'POW: Bandi Yuddh Ke' is 'Homeland' with more heart

Nov 09, 2016, 12:45 IST | The Hitlist Team

Adhering to the cliches of Indian television, Nikkhil Advani's 'POW: Bandi Yuddh Ke', which went on air on Monday evening, was riveting. At its core, the story sets off on a more emotional note than its Hollywood counterpart 'Homeland'

A still from POW: Bandi Yuddh Ke and Homeland
A still from 'POW: Bandi Yuddh Ke' and 'Homeland'

Adhering to the clichés of Indian television, Nikkhil Advani's 'POW: Bandi Yuddh Ke', which went on air on Monday evening, was riveting. The director utilised the show's 38-minute runtime effectively to highlight the lives of two grieving families whose sons have been 'missing in action' for the last 17 years, ever since the 1999 Kargil War.

As the story takes us through the forlorn lives of the spouses of the Prisoners of Wars — Squadron Leader Imaan Khan (Satyadeep Mishra) and Subedar Sartaj Singh (Purab Kohli) — we meet Sartaj's wife Harleen (Amrita Puri), a bahu-turned-into-shabash-beta, compensating her pain with professional degrees. She was left at the wedding pyre within minutes of tying the knot (we are told in flashback) and has spent close to two decades wondering what her relationship status is.

Imaan's wife Nazneen (Sandhya Mridul) apes Homeland's Jessica Brody (Morena Baccarin), who is set to start afresh by finding love in her husband's brother. In an effective Diwali scene, her mother-in-law melodramatically disapproves of the alliance even as Nazneen's children celebrate the union. This perceptive angle in the story could snowball into a well-rounded reason for conflict in Imaan and Nazneen's relationship later. Homeland, too, goes down that road in its first season, but with ties of blood involved in an Indian set up, this will be a facet worth looking out for.

At its core, the story sets off on a more emotional note than its Hollywood counterpart. The focus here is on the pain and plight of the families and the psyche of the men involved with a passing reference about them being a potential threat to national security. The pilot episode of Homeland kickstarts with an asset in Iraq warning the prime character Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) about a POW returning after having being turned over by the Al Qaeda.

It is established in the first episode that there is more to Agent Nicholas Brody than what meets the eye and over the next few ones from the series, the nail-biting tone is set. One can possibly attribute this difference in approach to the audience (Indians like their drama, and security threat is close to home for Americans), but until now, Homeland appears more spine-chilling and immersive. POW can be best described as heart wrenching, in a non-suspenseful way (more so if you are suffering from a Homeland hangover).

A few characters from the American adaptation have been mirrored in Advani's version. The Indian Intelligence expert played by Manish Chaudhary, much like Carrie's role, predicts an impending agenda of the POWs but comes closer to the brooding personality of Saul Berenson, Carrie's mentor in Homeland. While it aids in etching the underlying theme of the series, the treatment given to the two adaptations are significantly distanced from one another.

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