On 7th Nov, P.O.W, Bandi Yudhh Ke, premiered amidst high anticipation, thanks to Star’s extensive campaign under the Nayi Soch banner. The teasers released were exquisitely crafted, revealing an emotionally charged story that promised nail -biting suspense.
The first episode delivered on all these promises, easily establishing P.O.W as the best television show currently on Indian TV . It was a tightly written episode that laid out the plot succinctly and set the tone of the show , which is, (thank the Almighty) slightly different that than what the regular audience is used to.
Sartaaj Singh and Imann Khan return to their families after spending 17 years in captivity across the border. While the families rejoice, the duo seem to be hiding a mutual secret, sniffed by no one except a POW specialist Vikram Singh. Vikram , closely monitored by NSA’s Duggal, is known for his rogue streak when it comes to adhering to government protocols. The stage is, therefore, set for an interesting cat and mouse chase.
The first episode ends on a poignant note when Imaan & Sartaaj are received by their respective families. The homecoming scene stands out because of it’s emotional restraint. Its an impressive scene that rebels subtly against the excess dramatization that is the norm in our TV industry
Emotion Vs Suspense:
In an attempt to create a complex story interlaced with suspense and emotion, POW’s script relies on the interweaving of two distinct plot-lines, . The first one is primary psychological: What happens to a family, that has moved on, when someone comes back from the dead? How does it re create a space in present for someone who, for them, had existed only in past? What happens to a prisoner of war, who has endured years of torture, when routine and normalcy are thrust back into his life overnight?
In this regard, the show does a great job by creating two very strong female characters . Harleen Kaur, Sartaaj’s wife , who has almost replaced him in his household, takes care of the fields, the family , the finances and the kitchen. Nazneen Khan , Imaan’s wife, is a celebrity cook and mother of two teenagers, who has just acknowledged that she might have feelings for her brother in law. These two women have learned to live on their own, and now face a state of raw emotional upheaval, as their husbands return.The scenes are written delicately and enacted with slow powerful intensity. This part of the story keeps you soaked in feelings for a while, treading gingerly, from one experience to another.
The suspense part however , rests solely on Sartaaj Singh & Imaan Khan’s secret. Contrary to the emotional aspect of the story, this one demands uncompromising pace. For POW to justify itself as a thriller, this dark secret needs to be worth chasing after. Yes, as of now, we know there is something going on but it need not be exactly what Vikram Singh suspects: That would be too simplistic. The writers need to provide continuous fodder to audience to keep them curious and speculating. Back to back twists, unexpected outcomes, crucial revelations are all, pivotal to maintain a pace that’s inclusive of the viewers.
It is going to be a tough task to achieve a balance between emotion and suspense, because POW is no Homeland, and Indian audience will need a liberal dose of family drama to identify , which will in turn, make them care about the protagonists and their secret.
The First Week:
In the first 6 episodes, the focus seems to have been more towards the rehabilitation of these two soldiers and the problems faced by their families. Harleen and Nazneen have made a strong place into the audience hearts, by fighting tooth and nail, to get their husbands released from Vikram’s interrogation. They might not have come to terms with the sudden homecoming, but they have made it clear that it’s not okay to mess with their husbands..
The interrogation in itself did not succeed in making a point, as it constituted of torture scenes , that seemed repetitive after a certain point. Not enough information was revealed to fuel curiosity and I could see why Imaan was bored with Vikram after a while. Unless a context is revealed in future episodes, the Morse code conversation carried out on stage seemed highly incongruous. Why would they need to communicate at all on stage during a ceremony that’s being telecast all over the country? Surely, it could wait?
The show has certainly made an impressive start and is going to set a benchmark for Indian TV in terms of a well researched production. The successful Indian adaptation of a foreign story has paved way for more such experiments in future. Star Plus has definitely delivered on the Nayi Soch promise by bringing POW to our screens. Let’s hope that the story telling continues to be gripping and the execution has as much as an impact in the Finale, as it had in the Premiere.