She season 2 had been more effective if body politics and woman’s sexual awakening presented fearlessly.

At the end of the first season of the thriller series (Netflix) created by Imtiaz Ali, undercover cop Bhumi (Aaditi Pohankar) had declared her allegiance to the very gangster and drug don who she was honey-trapping.

Her handler inspector Fernandez (Vishwas Kini) has begun to doubt Bhumi’s commitment to the assignment as well as her information on criminal Nayak (Kishore Kumar), who know one can identify except her. The second season, directed by Arif Ali, is an extremely slow-burn exploration of Bhumi transforming from pawn to a woman leading a double life to someone who gradually rewrites the power equation.

The mysterious and cutthroat Nayak, who carries his own demons with him, is executing an elaborate drugs distribution plan while also becoming increasingly involved with Bhumi. Bhumi’s own life story — involving her mother (Suhita Thatte), her sister Rupa (Shivani Rangole), her estranged husband and a flat — is also playing out on the sidelines.

Bhumi continues to pose as a commercial sex worker, an alter ego that helps her overcome the sexual humiliation meted out by her husband. When her passionate and sexual side is unleashed, she becomes insatiable. However, for a show that pivots on lust and desire, the intimate scenes – in particular the numerous scenes between Nayak and Bhumi — are awkward, self-conscious and devoid of sensuality. This absolute lack of chemistry between Kumar and Pohankar is one of this season’s weaknesses.

Fortunately, Aaditi Pohankar inhabits Bhumi completely, with all her pain, confusion, helplessness, loneliness and courage. Her performance makes up for a plodding narrative, Kumar’s unmoving face and deadpan speech and the shocking ineptitude of the police force. They do no investigative work, never follow Bhumi or track her phone. Fernandez too flip-flops, going from mistrust to a belief that she’s onto something big. The police just flounder about, going on the word of one undercover cop who they don’t follow or suspect is compromised.

The screenplay sometimes takes a non-linear route, which is less of an effective storytelling device and more of an annoying diversion.

The unenergetic seven-episode season has a few interesting twists and textured supporting characters. The show might have been more affecting if body politics, a woman’s sexual awakening and her claiming of agency had been presented fearlessly and energetically.

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By akagami