Those who have seen films like Blumhouse's Unfriended (2014) and Searching (2018), starring the criminally underrated John Cho, would be familiar with the scant yet steadily growing trend of desktop movies, where almost or at least a major chunk of the narrative unfolds before a computer, tablet or mobile screen. For those alien to his concept, Voot's new web series, The Gone Game, is as good a place for an initiation as any. That it's probably the first web series ever to follow this MO, not to mention film or show ever to be shot in the physical absence of a technical crew (actors did most of the recording, with the technicians working their magic after the footage were sent to them), makes it truly experimental. However, its experimentation isn't the only reason you should check it out because season 1 of The Gone Game does what every good thriller should do, keep you guessing on the edge of your seat.
Scroll down for my full The Gone Game review... What's it about
Sahil Gujral (Arjun Mathur) returns from Bangkok with COVID-19 symptoms and he eventually has to get himself tested. The worst transpires when he's tested positive and dies soon after. However, strange occurrences lead his sister, Amara Gujral (
Shweta Tripathi) to believe that he may be alive and things take a vicious turn when the entire family, including father Rajeev Gujral ( Sanjay Kapoor) and Suneeta Gijral (Rukhsar Rehman), suspect that Sahil's wife, Suhani Gujral (Shriya Pilgaonkar) and Amara's ex-boyfriend, Prateek Jindal (Indraneil Sengupta) have a hand to play.
The Gone Game season 1 ticks most boxes required for a web series in the thriller genre to have you hooked, booked and waiting in anticipation for the next season. Intriguing premise - check; crisp writing (Radhika Anand, Nikhil Bhat, Ayesha Syed, Mautik Tolia) - check, tight direction (Nikhil Bhat, again) - check; suspense that never lets go - check; palpable tension right through - check; inducing you into a guessing game - check; pulling the rug from beneath your feet - check; leaving things on a cliffhanger in the finale -check; credible performances - check. Shweta Tripathi is the heart and soul of the show, ably supported by Shriya Pilgaonkar, Rukhsar, Arjun Mathur, and Sanjay Kapoor's best act by a country mile.
It's also nothing short of marvelous how Amit Kumar and Manish Mistry edit everything together with fluidity and how Piyush Puty works his camera angles and lighting despite never being present while the shots were taken. However, the most marvelous aspect has got to be how the script never lets go of the paranoia and hysteria that the lockdown induced into the general populace's mindset, coupled with the fear of the Coronavirus pandemic changing the way we live, using these core themes to set its plot and the helplessness of its actors against.
For all its smart writing and shrewd direction, The Gone Game makes some juvenile errors that are hard to ignore. For instance, the makers totally disregard the disinfectant policy mandatory for those staying with a patient detected positive for COVID-19. Also, the CCTV cameras in each room of the Sahil and Suhani Gujral is a bit of a stretch, and is an obvious a plot contrivance to move the narrative forward. It's also surprising why an actor of
Dibyendu Bhattacharya's caliber was cast, with precious little to do, and then have his role abruptly cut short. Also, Indraneil Sengupta is a major weak link among all the fine acting on display, sticking out like a sore thumb. Plus, this is one time that you feel more episodes were needed as at just four episodes, certain major plot points feel hurried.
If not for the aforementioned issues, The Gone Game would have easily joined the ranks of Undekhi, Special Ops, Asur, Paatal Lok and Flesh as one of the best Indian web series this year. It still does plenty though to make a case for one of the better of OTT shows to emerge from the
desi stable and creates enough interest to call you back for round 2, whenever it happens. I'm going with 3.5 out of 5 stars.
3.5 out of 5
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