Murder In Mahim Review: Must Watch

Among the many reasons to watch Murder In Mahim is that it may be a chance to wipe out — if it is achievable by a Web series — the air of judgment towards those who do not conform to the majority’s idea of normal, asserts Deepa Gahlot.


It could be seen as a small sign of progress or inclusivity that a series based on Jerry Pinto’s novel Murder In Mahim has been turned into a Web show.

It’s not just that the gay issue is highlighted in the book and series — these days OTT audiences are used to homosexual characters — but the way the plot unfolds challenges viewers to examine their own prejudices.

The novel is set against the legal tangle involving Article 377 that criminalised homosexuality.

It could only have been set in Mumbai, where people may be shocked by gays but are also strangely accepting in an ‘as long as it’s not in my home’ manner.

Also, the urban educated middle class wants to see itself as liberal, at least in public.

In private, a woman tells her husband to ‘do something’ when she discovers that her son may be gay, and says ‘sprinkle holy water afterwards’ when the son invites a gay sex worker home. The parents are too apprehensive to even broach the subject with their son because they do not have the right words and are afraid of facing the truth.

Since most cops come from the same middle or working class milieu, they carry these biases into their workplaces — the ‘good’ ones referring to them as ‘gud log‘, the ‘bad ones’ honey-trapping and blackmailing gay men.

Still, it is probably only in Mumbai that the cops would even investigate the murder of a gay sex worker sincerely, and not close the file as soon as possible.

Shivajirao Jende (Vijay Raaz) is an honest cop with anger issues, whose father (Shivaji Satam) had been exposed as corrupt in the past by his journalist friend, Peter Fernandes (Ashutosh Rana).

Their paths cross again with a young man named Proxy is found mutilated and murdered in the public toilet of Mahim railway station.

The name of his next victim is etched on the dead man’s arm.

Jende and his earnest assistant, Firdaus Rabbani (Shivani Raghuvanshi) have just about started investigating this murder when another gay man is found dead, also at Mahim station and they realise they may be looking at a serial killer, who leaves the names of his next target on the corpse.

When the next two murders hit too close to home, Jende has to answer to his seething superior (Umesh Jagtap), who demands results immediately. A section of the gay community protests outside the station and the media are spewing vitriol.

Fernandes and his wife Millie (Divya Jagdale) have just seen their son Sunil (Rohan Verma) on television, participating in the protest with gays, and are worried.

Peter is retired but has not lost his journalistic instincts.

He starts probing the cases on his own, and does a much better job than Jende, who could use all the help he can get.

Peter approaches his gay brother-in-law Leslie (Rajesh Khattar) for insights into the subculture that is alien to him.

Directed by Raj Acharya and written by Mustafa Neemuchwala and Udai Singh Pawar, the whodunit part of the plot keeps more of a backdrop to the unravelling of the lives of the characters: Fernandes unable to reach across to his son; Jende’s constant troubles with his cantankerous father and adolescent son; Firdaus is trying to come to terms with her own secret and using her job as a way to keep the inevitable family explosion at bay.

Involved in the mystery is a young man, Unit (Ashitosh Gaikwad), whose dialogue with Peter, when they are both spending a night in jail, opens the older man’s eyes to the loneliness and desperation of gays that leads them to furtive encounters in filthy public toilets.

What can they do, as Leslie says, when loving someone is a crime?

Surrounded by some fine performances by Raghuvanshi, Gaikwad, Satam and Bharat Ganeshpure as a contrite cop, Vijay Raaz and Ashutosh Rana hold their own.

They are wonderful actors to watch, who can express a multitude of emotions with just a look or frown.

Raaz does not sound like a Maharashtrian (other cops played by Marathi-speaking actors do) and Rana, not in the least like a Mumbai Catholic.

The dialogue writers have made the Fernandes couple and Leslie use Urdu words that are not part of the colloquial language of that class of Mumbai residents.

That is, however, a small quibble with the eight-part series that has so much else to offer. Some of that may be a chance to wipe out — if it is achievable by a Web series — the air of judgment towards those who do not conform to the majority’s idea of normal.

Murder In Mahim streams on JioCinema.

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