Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo is set in the fictional place called Rann Pradesh, where Savitri (Dimple Kapadia) runs her empire from a large haveli (mansion), operating under a front called Rani Cooperative. She and her small army of female workers create a more potent version of cocaine called Flamingo, which they ship out even internationally. The Disney+ Hotstar series, created and directed by Homi Adajania, follows Savitri as she welcomes her NRI sons Harish (Ashish Verma) and Kapil (Varun Mitra) back home. Their arrival sets off a series of events that threaten to bring down her whole business, beginning with the accidental overdose death of a politician’s teenage son. (Also read: Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo trailer: Dimple Kapadia and her women-gang run a drug racket)
Savitri, also known as Rani Baa, is the quintessential woman in a man’s world, one who is forced to step up and become self-sufficient for the sake after the murder of her husband. Originally a banjaran (nomad), she is carrying a lot of trauma from the incident and has become the type of person, who places the business above all. She has recruited her daughter Shanta (Radhika Madan), and daughters-in-law Bijlee (Isha Talwar) and Kajal (Angira Dhar) to help her out.
A few episodes in, Savitri announces she will name an heir, immediately causing chaos between her children, bahus (daughters-in-law) and loyal deputies. This causes a few of them to turn on one another for the chance to run the empire. While it is incredible that Savitri ran this illegal drug trade, mostly without detection for all these years, towards the end of the series, it feels a bit off that after backing her daughter and bahus to keep her empire running, now suddenly she considers her sons as worthy heirs too?
Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo starts and stops its narrative momentum too many times and ends up being far too messy. There are too many characters to keep a track of, as they disappear for long stretches and reappear conveniently to make things harder for the central characters. There is a Frenchman named Donze (Mark Bennington) who helped kick off Savitri’s opium trade, who returns for a reunion. Meanwhile, Bijlee has a girlfriend, Naina (Monica Dogra), on the side that wants her to leave this life of crime. Naseeruddin Shah also has a minor role as a shady ally. And of course, there is the law on their tracks with the purposeful ACP Proshun (Jimit Trivedi) who is keen to expose Savitri’s real face and bring down the drug trade.
As one can imagine, over time, Savitri has gathered a few enemies, including one unrelenting foe named Monk (Deepak Dobriyal). They too pop in and out to become thorns in the family’s side. There are several interesting layers in the narrative that don’t get fully explored, especially with Harish and Kapil thinking they can handle the ‘family business’ over the women who have managed it for so long. But this series loads its characters with too much information, everyone has something to hide. It can become quite exhausting after a point.
Dimple Kapadia is formidable as the fierce Savitri, the series more than rights itself when it is focused on her. But moving on to the rest of the characters, it gets a bit chaotic. Besides Trivedi, there aren’t many standouts in the cast as their characters get caught in narrative stereotypes. Dobriyal’s Monk is supposed to be this big bad menace, but instead comes across as just flat. Many sequences in the series don’t have the intended impact. Even seeing the badass group of women finally take on Monk and his men, doesn’t feel as exciting as it should.
The last episode predictably ends on a cliffhanger and while I admit I am curious to find out what happens next, I hope the second season can iron its multiple storylines into one cohesive line. The focus on Savitri definitely helps.
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