Cast: Shantanu Maheshwari, Tanya Maniktala, Tillotama Shome, Sikandar Kher, Saswata Chatterjee, Revathi, and ensemble.
Creator: Pratim D. Gupta.
Director: Pratim D. Gupta.
Streaming On: Netflix.
Language: Hindi (with subtitles).
Runtime: 8 Episodes, Around 40 Minutes Each.
Tooth Pari: When Love Bites Review : What’s It About:
A vampire with the gest of life still left in her wanders on the streets of Kolkata, until one day, she hunts a man and loses her canine while biting him. She then meets a shy dentist and falls in love with him, only to realise that they belong to two different worlds. Can their love survive?
Tooth Pari: When Love Bites Review : What Works:
With the rise in technology and the availability of resources to help the audience understand the technique, expecting suspension of disbelief from them has become a lot more difficult. Blending fantasy into the real world and then making the two look a part of the same story organically is not an easy job. A Stranger Things had to invest an entire season just to explain their two worlds to become one of the biggest genre-bending shows. Netflix’s latest offering, Tooth Pari, is a setup that is well-researched and shaped, but does it stand true to the genre it wants to be a game changer in?
Written by Pratim D. Gupta with Sambit Mishra’s help for story development, Tooth Pari is on a blurring line between fantasy and reality where the elements of a ghostly world enter the real-time, and a story between the dead and the alive unfolds. It is not like we haven’t seen this trajectory before, but it is the design that we haven’t. Pratim, in his idea of a vampire settlement deep underground, designs a parallel world that is equally advanced as that of humans. Because technically, even the ghosts and vampires have also seen the evolution. It is a fun twist to see a gaming zone, high-tech lighting set up, hibernation pods, and all of this used by blood thirst vampires.
The cleverness is also in how the vampires’ evolution is scaled in writing. Some of them are as old as our civilization, and some who seen almost the entire history. They are the victims of the atrocities laid on the Indians during colonialism, the atrocities done on Kolkata in the name of ‘discovering Kolkata’, patriarchy, lack of love, and more. Pratim establishes himself as a very distinct political voice at the very beginning of the show and continues to be one until a point where he forgets. These vampires have now also coined a system where blood is smuggled to them, and they don’t hunt. This part of the story has cleverly written all over it. There is even a Harry Potter Platform 9 ¾ reference.
Tooth Pari: When Love Bites Review : Star Performance:
Shantanu Maheshwari gets to be a shy ‘virgin’ dentist who is a closeted chef because his patriarchal father thinks cooking is a feminine trait. The actor plays the part as one expects him to. He has done this in the past, and there is nothing much to judge here about him.
Tanya Maniktala, as Rumi, has a complex part at hand, and she does well in portraying it too. The script though, doesn’t give the vampire in her much screentime, and that could have done wonders. She gets a face-off with Revathi which is also very half-baked and abruptly ended. The makers use it as a tease but it doesn’t serve as one.
Saswata Chatterjee does a very good job with his comic timing and you expect him to be that good. Adil Hussain as the AD, the boss who balances the Upar and Neeche, is good. It is a part caricaturised to create and effect and it does land well.
Tooth Pari: When Love Bites Review : What Doesn’t Work:
What works for Tooth Pari ends up leading to everything that doesn’t. The makers are so obsessed with their setup that they forget they have a story to tell. And when they realise they begin running on full speed. At the core of a vampire drama, Tooth Pari is supposed to be a love story like the Twilight, but where is the love story? There is never enough exploration of the chemistry that Roy and Rumi are supposed to share. They end up being teenage kids in confused relationship and very capable to forget it the next day itself. How are we supposed to root for them if we haven’t been able to invest much.
Add to it the fact that the makers have two brilliantly established women in the cast, Tillotama, and Revathi, but they are never given enough of the playground to showcase their calibre. Shome at least has a playful vibe and a character that manages to create some recall value, but Revathi gets a stereotypical part that lands nowhere. Even the antagonist clan Kutmundus is never established well in a way that the audience might be worried for the Vampires from Neeche (as they call their underworld).
The rush to reach the end dilutes so many things in Tooth Pari that you see a potential set up going for a toss with no sign of redemption. This could be a unique rom-com IP that would have a good future. But there is a very little hope now.
Tooth Pari: When Love Bites Review : Last Words:
Tooth Pari deserved to be much more than this conclusion because the idea is that good.
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