Dhootha Web Series Review: A Muddled Blend of Mystery and Horror

Amazon Prime Video is now offering the latest mystery-horror Telugu web series, Dhootha. Vikram K Kumar has directed the series, and it features an impressive cast with Naga Chaitanya Akkineni, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Prachi Desai, and Priya Bhavani Shankar.

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By Mystic Vivan
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Dhootha Web Series Review

Image Credit : Prime Video

Dhootha, the latest mystery-horror Telugu web series available on Amazon Prime Video. Directed by Vikram K Kumar and featuring an ensemble cast including Naga Chaitanya Akkineni, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Prachi Desai, and Priya Bhavani Shankar, Dhootha promises an intriguing mix of suspense and supernatural elements.

Unraveling a Complex Plot

Dhootha follows the journey of Sagar Varma (Naga Chaitanya Akkineni), a renowned journalist on the verge of becoming the chief editor of a new newspaper called Samachar in Vizag. His life takes an unexpected turn when he stumbles upon mysterious newspaper clippings that predict the deaths of his acquaintances and his own family. As the death toll rises, special investigating officer Kranthi Shenoy (Parvathy Thiruvothu) steps in to unravel the truth behind these seemingly supernatural events and uncover any underlying conspiracies.

A Promising Blend of Genres

One aspect that initially draws attention to Dhootha is its unique blend of mystery, horror, and elements of journalism ethics. The show explores the ethical conundrums faced by journalists and delves into the complexities of the profession. It also introduces us to Kranthi Shenoy, a female detective who challenges traditional gender roles and frequently outsmarts her male counterparts with her sharp deductions. Such progressive character portrayals are seldom seen in Telugu cinema, making Dhootha a refreshing addition to the genre.

Struggles with Tone and Execution

While Dhootha shows promise with its intriguing premise and progressive themes, it falls short in executing a consistent tone and maintaining a cohesive narrative. The show seems torn between emulating the dark and cerebral style of David Fincher's films and embracing the campy thrills of a Final Destination movie. This indecisiveness hampers the overall impact of the series and prevents it from developing a unique voice of its own.

The Web Series Structure Done Right

Dhootha effectively adopts the structure of a web series, keeping viewers engaged with cliffhangers and unexpected deaths at the end of each episode. This approach hooks the audience, compelling them to click the "next episode" button without hesitation. In the early episodes, this technique successfully masks certain flaws, such as questionable lead performances and awkward dialogues that seem translated from another language. However, as the series progresses, the struggle to balance procedural elements and extravagant flourishes becomes apparent.

Missed Opportunities in Character Development

One of the show's missed opportunities lies in fully developing its morally grey protagonist, Sagar Varma. While Naga Chaitanya Akkineni delivers a decent performance, the writing fails to provide substantial depth to his character. Additionally, the convoluted narrative prevents the strong and determined Kranthi Shenoy from making a significant impact on the events unfolding in the plot. This lack of character development ultimately hampers the audience's investment in the mysteries presented throughout the show.

Surface-Level Moralizing and Flawed Execution

Dhootha attempts to explore the unholy union of politics and journalism, but its moralizing comes across as superficial and lacking in nuance. Although the show touches on timely issues such as political parties purchasing ad space and columns in newspapers, it fails to delve deeper and provide insightful commentary. The final episodes also suffer from a ham-fisted expression of rage against a villain whose crimes are not adequately witnessed, leaving the audience disconnected from the intended emotional impact.

Excessive Violence and Questionable Realism

As the series nears its conclusion, the violence portrayed becomes excessive, particularly in its treatment of female characters. A pregnant woman is subjected to assault twice by the same individual, with one instance presented as a fake-out dream sequence. These prolonged scenes of violence detract from the overall viewing experience and undermine any claims of brutal realism the show may have aimed to achieve.

Technical and Production Flaws

Dhootha shares some common issues with recent Telugu films, particularly in its portrayal of journalists. Rather than basing the characters on real-life journalists, the show seems to draw inspiration from fictionalized portrayals seen in movies. The mispronunciation of Vizag locations, such as Akkayyapalem, adds to the general flimsiness of the post-production work. These technical flaws detract from the overall quality of the series and hinder its ability to fully immerse the audience in its world.

Lessons Learned from Masooda

To improve future Telugu web series, creators can learn from the success of last year's sleeper-hit horror film, Masooda. Masooda demonstrated a distinct voice and a sure-footed approach to tone, offering valuable lessons for upcoming shows. Building upon Dhootha's strengths, future series can focus on enhancing the structural aspects and delivering compelling genre storytelling.

Conclusion: Frustration in Mediocrity

In conclusion, Dhootha falls short of its potential, frustrating viewers with its mediocrity rather than complete incompetence. While the show's blend of mystery, horror, and exploration of journalism ethics initially sparks intrigue, it ultimately struggles to find its footing and deliver a consistently engaging narrative. Despite commendable performances from Parvathy Thiruvothu and certain supporting actors, Dhootha fails to leave a lasting impact due to its scattered execution and missed opportunities.

 

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