Based on the American TV series titled Revenge, the Indian show Karmma Calling has managed to hold its own, though it couldn’t escape the occasional campiness of the dialogues. It is a truly enjoyable show, though it takes an episode or two to commit to this opinion.
Admittedly, I had misgivings about the remake of a hugely popular show that is almost a decade old. This was only exacerbated by the trailer, which presented the characters saying dialogues with terms like “tragic billionaire,” “fresh off the boat heiress,” or “the queen of Alibaug.” When did Alibaug start having queens and kings? It is so painfully evident that these dialogues were translated directly from the American show without any thought for an Indian context. The Hamptons may or may not be comparable to Alibaug in terms of its reputation as a place for affluent people, but this series takes it a little too far. Saying that Indrani Kothari is the queen of South Mumbai would have been a lot more organic. But coming back to the point, this discomfort at the bad dialogues is only momentary because they don’t last beyond the first two episodes. After that, it is mostly smooth sailing with the characters and their interactions with one another. I did not expect to be this entertained, and I mean that in a good way.
Admittedly, the episodes may have benefited from losing five to ten minutes from their runtime, but it is a personal opinion since that extra time was needed to connect the character arcs to each other. The actors did a wonderful job, as expected, and Raveena Tandon proved once again that she had nothing to prove. Varun Sood was surprisingly sweet and vulnerable as Ahaan Kothari, and it would have been nice if the actor playing Kaushal Kothari had a slightly different arc. He exhibited a hidden knack for manipulation that wasn’t properly explored in the narrative of Karmma Calling season 1. On the other hand, Viraf Patel was natural as Zane Khan, but it is Namrata Sheth as Karma Talwar who has me in two minds. She is the mysterious neighbor who is always two steps ahead of everyone and never has a hair out of place, and Namrata Sheth plays her that way. She conveys a lot through her eyes, and her strongest moments are when Karma Talwar is acting out the mask in front of her enemies. At other times, Namrata Sheth is quite deadpan with her expressions. It is not a crime yet because Karma Talwar is meant to be a cold and calculating person who needs to act with ice in her veins to bring down the people who destroyed her family. Yet, these are the moments when the audience feels that Ahaan and the other characters are fools and can’t tell that Karma Talwar is acting. There is too much poise and a kind of steady gaze that is evidently a performance. However, I strongly believe that it is a matter of time and experience before Namrata Sheth irons out these details.
Next is the matter of fashion, and I am only bringing it up because of how Raveena Tandon, aka Indrani Kothari, was styled. Namrata Sheth was mostly seen in classic colors and silhouettes with lots of bling. However, whoever decided to add furs to Raveena Tandon’s outfits indiscriminately needs to be questioned. One simply cannot style the lead of the show so badly, especially when it is her face that is carrying the series. The stylist did not know what to do with her. On the other hand, everyone’s hair and makeup were rather perfect.
It is a given that Karmma Calling cannot be enjoyed the same way that Revenge could be. As entertaining as it is, the Indian show makes it quite evident that it is a copy. The change of context wasn’t handled well, except at one extremely extravagant point when two couples fly over the clouds for a glimpse of the moon to break their fast during a festival. Even Race 3 did not have this kind of imagination, and it fits in right with the atmosphere of the series.
I would advise you not to take this series too seriously. It is fun and entertaining, but it has that touch of exaggeration that comes from trying to be something it is not. This is why the vibe of Karmma Calling is so different from Revenge, even though both of them are almost identical. However, with a shift of perspective, the audience will realize that this adds to the fun of the Indian show, albeit in a different vein.
The trailer for season 1 shows us glimpses of season 2, which means that it is not far behind. That is bound to be more fun than season 1, with higher stakes and the initial awkwardness of the storytelling out of the way. Hopefully, it will also avoid the trope of showing gay men as predatory without exception. 2024 is not when these tropes should be getting a place in mainstream media. Indrani Kothari may also be seen in a better wardrobe.
Some more positives of Karmma Calling season 1 are that the love triangle was handled with a lot of dignity, and work has been done to give the story and characters real depth. It is not as superficial as the initial impression makes it out to be. However, season 1 just touches upon the main points of the story. It is a window into what is to come and just how messy things are about to get as the story progresses. That is why this season is just the beginning, and the few mistakes it has made are entirely forgivable and can be redeemed. Additionally, there has always been an unsaid curiosity about Raveena Tandon and her comeback on screen. That is the main reason the audiences are so excited about this series, and it is exactly what one would expect it to be if they were thinking with a positive mind. Karmma Calling is the first Indian series of the year that is an unmissable watch.