Lootere review: Lost in the waves of mediocrity

Lootere is a mystery thriller inspired by the true events of an Indian ship that was hijacked in Somalian waters. The show is created by Hansal Mehta and Shailesh R. Singh, and directed by Jai Mehta.

Karishma Jangid
New Update

What's new? Yet another mystery thriller on OTT- Disney+Hotstar's 'Lootere.' This TV series releases mystery thrillers from the confines of land and travels to the sea. However, instead of a storm, we get a lull. The story starts with Vikrant "Vik" Gandhi (Vivek Gomber), the port president in Somalia. Rumors say he is going to lose the next port election, and his power is waning. So, he needs to halt a dangerous/illegal shipment coming on the ship 'UK Kyival' from reaching the port. He sends pirates, led by their captain Barkhad (Martial Batchamen Tchana), to seize the ship with its crew led by Captain A K Singh (Rajat Kapoor). From businessmen to terrorists, all eyes are on the ship. In the middle of the ocean, the countdown begins.

However, the countdown occurs rather slowly. The most irksome part of Lootere is its slow pace; I constantly found myself getting distracted. As a mystery thriller, you had one job! Accompanying the slow pace is a plot that promises a lot but ends up directionless. It evokes very little tension and is riddled with plot holes that one can see right through.

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The series introduces intriguing characters like the rational but misunderstood captains Barkhad and AK Singh, the misguided and hotheaded pirate Koombe (Athenkosi Mfamela), the selfish engineer Zafar (Harry Parmar), the missing Ismail, and Barkhad's naive brother, Gaboor. These are interesting characters with raw inner conflicts, but the series doesn't develop their arcs. Firstly, "Vik" sounds very superficial. Secondly, a good anti-hero gives you the constant dilemma of 'Should I root for this guy? Should I not?' Here, I am simply uninterested. The series establishes him as a loser who keeps on losing. Why should we care?

The series massively suffers from the lack of motives. Characters' motives are the primary reason why the audience connects with the characters. Motives move you. However, here, either the motivations are weak or they fail to manifest convincingly in the characters' actions. For instance, Vik's wife, Avika (Amruta Khanvilkar), is distressed because Ismail, their son Aaryaman's (Varin Roopani) friend, has gone missing. But I can't empathize because I never saw how close Ismail and Aaryaman were. Just saying they're friends isn't enough for me to care as strongly as the series wants me to. Why is the port suddenly against Vik? Why is Vik seen as selfish? Why aren't the governments bothered about the hijacking? Why is Zafar acting selfishly? And why is Somalia waiting for a new leader? Motives remain unexplained; we are left guessing. Furthermore, the characters undergo minimal redemption or development throughout the story. It becomes difficult to engage with a story when you cannot feel for the characters. 

Also, Vivek tries hard but fails to rescue Vik's character. His portrayal of a tortured loser trying to stay afloat is very straightforward with little depth in his portrayal of emotions. Chirag Vohra (as Gupta), also struggles to capture the evil side convincingly. Rajat Kapoor's talent isn't fully utilized. Actually, I think the potential of Amir Ali (as Ghulam Waris), Amruta, and all the crew members is wasted. The only two actors who bring out the complexity of their characters are Martial and Athenkosi. Their characters are well-written and well-played. Additional disappointments include inconsistent voiceover, exaggerated dialogues delivered superficially, portraying Somalia derogatorily as a land of terrorism, drugs, and child abuse, and using women characters solely for invoking sympathy or advancing the anti-hero's plot.

Only two elements attempt to salvage the series- Achint's captivating Afro-pop that is too good for the series, and the depiction of masculinity. Lootere reveals how, despite having power, money, and ego, men can still be weak. Whether it's Vik, Barkhad, or even the righteous AK Singh, none of them are as clever as they believe. The series explores how junior men struggle against those superior to them, touching on ego, power struggles, frustration, and miscommunication. However, these two aspects aren't enough to save the series, which ends with a slow, predictable, and somewhat illogical conclusion.

As I said before, it's nothing new. Just another mystery thriller that follows the same old formula without making any real impact.

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