Resuming our recent series of posts about detectives and criminality overseas, this post will discuss a TV series from India. They call it Agent Raghav – Crime Branch. Portrayed by Sharad Keikar, Raghav is a homicide detective working for the Special Case Unit in the Indian version of the FBI which is known as the CBI or Central Bureau of Investigation.
The headquarters is based in New Delhi, India.
Agent Raghav is certainly brilliant. He notices everything, and is especially astute in taking note of body language and facial expressions. In most of the cases, we will have to depend on him to tell us what we know and that’s because we won’t always notice what he does. That said, the series often takes great pains to show the obvious. Which is another way of saying that there’s an overabundance of reaction shots. Especially between Raghav and his boss.
My problem with Agent Raghav is that he’s good, and he knows it. Which is another way of saying that he is a bit conceited.
His Supervisor in the unit is Agent Trisha Deewan who is played by Aahana Kumra. She’s a tall and willowy woman who is actually quite attractive. She’s particularly driven to succeed in the ranks of the CBI.
And that often leads to differences of opinions between Raghav and Deewan. That said, despite their differences in how to best go about solving a particular case, there’s also a strong subtext of a mutual attraction between them.
Rounding out the unit are two lower ranked agents – Danish Pandor as Agent Rajbir, Jason Tham as Agent Bikram, and a forensic and tech expert – Agent Gauri who is played by Deepali Pansari (holding the umbrella in the above picture).
The series is airing on Netflix and there are thirty episodes. I’ve watched the first seven and I think I have a good feel and understanding of the series. While the scenes that are supposed to be at the Crime Branch’s HQ – they’ve most likely been shot on a studio set – we get a repetitive static look at the actual CBI Building from the outside. There’s not different views or different angles – no helicopters shots, or even shots of cars pulling up in front of the building.
After a while – it gets a bit stale.
That aside, there is indeed plenty of location shooting.
The crimes are varied and often quite interesting. As an example, the first case involves at least three suicides at the main Delhi train station. All three on different days, but all at the exact same platform location, and at the exact same time, with people stepping off the platform in front of the same train.
Of course there’s a connection between the suicides – but it isn’t obvious.
Other crimes include kidnapping, corporate frauds, love triangles, battles over property and inheritances, and a good deal of cases that you seen before. Not only seen before elsewhere, but done far better on other shows or in different countries.
Yes I am being critical. Agent Raghav the series suffers from over-acting (especially from suspects), too many unforced confessions, and I must say some cheesy special effects. In the first several episodes a technique which we might call ankle-cam was overused. I’ve both seen and wear shoes – I really didn’t need to see that many shoes close-up.
And when a particular fact comes up, like when a suspect makes a statement which everyone watching knows is a lie – Raghav and Trisha always share knowing looks. In short emphasizing the obvious.
While it was fun initially watching an Indian homicide detective team at work – this series still has a ways to go before being considered on a par with American or European detective series.