing the right heir for the massive syndicate she has created. She has decided to announce her heir on the day of Janmashtami. Just like any other dysfunctional family, this one, too, goes into a frenzy and is hungry for the power that comes with being the boss of the syndicate. Impressing Savitri would be one thing, but thinking ahead for the future of the business is another. How will Savitri, fondly known as Rani Ba, choose her heir? Is this her plan to unearth some awful secrets about her family?
Homi Adajania came up with quite the ingenious story of the biggest syndicate in the country being run by women, and these women would go to any extent to safeguard their livelihood. I’m not sure if it is based on any true stories from our country, but it helps to understand the power Savitri has over the women she hires. These women are not different from any other drug syndicate. They want their business to sustain itself regardless of whoever runs it and want to make sure their circle remains tight, and nothing is leaked about the work that has been going on for years. But behind all this wealth and power is the story of a dysfunctional family where every family member carries their motives of wanting power after Savitri steps down. Savitri, by the looks of it, too, had a dream of leading her life a certain way, but destiny had other plans for her. With glory and power right in her hands, she would now want to live her life for herself and not strive for survival, as she has been doing for decades.
What Homi Adajania got right is that the dark humor is layered beautifully with the narrative and the screenplay. None of it seems forced in any way. The constant banter between the brothers Harish and Kapil, who are always on two edges of the spectrum, Harish is in awe of the treasure he has discovered, but Kapil is disgusted to see power being used erratically, something the man is not used to. Their character arc is explored with nuances and complexities, which is interesting to watch and understand as one of them manages to go to the dark side unexpectedly. I like the Michael Corleone shade given to that character. Homi Adajania, who is known for giving us out-of-the-box stories, attempts to do the same here but kind of loses momentum as the series concludes. A good crime drama suddenly became marred by rushed-out climax sequences and many characters not getting proper closures. Unless there is a second season announced for this show, it would be an adversity to let these characters hang by a thread. The screenplay began with an idea, but halfway through, it became aimless. A narcotics investigation officer from Mumbai—what was the fate of his character? How was he able to get to Savitri as the leading drug lord in the country? I also wanted to see the conflict the daughter and the daughters-in-law had with Savitri, for there were scenes of women claiming to have issues with the life they lead here, but it was not dealt with. How are the audiences supposed to understand their dynamics when all we can see is that the women are given a chance to voice their opinion, but the characters state something different? A contradiction and plot loophole that was not touched upon.
The whole point of a crime drama is to showcase every character, including the leads, with layers of complexity unfolded subtly. Savitri, too, has a darker side, which does not come through in the screenplay because it is rushed, and the viewers do not have time to comprehend the information. The complexity must come through in scenes where we can watch and understand Savitri’s dark side, which many don’t get to see. The creators did not try to expand upon it. Just having a woman lead the gang would seem to catch viewers’ attention in the beginning, but the job of selling narrative does not end there. The writer’s job is to make the narrative believable and winsome. Monk, the antagonist on the show, also had nothing going for him. It felt like his inclusion as the antagonist was just for the sake of it. His intentions, his rivalry, and his origin story could have been included to understand the man in action and his purpose in life. Though Deepak Dobriyal, being a good actor, adds a layer to this character, the character had the potential to become the most despicable man, with Deepak acing the role to perfection.
The cinematography of this show is exquisite because it is in no mood to show us the colorful landscape. It is barren, gritty, and devoid of nature, which explains the lives of the women who work there. The women are so engrossed in the work that they are eventually no longer in touch with what they want in life and are just power-hungry. Frustrated men and women find it difficult to seek pleasure and love, and the cinematography department did an excellent job of letting the viewer understand the state they are in through such nuanced shots. “Saas, Bahu, Aur Flamingo” felt like an extension and an enhanced version of the camerawork we saw in Thar. The production design also stands out because the clothes and the home create an atmosphere of the rustic lives that they lead. It is hard to look away from this sense of power the women exude as we see them in their traditional clothes carrying out dangerous work.
The direction begins with making this show seem distinct, but that intent does not last long. The flaky screenplay disrupted the direction because, after a point, it was not easy to follow where the narrative was heading. The scenes that talk about the relationship that Shanta and Deeman share are confusing and not easy to comprehend by the end of the show. The penultimate showdown between the two rivals was shot lazily. The entire sequence was added just to showcase the warrior side of these women, but it ended up seeming very forced. There was no buildup to this scene or any tension that was created to amp up the drama.
The performances of all the actors in this show do not disappoint at all, despite having a dodgy screenplay to work with. Dimple Kapadia, as the boss lady, is excellent from the beginning. Dimple lives and breathes Savitri. But it would have been excellent to watch her showcase a malicious version of herself, which was not explored well, on account of the screenplay. Hopefully, we will get to see that in the second season if it is announced. Isha Talwar as Bijli, Angira Dhar as Kajal, and Radhika Madan as Shanta are fantastic, too, as women who seek to be themselves in a society that does not allow women to grow or live by their choices. These women are people who should seek to be, conflicted but resilient. Ashish Verma as Harish and Varun Mitra as Kapil steal the show for the kind of dynamics they share. That’s some excellent writing there. Kapil’s transformation was an unexpected arc, but it was not given a definite conclusion. I’m excited to see more of Kapil in the next season if it is announced. Ashish Verma, as Harish, is despicable, but he knows what his capabilities are as the only man in the family who remains in constant amazement. I wish Naseeruddin Shah had more to give in this show, keeping in mind the doyen that he is. Deepak Dobriyal could have been easily the best villain, but he wasn’t, thanks to some flawed writing. Also, casting a Hindi-speaking actor to play a Malayalee character is a big no. Why couldn’t the makers cast an actor from Kerala?
Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo begins with a good premise and editing, but somewhere it got lost in need to aim for the Hindi commercial market by ending it with a convoluted climax. The performances, the soundtrack, the superb costumes, production design, and the brilliant cinematography are some of the main reasons that make the show engaging throughout. Overall, it is a frustratingly good show.