The Night Manager Review: While Hotstar’s adaptation doesn’t veer too far from the original, a few standout core performances from actors like Aditya Roy Kapur, Anil Kapoor, Tillotama Shome, and Sobhita Dhulipala help it stand out from the streamer’s other selections.
The Night Manager
The Night Manager rises to the top of Hotstar’s list of Hindi-language remakes thanks to strong performances and an undoubtedly compelling narrative. But, compliments like this should be seen with a grain of salt when a streamer’s slate itself resembles a heap of previous season’s clothing at the back of your neighbourhood Zara.
Shaan Sengupta, played by Aditya Roy Kapur, is a former Naval officer who looks to have gotten a job in the hospitality sector as a night manager at five-star hotels when we first encounter him. Shaan is hired a few years later to spy on the guy whose evil plans allegedly led to the girl’s death after seeing the murder of a young girl in Dhaka who he had the chance to save. Anil Kapoor, a national icon, portrays the legendary arms dealer Shelly Rungta, a “merchant of death,” with scenery-chewing panache.
The Srikant Tiwari-like Lipika Saikia, played by series star Tillotama Shome, orchestrates an operation that ultimately isolates Shaan and Shelly on an island in Sri Lanka after a few fortuitous contacts (or were they?) in the first two episodes. Shaan is anticipated to infiltrate Shelly’s inner circle now that he is completely undercover and collect proof that would ultimately bring him down.
The Hindi Night Manager, which is based on the John le Carré novel and is closely related to the original miniseries, which was produced by Hotstar and starred Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman, and Elizabeth Debicki, naturally falls short in comparison.
So even if Shridhar Raghavan’s screenplay for Pathaan doesn’t truly stray from the original’s narrative, The Hindi Night Manager finds enough justifications to support the remake. For instance, even if the son of the Shelly character has a significant part in the original, Indian settings seem to be more naturally conducive to themes of family and parent-child interactions. After Shaan’rescues’ Taha from armed kidnappers in a planned heist, Shelly carefully invites Shaan into his inner group.
Even though it usually utilises kids as story devices, kids have a significant part in the programme. Rather than being unduly patriotic, Shaan is driven to spy on Shelly because he feels bad about not saving the girl in episode one. Shelly, on the other hand, thinks he owes Shaan for valiantly rescue Taha from the kidnappers. One of Shelly’s pals is compelled to come forward in a later episode when the Indian authorities exploit his child as a pawn.
To its credit, the programme does not engage in the very Indian error of patronising the viewer. More direct justification may have been given for Shelly’s choice to keep Shaan near in the early aftermath of the failed kidnapping. Yet, the programme keeps Shelly’s reasons unclear; he seems to owe Shaan, but it’s clear that he also has a lot of misgivings about him. And a large part of that is because to Kapoor’s slick (but strangely empathetic) performance. He reads lines with his signature buttery Kapoor drawl, but take note of how well he captures Shelly’s inner battle at a few crucial points.
On the other hand, Roy Kapur is surprisingly effective in the major part. He appears like an ex-soldier, which makes him quite plausible as such, but you might be pleasantly surprised by the sensitivity he shows in his interactions with Taha and the tragic little girl in episode one. The fact that Shaan really cares for the child adds complexity to the drama and humanises the character; in a world full of seriously dishonest individuals.
He really does care for Taha. In the sexually explicit moments with Sobhita Dhulipala, who is underutilised in a thankless position as Shelly’s physical arm candy, Roy Kapur is also also compelled to play closer to type. You just need to see two eye-catching close-ups to be reminded of how amazing she is. She deserves more than this, and whomever Major and Ponniyin Selvan’s personas were: I was.
Although Saswata Chatterjee seems to be enjoying herself in the Tom Hollander role as Shelly’s right-hand man, there was a chance for the remake to diverge from the original. It is objectively problematic that the character is portrayed as a permanently predatory gay guy, especially when this is the only quality that the character possesses. He replies, “I enjoy spooning,” after Shaan labels him a “chamcha.” While Brij is his real name, he goes by BJ. Ha ha.
The Night Manager quick overview
|The Night Manager
|17th February 2023
Every time Shome appears as Shaan’s ethically ambiguous RAW handler, she brings a much-needed air of fun to the oftentimes grim proceedings. She has personal reasons rather than ideological ones, just like every other character on the programme. This seems like a little success, especially in light of the fact that Roy Kapur’s final starring role has its title retrospectively changed to make it seem more right-wing. Naturally, it was a failure.
And it’s impossible to predict if The Night Manager will. One of the few watchable programmes on Hotstar’s lineup has been sabotaged by the perplexing choice to break the series into two parts. Only four episodes make up the first portion; a pre-cap reveals will follow in June. After three months, would viewers even be interested in watching the same show again? The future? particularly if they also have access to the original. But, when seen separately, the Indian Night Manager is just about as effective as to ignore its insistence on an early check-out.