‘The Night Manager’ Hindi series review: An explosive combination of style and substance

Laced with powerhouse performances, a dose of sharp humour, and languid sensuality, it is the smart treatment of the predictable portions that keep us invested

February 18, 2023 06:00 pm | Updated February 19, 2023 01:27 pm IST

A still from ‘The Night Manager’ 

A still from ‘The Night Manager’ 

Marrying style with substance, The Night Manager is one of the few adaptations of international franchises where text and context come together to create a stimulating experience. Adapted by Sridhar Raghavan, the Indian version of David Farr’s acclaimed series that drew from John Le Carre’s novel, The Night Manager hits the ground running as it opens in our eastern neighbourhood of Bangladesh that has been grappling with the forced migration of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.

Even before we come to the terms with the magnitude of the problem, the action moves to an upscale hotel in Dhaka where a child bride (Arsita Mehta) of an eccentric Bangladeshi tycoon Freddie Rehman is struggling to find a way out amidst the crisis. In Shan Dasgupta (Aditya Roy Kapoor), the strapping manager with a ticking heart, she finds an unlikely ally.

As she blows the whistle on her tormentor, we discover that Rahman is a front for Shailendra Rungta (Anil Kapoor), an arms dealer in the guise of a business magnate with a share in every land that is being cultivated for terror and unrest. The police don’t touch him except for Lipika Saikia (Tillotama Shome), a RAW officer who is not only thorough with her research and analysis, but also knows how to bypass the superiors who are batting for Rungta. She could not stop Rungta in Bangladesh, but a couple of years later Shan gets another opportunity to net the big fish in a Shimla resort. How he infiltrates Rungta’s gang with the support of Saikia constitutes the rest of the four-part first season.

The Night Manager (Hindi)
Creator: Sandeep Modi
Cast: Aditya Roy Kapur, Anil Kapoor, Tillotama Shome, Sobhita Dhulipala, Saswata Chatterjee
Storyline: A hotel’s night manager is the only weapon against a dangerous arms dealer. Will he be able to stop him?

Sridhar, who showed his skill in Pathaan (he was one of the writers), here takes his cues from Carre but adds a lot between the lines to bring the inspiration closer home. Particularly, the way he sets it up in Dhaka ensures that you are sucked into the whirlpool of emotion and intrigue. Eventually, The Night Manager resorts to the tried and trusted ways of an espionage thriller where a soldier finds a reason to return to action, but Sridhar, backed by the blinding scale of the series, ensures that the interest remains alive and kicking.

Adirya Roy Kapur in ‘The Night Manager’ 

Adirya Roy Kapur in ‘The Night Manager’ 

Rungta is surrounded by interesting characters. There is a wife (Sobhita Dhulipala) whom he holds like a trophy and she acts like a dumb doll, hiding a lot behind those expressive eyes. There is a partner-in-crime (Saswata Chatterjee) who is devoted to Rungta, but his sexual predilections threaten to spoil their relationship. As always, there is a weakness of Rungta in the form of his precocious son who, as expected, develops a bond with Shan.

One of the highlights of the series is its pacing; scenes and situations don’t linger on beyond a few episodes. Showrunner Sandeep Modi who showed a deft hand at handling textured stuff in Aarya, once again smoothly navigates through the layers of intrigue and intricate emotions. Laced with a dose of sharp humour and languid sensuality, it is the smart treatment of the predictable portions that keep us invested.

The series also provides a platform for some understated performers to showcase their talent. Aditya Roy Kapoor finally gets a role where his performance matches his personality. The writing demands a certain emotional gravitas from him, and Aditya delivers. His equation with the two child actors gives the tense thriller some tender moments. As the cold sensation that raises our blood every time she is on-screen, Sobhita is more than just eye-candy.

Anil Kapoor in ‘The Night Manager’.

Anil Kapoor in ‘The Night Manager’.

Anil Kapoor is at the top of his game as the double-faced tycoon who deals in terror. With such characters, there is always an opportunity to go bombastic, but Kapoor effortlessly chews the scenery. And there is a lot of it! The trademark drawl is there, but the way he internalises the insecurities of a man, who has blood on his hands, is a delight to watch.

He finds his match in Tillotama. As an intelligence officer who is cornered by her own system, she plays her urge to succeed with a light touch. Like the series, she personifies that when art meets popular appeal, it can create some explosive moments on screen. We cannot wait till June, when The Night Manager is booked for a second outing.

The Night Manager is currently streaming on Disney+Hotstar

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