An interesting battle of wits between a con artist and a badass cop

Story: Matsya Thada (Ravii Dubey) is caught setting ablaze the petrol pump allotted to his mother after his army-man father loses his life in the Indo-Pak Kargil War. In prison, he finds a mentor in Anand Pandit (Piyush Mishra) who uses the Mahabharata teachings to prepare him for life outside prison after he completes his sentence. His scam attracts the attention of badass cop, ACP Tejraj Singh (Ravi Kishan), who’s sworn to nab the con artist. And thereafter ensues the cat-and-mouse game interspersed with a couple of con jobs.

Review: As the title indicates, the series revolves around the ‘kaand’ (scams) pulled off by Matsya with the help of unique disguises in different crucial situations. And every episode has a special title, in keeping with a mythological character or critical situation, especially from the Mahabharata.

What is also interesting is the way Anand’s teachings from the great epic are narrated in relation to Matsya. For example, the first episode called ‘Abhimanyu’ draws parallels to the 16-year-young son of Arjuna and Subhadra who fights his way into the Chakravyuha without knowing the way out while Matsya is trying to escape from prison disguised as the jail superintendent.

Even though cliches are dime a dozen, Shiv Singh’s screenplay keeps you hooked. And while there are times when you’re able to predict, the narrative does make you eagerly anticipate what’s going to happen next.

Bollywood has made several big-budget heist films and one that instantly comes to mind with the protagonist’s different looks is Dhoom 2, in which Hrithik Roshan resorts to multiple looks — including an old woman, a very old cleaner to a dwarf and even a statue. Nonetheless, director Arun Bhuyan has done a decent job of narrating this cat-and-mouse chase of a con artist operating in places like Meerut, Delhi and Jaipur and a badass cop on his heels.

At times, the screenplay does feel like it’s stretching, as in the case of the betting sequence. Credit to the actors for ensuring that the onscreen proceedings at those times don’t become a yawnfest for the audiences.

Ravii Dubey does complete justice to his role and plays Matsya with conviction. While he’s unrecognisable in the various disguises, his first getup seems to suffer from a ‘Kabir Singh’ hangover. He has effectively brought out the graph of his character, from his younger days to the training years in prison and the smooth operator outside. Ravi Kishan does a fine job of playing Tejraj Singh and the entry of his character sets the cat-and-mouse game into motion. Rajesh Sharma seems to relish his part as the crooked betting kingpin Suri Saxena who stops at nothing to recover his dues from losing gamblers. Piyush Mishra, who’s played a storyteller in Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha (starring Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Paduone) is good as Anand Pandit, a Mahabharata preaching convict who trains Matsya to use his cerebral muscles and become a con artist to avenge the wrongs done to him instead of killing them and making it easy for them to attain salvation. Zoya Afroz and Madhur Mittal are decent as Patsy’s allies Urvashi and Raju Rajeshwar respectively and lend due support.

Production design by Saloni Dhatrak is good and cinematographer Manojh Reddy has aptly captured action in the real locations of Delhi, Meerut, Jaipur and Sambhar where the story moves. Micky Sharma’s editing could have been crisper to speed up the lagging parts.

The last couple of scenes of the show indicate that there’s more to Matsya Kaand, and the game could get trickier and edgier in the next season. To sum up, Matsya Kaand is an interesting watch for the engaging storyline and effective performances by Ravii Dubey, Ravi Kishan, Piyush and Rajesh.

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