London Files  ‘Voot’ Review: Begins With Absolute Chaos, Ends With Absolute Silence
Quite often, we get to see content that we feel will be intriguing. Upon a further glance, we take a look at how long it is/how many episodes it has. London Files on Voot was one such show that had promise and may have disappointed viewers as it offered just six episodes; each of about 30-40 minutes. However, as this Arjun Rampal starrer, which was centered around immigrants and laws regarding the same progressed, the content disappointed and the run time proved delightful.
Voot’s London Files starts off with what is supposed to be a birthday celebration, but things aren’t quite right with fear, anger, and shock taking center stage. Why? That narrative emerged in the form of flashbacks and proved to be quite intriguing over the opening few episodes. These episodes (Missing and Guilty) also present a new challenge to the protagonist, one that takes him back to the past, or rather, his past.
It was after that, that the formulaic approach was followed and proved to be like the motto that got chanted in this series. “Only after absolute chaos comes absolute silence.”
Chaos is the best way to describe the start of the series. Writers Gopal Datt and Prateek Payodhi had a good idea to begin with. They decided to approach it through various storylines, i.e. the investigation, and the personal trouble of the tormented cop. The ending of episode 2 caught me by surprise and it was in episode 3 (Doubt) that I realized I had to pay closer attention as the clues were in the dialogues. This is a hallmark of any good investigative thriller.
Towards the latter half of the series, more specifically, episode 5 (Chaos) onwards, the beleaguered cop storyline comes forth with the redemption arc expected. The manner in which director Sachin Pathak explored this arc showed no chaos whatsoever. There was chaos in Om’s life, but not in terms of storyline expectations.
Hence, we can say that London Films started with a bang and ended with a whimper, i.e. with complete silence.
Arjun Rampal’s Om is the center of the show. He walks around cold and gloomy London in a brooding manner and exhibits paranoia well. As he begins to connect the dots, audiences can even buy into the idea that he is blending personal and professional in an uncomfortable way. Sneha Khanwalkar’s music magnifies this feeling of realization, trepidation, concern, and even when light dawns on him.
The Bollywood actor excels in his first OTT outing and could be brought back for a potential sophomore season. There is a possibility of this happening, given the climax of the opening season.
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A word of praise to the writers here for wrapping up something in season one and focusing on what they have rather than completely laying out elements for the sequel.
Among the supporting cast, Purab Kohli and Medha Rana take prominent positions. While London Files wouldn’t be unimaginable without them, they successfully get the audience to buy into the desired direction the director wanted the audience to perceive them in. The likes of Eva-Jane Willis, and Shanice Archer, did well. Particularly the latter, who evolved from a damsel in distress to a brainwashed fanatic. Casting and roles worked well, but one that didn’t was Adil Zubair’s Rishi. His involvement dwindles as London Files progresses. Initially, it seemed as though the reason for his absence was to hint at something, but he remained forgotten. There is room for a train of thought to digest his absence, but as the rookie upstart who looks up to Om, he should have been around at the end.
Through Arun Kumar Pandey’s lens, we see persecution and the state of those who are shunned by their new homes. We get a glimpse of how dreams of new beginnings are turned into nightmares, thereby pushing them towards the dark side. In the words of Alfred from Batman vs Superman- “the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men… cruel.”
London Files has multiple messages. Tolerance and acceptance of all is one. Another is that one must not micro-manage, neglect, or make their children who they aren’t. It is so easy to get lost in something in the present social media digital age. While I did say London Files ended with a whimper (when looked at as an investigative thriller), the final message was loud. It showed us that anyone can find themselves within. All it takes is the right push and the need to listen.
Really? Did it take just one monologue to convince the other party? And there was no chaos in such a scene. That did catch me by surprise, but proved weak.
London Files could have been so much more…
London Files is now streaming on Voot
London Files Links: IMDb, Voot
Cast: Arjun Rampal, Purab Kohli, Medha Rana, Gopal Datt, Sapna Pabbi