‘The Night Manager’ (2023) Part 1 Recap: Does Shelly Grow To Trust Shaan?


If our review and recap of The Night Manager feel like a rant on how good Aditya Roy Kapoor and Anil Kapoor look on screen, it is because nothing except them stands out in the entire show. In the eternal words of Poo from K3G, it’s the “good looks, good looks, and good looks” of this show that catch and hold our attention because if not for them, there is nothing interesting about The Night Manager. Have show writers forgotten what it means to entertain the audience, to create a sense of anticipation in them through good storytelling? First of all, this show should have released all eight episodes at once because what was the point of just the first half if it offered us nothing.

The series is an adaptation of the 2016 British show of the same name, but what the makers forgot to do was adapt it to the sensibilities of the present day. The first episode should have just been presented as flashbacks, and the rest should have fit into two episodes. There needed to be more to the story, more intrigue, more plots, and a lot more at stake than there was. Additionally, the way Shobhita’s character was written is a disgrace. When she said, unprompted, that she only cares when people see her in tears, we rolled our eyes so hard at her lack of depth. It might have been better to just make her the arm candy. Honestly, The Night Manager fails to use the potential of its actors, barring their good looks. Anil Kapoor’s performance infuses a lot of life into an otherwise dull script, but it is the actor’s charisma that he has forced onto the screen to give the series a saving grace. He deserved way better than what he got with this script. Either way, with the second part of The Night Manager coming soon, here is everything you need to know, presented in this recap.

Spoilers Alert

How Does Shaan Join Shelly’s Business?

Shaan was just the night manager at the Pearl Orient, minding his own business, when the problems of a young girl changed his life. Safina, a 14-year-old girl, is married to Freddy Rehman, a powerful man who owns more than half of the stake in the hotel. Safina wants Shaan’s help in going back to India, but his job does not allow him to get involved with the problems of the guests. However, Shaan is forced to listen when Safina nicks his phone and records a video on it of Freddy discussing an arms deal with someone. This is explosive evidence of a conspiracy in the making, and when Safina returns his phone to him, Shaan immediately meets his friend at the Indian High Commission. Things are taken to RAW, where officer Lipika Saikia Rao considers it potent evidence to finally capture Shailendra Rungta (Shelly), a corrupt Indian industrialist who they have been tailing for a long time. They finally have evidence against him in the form of the video. But the corruption is strong in the department, and Freddy comes to know about the video. He understands that Safina must have been the one to record it, and he is ready to kill her. Luckily, Shaan gets to her before Freddy and hides her from him. Lipika is going to come to Dhaka the next day to take Safina back home. However, right before she can leave for Dhaka, she realizes that her phone has been tapped and Safina’s location is compromised. Before Shaan can get to her, somebody murders Safina and frames it as a suicide by saying that she was fleeing after stealing from other guests. A heartbroken Shaan changes his job, and Lipika is demoted from hers.

Two years later, Shaan is working in another hotel in Nepal, and the client he encounters gives him a chance for justice. Shelly lands at the hotel and stays for a few days. He takes an instant liking towards Shaan, though his friends and entourage are wary of him. It also looks like Shaan is attracted to Shelly’s wife, Kaveri. Either way, Shaan is extremely vigilant during their stay, and he collects their discarded SIM cards to send as evidence. Shelly leaves the hotel after turning into a fan of Shaan, and as for the latter, he believes he has accomplished what he wanted. When he sends the evidence to Lipika in India, she flies down to Nepal immediately to meet him and wants to recruit him for a mission. Lipika wants Shaan to get into Shelly’s gang and act as a spy for her. Shaan refuses, saying that he has left that life behind, but Lipika is insistent, and Shaan agrees. They set up an elaborate life for him, where he is addicted to drinks, drugs, and gambling and eventually escapes to Sri Lanka to start life afresh after escaping from the police. Each and every step of the way was a set-up, and it was almost perfect until the end. Shelly’s son was fake kidnapped, and Shaan was supposed to be his savior, but he took it too far by hitting the fake goons a little too hard, provoking them to beat him to a pulp. However, Shaan is still Taha’s savior, according to Shelly, and he takes Shaan in to get him treated while he continues looking into his background.

Does Shelly Grow To Trust Shaan?

When Shaan first comes into Shelly’s care, he is still recuperating, and he pretends as if he wants to leave immediately. Shelly’s right-hand man, BJ, suspects that something isn’t right with Shaan’s story, but he has no proof of it. Therefore, Shaan is made to stay with them and told to just make himself useful around the resort in any way he can. While Shaan finds a way to do that, Lipika comes to Sri Lanka because she couldn’t contact him. She thought he was dead, but he had just been unconscious because of his injuries. When she finds that Shaan is alive, she starts the next stage of her plan. With some difficulty, Shaan is able to tell her that BJ suspects him of being a spy and he is an important man for Shelly. Lipika decides to take care of it while telling Shaan to make a note of everyone Shelly interacts with.

What Lipika does is that she frames Shelly’s lawyer’s son under charges of drug possession and blackmails his father to help them get rid of BJ. This proves easy since the businessman that Shelly plans on dealing with, Bargati, is a traditionalist, and he would not want to deal with BJ, who is gay. This forces Shelly to keep BJ out of the main negotiations with Bargati, and he asks BJ to be careful for one night. Here is where GV’s real plan takes place. He sets up another man to get intimate with BJ, and when they are in the middle of the act, the police break into the room and arrest them, as homosexuality is a crime in Saudi Arabia. This means that Bargati also calls off the deal with Shelly, and in anger, the latter decides to leave BJ in jail for a while longer instead of bailing him out.

Back in Sri Lanka, Shaan continues to be vigilant, and one time, Kaveri catches him snooping. But when Shaan tells her that he knows what Shelly’s real business is, she refrains from exposing him. We think that Kaveri has some troubles of her own. She is fairly warm towards Taha, who is her stepson, but whatever she must be facing must have something to do with her family. As for Shaan, he continues snooping and playing around, and he cleverly reveals the affair of one of Shelly’s associates, Jay, to his wife, Mrinal, who she is furious and threatens to expose the gang’s misdeeds to the world. We have a feeling that Shelly is going to murder her in Part 2, but Shaan might step in to manipulate the situation according to himself.

At the end of Part 1 of The Night Manager, Shelly gives Shaan a brand-new passport and asks him to work for him for a month. Shelly promises to take care of Shaan forever after that. Shaan knows that Shelly is bankrupt, and he also has to get to the bottom of his plans and whoever Indra Dhanush is, so knowing that this offer is exactly what he wants, Shaan joins hands with Shelly.

Final Thoughts

It would be unfair to call The Night Manager boring, but it still lacked oomph. The only visuals that stunned us were those of Anil Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapoor. Shobhita Dhulipala was given more to do in the promotion of the show than the actual show itself. We can’t say about others, but it helped us to have low expectations, to begin with. It’s nothing but an easy watch, and if there must be some grit, it will probably be there in Part 2.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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