Directed by Oni Sen, Asur is part crime thriller, part police procedural made in the vein of similar offerings in the US such as True Detective, Hannibal, Mindhunter, and Dexter, among others. The events of Asur unfold in two different timelines. While one of the story arcs is set in the present day US and India and revolves around a bunch of CBI officers specialising in criminology, the other begins 18 years earlier in Benares and revolves around a boy named Shubh who is looked upon as a curse by his own father as he holds the boy responsible for the death of his wife who died while giving birth to him.
Asur marks the web debut of Arshad Warsi who plays a forensic expert named Dhananjay Rajput. The series also stars Barun Sobti, Riddhi Dogra, Anupriya Goenka, and the ever reliable Sharib Hashmi in the pivotal roles. Sobti essentially plays the show’s parallel lead (Nikhil Nair) alongside Arshad Warsi and both the actors share some intense scenes together. In fact, the mentor-protégé relationship that Warsi and Sobti share is actually central to the storyline of Asur.
Some viewers may be reminded of Jack Crawford and Will Graham from the 1981 Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon—which so far has seen two film adaptations, Manhunter (1986) and Red Dragon (2002).
However, Asur has few equals in the Indian entertainment space. One perhaps would have to go back to the ‘90s to find something of similar pedigree. The best example that comes to mind is the Irrfan Khan and Kay Kay starrer TV series ‘Darr’.
What elevates Asur above similar works of its kind made in India nowadays is how it blends elements of Indian mythology and philosophy with the best practices of western criminology and forensics.
While Warsi and Sobti are both brilliant, Hashmi offers them brilliant support.
His character Lolark Dubey, however, is bound to be compared to the role he earlier essayed in the popular Amazon Prime series The Family Man, helmed by Raj & DK. For a series that’s essentially male dominated, it is really heartening to see that some of its best emotional moments are reserved for Riddhi Dogra and Anupriya Goenka—both of whom prove to be the real scene stealers here.
Asur is co-written by the team of Niren Bhatt, Gaurav Shukla, and Dr Vinay Chhawal. The seven episode series is taut and pacy for the most part.
While it does suffer from hiccups and some of the plot and character developments appear to be a little redundant, the makers nonetheless succeed in preventing it from faltering beyond what’s acceptable. The biggest achievement of the series is that it manages to deliver regular thrills, often in form of quick busts, but without ever going for any big moments.
While Asur’s budget cannot be compared to some of the biggest crime based series in the Indian web space such as Sacred Games, Asur still manages to do a good job of telling a largely believable story, within its limitations.
The series is currently streaming on Voot Select, which is the premium extension of Viacom18’s OTT platform Voot. However, owing to the graphic nature of its content, Asur is not meant for those who are not comfortable with gore and violence.