Bestseller  Prime Video Review: A Strong Front Runner For One Of The Worst Shows Of The Year
The OTT space has more or less established its footing in the past five years in terms of quality and style of storytelling. You know that Netflix is going to give you some great international movies and shows but fumble with the Indian content. Sony LIV is going to feature some of the best shows of all time but then forget to market it. Disney+ Hotstar is going to give us some of the most lukewarm movies and shows imaginable. And so on and so forth. But there are these rare moments where it feels like a particular piece of entertainment ended up on the wrong streaming platform. For example, Bestseller (2022) is a Prime Video show, which is home to quality Indian entertainment. However, it looks like the show was on its way to MX Player (which isn’t synonymous with quality Indian entertainment) and stumbled into Prime.
Directed by Mukul Abhyankar and written by Anvita Dutt and Althea Kaushal, Bestseller tells the story of famed writer Tahir Wazir (Arjan Bajwa) who is trying to complete his new book after the massive success of his last one. His wife Mayanka Kapoor (Gauahar Khan) works in advertising and they share a strained relationship because of Mayanka’s past. Then there’s Meetu Mathur (Shruti Haasan) who is finding it hard to make ends meet and is a huge fan of Tahir. She “accidentally” comes across her idol and convinces him that his last book is exactly like her life story. Tahir, weirdly enough, becomes very interested in Meetu’s backstory and promises her that he’ll employ her if he sends her story to him in writing. That’s when Parth Acharya enters the picture as an executive intern in Mayanka’s production house and starts wooing Mayanka while messing up Tahir’s life on the side.
Related to Bestseller (Prime Video): 10 Best Amazon Originals, Ranked
The one thing that needs to be on point in a show about a writer is the writing. The writing in Bestseller sucks so hard that you will find yourself questioning if people really talk and think like that. There’s a fair chance that people do but most certainly not like this. Everyone from Tahir to Mayanka and the star of the show, Lokesh Pramanik (Mithun Chakraborty) behave as if they have just been born into this reality. They make assumptions about people like they’re as naive as recently-graduated school students who don’t know how the rest of the world works and hence have no clue about being manipulated and how one should protect oneself. Tahir and Mayanka are here pretending as if they’ve seen every high and low of the modern world and then giving the keys to their private and digital space like it’s no big deal. And all that’s being pointed out by Pramanik as if we, the audience, are too dumb to notice the immense stupidity of the scenarios.
Meetu and Parth are infuriating on a different level. And no, not in an intentional way. But in a “look we are fooling you but you don’t know that yet” way. Oh! We know. It’s presented so bluntly from the get-go that (spoiler alert!) Meetu and Parth aren’t what they seem. Let’s start with Meetu. Her “big reveal” that she’s actually not this meek, doe-eyed fangirl is revealed with a physical transformation, where she ties her shirt in a knot, speaks fluent English, and lights a cigarette. That’s done to let us know that she’s putting up an act for Tahir. But then why is she acting all meek and doe-eyed when he’s not around? If she’s acting differently in front of the world out of fear of being monitored 24×7, then why is she breaking character so openly? Same goes for Parth. Why is he visibly expressing that he’s “cunning” while “fooling” the characters? Why are the rest of the characters not noticing that he’s making these villainous expressions and doing noticeably shady things? And, for the love of everything sacred, why are Meetu and Parth breaking the fourth wall so inconsistently? All valid questions but no sensible answers.
None of the actors do anything to make, well, anything about Bestseller bearable. Absolutely nothing. Their acting has that feeling to it that they are acting-acting. They haven’t become one with their characters and are just winging it. And that’s truly frustrating to watch. Because you keep hoping that someone is going to call out the fact that they aren’t as smart or vicious or conniving as they think they are. That’s not entirely the actors’ fault and is a result of the writers and the director’s inability to flesh these characters out properly and then navigate them through this stupid story. But you’d expect these actors, who have been in the business for so long, to do something to elevate the material, right? Gauahar Khan is the only one who manages to ground and react as her character. On the other end of the spectrum is Satyajeet Dubey (who’s a fine actor) who comes off as amateurish and hence annoying. In a weird way, it’s probably Mithun who is the only one who understood the assignment and doesn’t care if Pramanik, a police officer mind you, seems like a goof.
In conclusion, don’t watch Bestsellers. It’s definitely not worth your time. Here are some other shows that you’ll find on Prime Video that you should watch though: The Boys (2019-ongoing), Fleabag (2016-2019), Homecoming (2018-2020), Hunters (2020-ongoing), Invincible (2021-ongoing), Jack Ryan (2018-ongoing), The Office (2005-2013), The Underground Railroad (2021), Dom (2021-ongoing), Inside Edge (2017-ongoing), Mirzapur (2018-ongoing), Made in Heaven (2019-ongoing), Paatal Lok (2020-ongoing), Bandish Bandits (2020-ongoing), Pushpavalli (2017-2020), Afsos (2020), and Panchayat (2020-ongoing). Just don’t spend this already fleeting life on Bestsellers. In fact, if you watch the aforementioned web series and then watch Bestsellers, you’ll actually understand the point I was trying to make earlier about how it feels like this show accidentally dropped on Prime Video.