Shoorveer Review: Hotstar Web Series Crashes Before Takeoff
For no reason, Shoorveer — now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar — brings together the (best of the best from) the Army, Navy, and Air Force. It’s really an excuse for Shoorveer to give us jets and dogfights. But the cameras for the new Hotstar Specials series never really took off. Anything shot against the sky relies entirely on green screens or computer-generated imagery (CGI). That last one is just awful. Video games from 10 years ago have better graphics than CGI quality on Shoorveer. Look, I didn’t expect Top Gun: Maverick – it doesn’t help Shoorveer that Tom Cruise’s movie and its brilliant action sequences are fresh in the minds of audiences – but Star Wars did better with its miniatures in the 70s and 80s that Shoorveer does with his computer animation.
Luckily, the aerial action doesn’t make up the bulk of the show’s runtime. But it would be easier to ignore or look past the terrible CGI if the other parts of Shoorveer were functional. As you can probably tell from the tone of my sentence, they are not. The eight-episode Shoorveer – created by Samar Khan (Shaurya), written by Sagar Pandya (The Test Case) and directed by Kanishk Varma (Sanak) – displays no narrative urgency, is filled with clunky dialogue and suffers from poor direction. even clumsier. .
Shoorveer is happy to propel the cult of the army, not to dissect or deconstruct it in any way. There are airmen, “cool” personalities and a rock soundtrack courtesy of Cargo composer Shezan Shaikh. This soundtrack drives the fight and spectacle, which is either amazing or uninviting. (Also, Shoorveer spends more time inside a cafe bar than on the battlefield.) Part of that is due to the pedestrian action cinema – Pratik Deora (Sanak) is the director of the photography – which is never able to get your pulse racing.
The new Disney+ Hotstar series is ultimately so dysfunctional that your mind is drifting and you’re starting to question the foundation itself. Take Shoorveer’s laughable premise, for example. In the wake of a terrorist attack and amid warnings of something bigger on the horizon, a new elite unit called the Hawks is formed. Excuse me, is the enemy hanging around so we can form the force to stop them? Shoorveer says there’s too much paperwork causing delays – and why we need a unit with direct command. But in fact, such forces already exist. Example: the NSG. But Shoorveer’s most laughable suggestion is that the Hawks will drop all ranks. This seems absurd, because the chain of command is at the heart of the functioning of the armed forces.
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After a terrorist group infiltrates a safe place and guns down civilians, officers and a valuable asset, Indian Prime Minister Chandrashekhar Pratap (Mohit Chauhan) asks some tough questions. National Security Advisor Milind Phanse (Makarand Deshpande) is ready with this aforementioned solution, saying the Hawks can be India’s “first responders”. I think he may have confused the meaning of this term. In turn, Phanse assigns IAF Group Captain Ranjan Malik (Manish Chaudhari), who had advocated for such a force decades ago, to lead the Hawks. If I were to continue the Top Gun: Maverick analogy, Malik is essentially Tom Cruise’s Maverick on Shoorveer – except his bravado and excellence are conveyed in the dialogue, not shown in the air.
That said, Shoorveer is largely Hawks-centric. In fact, the new Hotstar Specials series begins with an Air Force candidate in Viraj Sehgal (Armaan Ralhan). And as Malik gathers his team, we are introduced to the others: Avantika Rao (Regina Cassandra), Salim Kamali (Aadil Khan) and Manju Thapliyal (Anjali Barot) also from the Air Force, Shome Banerjee (Abhishek Saha) and Pirozshah ” Perry ” Mehta (Sahil Mehta) from the army, and some indescribable faces from the navy. Sehgal and Kamali are academy-era rivals, while Thapliyal admires Rao for what she has done in the cockpit.
As you can see, not a single naval officer is part of the main cast. Shoorveer only spotlights those whose skills can be showcased during training – although even in a naval training module, it’s someone from the Air Force who emerges victorious. In a way, Shoorveer goes against what it stands for. Why bring together the best of the best from the Army, Navy and Air Force when naval talent seems useless?
Speaking of training, if you’re trying to push the cream of the crop, you have to test their limits. But Shoorveer has neither spirit nor creativity. Take the aforementioned Top Gun: Maverick, for example, which embarked on an absurd but crazy mission that required undertaking seemingly impossible drills. In contrast, Shoorveer just seems to fill in time – until he can get to the final mission – due to the fact that his ramshackle script has no direction, focus, or energy.
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On the one hand, Shoorveer lands on the most familiar enemy: Pakistan. Minor plot spoilers follow. As ousted inter-service intelligence officer General Riaz (Arif Zakaria) plots his return to the throne, he activates sleeper agent Siddesh Vakharia (Faisal Rashid) – who has embedded himself in the Indian intelligence community – to carry out a major attack. But not only does the overall story crawl at a snail’s pace and fail to be compelling, it doesn’t share the tonal consistency and narrative momentum with the Hawks-in-training. As a result, Shoorveer is everywhere.
Pandya’s scripts also have scripting errors 101. On several occasions, character A will talk to character B about character B’s accomplishments or personal life, in what is a crystal clear attempt to convey these details to the audience. . These errors, more present in the first episodes of Shoorveer, give way to scenes that do not capture your interest. This is also the result of misdirection, also evident in how Varma fails to get the same from Cassandra whose performance was more honest on Rocket Boys. Deshpande’s Milind and Chaudhari’s Ranjan also feel a note, Khan is torn between showing a fatherly side and bragging in front of Viraj, and it’s only Ralhan who feels overwhelmed by what is being asked of him.
On top of all that, Shoorveer pays little attention to detail – whether in the military maneuvers or the props that make it look on screen. For example, in the first 20 minutes, after Milind presents his “detailed” plan of the Hawks, the Indian Prime Minister casually skims through it. The document betrays how crudely worded it was. Not only is it a word-for-word copy-paste of a US Defense Intelligence Agency report, but it is based on a document that concerns China, not India. Except that the word “China” has been replaced by “India” in each sentence. As you’d expect from such a stupid decision, there’s no proofreading done, with mentions of the PLA – China’s military – still in place. ????
To me, that’s a sign of what’s wrong with the show. This signals the level of dedication the makers bring to Shoorveer. One that results in a story without a real target. (It’s not a heart-pounding show, thankfully, for the most part anyway.) A TV series with some of the most gruesome CGI I’ve ever seen. (The creator of Shoorveer claimed to have worked with Unreal Engine. If so, Shoorveer is an insult to Unreal’s abilities.) Shoorveer’s biggest crime is that it’s just plain annoying. Everyone involved behind the scenes put in the bare minimum and are more than happy to get that Disney cash. The joke is on Hotstar though, as its brand is on – beyond? — about to become synonymous with these low-effort productions.
All eight episodes of Shoorveer air Friday, July 15 at 12:30 PM IST on Disney+ Hotstar in India and Hulu in the US.