‘9 Hours’ web series review: An overdrawn crime drama that intrigues partly

9 Hours, streaming on Disney+ Hotstar, is filmmaker Krish Jagarlamudi’s adaptation of the Telugu novel Thommidhi Gantalu (nine hours), written by Malladi Venkata Krishnamurthy. Set in the mid- 1980s, it narrates the story of prison inmates who are commissioned to rob three banks and have to return within nine hours, in time for their next roll call. Krish, who has written and presented the series, needs to be commended for dipping into Telugu literature time and again for his movies, and now series. 

Directed by Niranjan Kaushik and Jacob Verghese, the series has varied and complex characters falling on different sides of the moral compass. There are prisoners who do not think twice about hurting the hostages and those who, given a chance, would opt for a better life. The hostages of different age groups are with differing moralities. 

The narrative has a lot to unravel, with the backstories of characters turning into a commentary on relationship dynamics, gender sensitivity, greed and power games. 

The story that begins as just another day at the bank swiftly transforms into a hostage drama. A video cassette store becomes the police control room for the mission and in the pre-mobile phones and the high-tech gadget age, walkie-talkies, landlines and public telephone booths come into the picture. As the drama unfolds, we get a closer look at the lives of the characters, some of which hold intrigue.

9 Hours
Cast: Taraka Ratna, Ajay, Madhu Shalini
Director: Niranjan Kaushik, Jacob Verghese
Music: Shakthi Kanth Karthick
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar

Taraka Ratna plays a short-tempered cop who is in the vicinity of one of the banks and wants to save the hostages. His estranged wife (Madhu Shalini) is a reporter. The bank manager (Suresh Kumar) who is serving his last day at work before retirement, is contrasted by a recruit (Preethi Asrani). Romance brews between her and Nandu (Ankith Koyya) in the bank. The others include a middle-aged assistant manager, a woman who faces sexual harassment from a pervert colleague (Venkata Giridhar), and so on. 

At the prison, politics play out differently and Ajay gets to enact an interesting character that gives him the scope to depict a range of emotions. A jailor with an ulterior motive, an aged cop who weighs his decisions with care, a newlywed young woman, and a sex worker who dreams of a better life, are the others in the drama. here

Then there are some cheesy portions, like the one involving an egoistic movie star and an emerging actor who lets vengeance get the better of him. 

Given the number of characters and their stories, there is a lot at play. However, everything takes its own sweet time to unravel. It is one thing to deliberately pace the narrative and another to not impart any sense of urgency in a crisis. 

The payoffs in the form of twists and turns happen rather late and are not enough. Perhaps it was alluring to have nine episodes to befit the title, but the series could have done with liberal trimming.

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

Had the series been shorter and sharper, it would have made for a riveting watch. 

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Printable version | Jun 8, 2022 1:27:14 pm |