Killer Soup: Abhishek Chaubey Cooks A Delicious Meal With An Ode To The Works Of Both Shakespeare And Virginia Wolf

An impressive OTT debut by Abhishek Chaubey.

3.5

Killer Soup (Hindi)

  • Cast:  Manoj Bajpayee, Konkana Sen Sharma, Nassar, Sayaji Shinde, and Lal
  • Director: Abhishek Chaubey
  • Producers: Honey Tehran and Chetana Koshwik
  • Original Score: Benedict Taylor and Naresh Chandavarkar
  • No. of episodes: 8
  • OTT platform: Netflix

Abhishek Chaubey has proved to be more than a worthy protégé to the master filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj. Starting from Ishqiya in 2010, he has created a space for himself in the industry.

Abhishek Chaubey’s movies have never been part of the big clubs, but he has earned a certain respect among moviegoers.

A case in point is 2016’s Udta Punjab, which ruffled many feathers for its honest portrayal of the drug situation in Punjab.

Now, he has made his OTT debut with Killer Soup, which has been anticipated for more than one reason: The lead actors, Manoj Bajpayee and Konkana Sen Sharma, who have proved their proficiency by playing distinct roles in both movies and web shows.

Additionally, the subject of Killer Soup is based on some real-life incidents. There is an uncanny similarity to a murder that happened in Telangana. A woman called Swathi Reddy killed her husband and burned his body with the help of her lover Rajesh.

Well, without much ado, let’s check the synopsis.

Synopsis

Manoj Bajpayee in Killer Soup
Manoj Bajpayee in ‘Killer Soup’. (X)

The setting of Killer Soup is the fictional town of Mainjur in South India. The story opens with the happy photographs of husband and wife Swathi (Konkana Sen Sharma) and Prabhu (Manoj Bajpayee). And then, we move to their daily routine, which includes Swathi preparing paya soup.

On the other hand, Prabhu chooses what to wear from his huge collection of printed shirts. Swathi aspires to open her restaurant where the star dish would be the paya soup.

Prabhu makes lofty promises to Swathi but does nothing substantial to help her achieve her goal. He maintains an image of a god-like man.

Swathi leads a double life. She wears a burkha and goes outside to meet two people. One is the woman who teaches her cooking, and the other is her lover Umesh (Manoj Bajpayee again).

Things turn drastically at the end of the first episode when Prabhu catches Swathi and Umesh.

From here begins a roller coaster of a journey where Umesh ends up replacing Prabhu. What follows is a delicious mix of a dark comedy and an investigative thriller.

Analysis

Konkona Sen Sharma in Killer Soup
Konkona Sen Sharma in ‘Killer Soup’. (X)

One of the things that stand out in Killer Soup is the mix of different languages.

All the characters alternate between English, Hindi, and Tamil. The vocabulary and diction have an authentic feel and don’t sound jarring at any point.

Abhishek Chaubey does a wonderful job of creating a lived-in world.

Anuj Rakesh Dhawan’s cinematography needs to be commended.

Killer Soup also has some impressive social commentary through the character of Konkana Sen Sharma.

Swathi is someone who has a single-minded ambition of opening her restaurant. There is a visible desperation in her need for respect and social stature. Here, the viewers are reminded of Sobhita Dhulipala’s Tara from Made in Heaven (2019 and 2023).

Swathi is not the only one who wants to have an identity of her own. Her niece Apeksha (Anula Navleker) dreams of getting enrolled in a fine arts school in Paris to escape her controlling family.

Shakespearean touch

Abhishek Chaubey's directorial Killer Soup
Abhishek Chaubey’s directorial ‘Killer Soup’. (X)

Abhishek Chaubey has also done a good job of incorporating the Shakespeare elements.

Hassan (Nassar), a cop, is on the cusp of retirement and wants to end his career on a high.

Aiding him in this investigation is the ghost of a private detective Kiran Nadar (Bagavathi Perumal). This ghost is visible only to Hassan and gives him valuable support whenever the senior officer is in the doldrums.

The director has used the technique of magic realism in the scenes where Hassan interacts with the ghost. Some viewers will feel a sense of absurdity but it is also equally fun to watch.

The characters of Swathi and Umesh have also been humanised. For example, Umesh has pangs of guilt and expresses his frustration of being in the shoes of someone else.

In the case of Swathi, there are occasions where she does come across as a lady Macbeth with her manipulative ways but at the same time, she has a genuine fondness for Apeksha that comes out on more than one occasion.

The supporting characters have also been written with a lot of care. The best examples of this are Sayaji Shinde and Nassar. Sayaji Shinde is a delight to watch as a no-nonsense man. He is the elder brother of Prabhu.

Nassar as the determined cop brings in a lot of integrity to his scenes. The actor also leaves you in splits in his interactions with the ghost.

Performances

As far as the lead actors are concerned, Konkana and Manoj Bajpayee are simply magical together and individually.

Konkana pulls off the different moods with absolute panache —going from loving to scary without any fumble.

Manoj Bajpayee is also wonderful, particularly as bumbling Umesh, who has no control over what is happening around him.

A slight flaw in the Killer Soup web series is the role of Malayalam actor Lal’s Lucas. Lucas is hinted to be a rebel leader before working for Sayaji Shinde’s Aravind, but the characterisation feels sketchy.

Lal makes a solid impression, but a better characterisation would have enhanced the performance.

Also, the editing leaves something to be desired at places.

Verdict

In all, Killer Soup is definitely a dish worth tasting. Abhishek Chaubey has made an impressive digital debut.

(Views expressed here are personal.)

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