Sujoy Ghosh’s Typewriter: An Indian Version of Stranger Things or Revamp of Sony Aahat?

Let’s start by saying that we have seen it all. Now, in a world where we chill with Netflix and ignore human existence to the point, that I am all alone in my apartment with coffee and binge-watching Sujoy Ghosh’s Typewriter, I would want to be captivated. I like interaction, I like being grabbed by the collar and taken down a path where I am intrigued, and I want to see how it all ends and yet would want more of it. The Typewriter has disappointed me a lot. The most critical failure of Typewriter is that the plot is very loosely built and the central mystery is never able to grab your attention to that level.  You are totally at a loss, and at the end, you even forget why you wanted to watch this series at the beginning.

Image:The Indian Express

The story starts with an old man (who does not look nearly as old) and a young little girl Jenny, scared to death because someone is crying in her room. What happens next is a cliché, and I thought to myself if it is worth spending my Saturday evening with. Yet, I am a self-proclaimed-ghost-enthusiast, and I wanted to see what happens next. I seriously don’t have a life or friends for that matter.

The story involves four kids, Jisshu Sengupta (who is a bad guy, but he is such a sweet man and has a pretty face, I can’t bring myself to believe that he is a bad guy), a family of four, a typewriter, Purab Kohli (man! so yummy) and a dog. I am a Bengali, and I have read a lot of ghost stories and have religiously watched horror films, dealing with spirits and evil. I have seen or read the texts in Hindi, English and Bengali, so I almost know what is going to happen next. But, this series is so predictable that I am sure it will be the same for every single individual who will watch this series.  The only respite is that the kids portrayed in the series are so talented and the Mother, who has put in a much believable performance.

Image: Hindustan Times

If I had to write an open letter to Sujoy Ghosh, I would begin it with: “Sujoy Ghosh, ki korchen apni?” which translates into, “Sujoy Ghosh, what are you doing”? He is a talented director, and his vision is simplistic, yet he portrays an intangible complexity of mind through his characters.  However, here, in Typewriter, there is nothing that would reveal a complex human psyche. The show is not bad and I cannot question the process that the show has gone through, but the plot never thickens, and it’s like a bland chicken soup which is not for the soul but a sore throat.

The Plot:

The story begins in the eighties with Madhav Matthews (Kanwaljit), who is a publisher writer of ‘The Ghost of Sultanpore.’ It is almost evident that he is a writer when you see him sitting in Bardez Villa (the house where it all goes down) and is interrupted by his grand-daughter Jenny, almost around midnight. Jenny is scared that someone is crying in her room, and Madhav takes Jenny up to her room to assure her that there is nothing for her to be worried about. But, something happens. Next, we move into the present day scenario, where a family of four: Father (Samir Kochhar), Mother (Palomi Ghosh), and their two children move into Bardez Villa.

Image: Wikipedia

The mother is the same Jenny as in Madhav’s granddaughter, who has now become a mother herself. We get introduced to a three-member ghost club, as comprising of children who are cute and way more intelligent than I was at ten. Although Madhav officially died of heart attack, however, there is a legend which encircles the village –that Madhav’s death is related to something more disturbing and creepy. Even the kids of the ‘Ghost Club’ also believe the same.  They also think that the cause of death is connected to the last book which Madhav had penned, ‘The Ghost of Sultanpore’, which speaks of an ostensible, shape-shifting, unnatural body.  The leader of the pack Sam is quite intelligent but misses his mother and is interested in ghosts believes that there is a ghost in Bardez Villa, and now form an alliance with Jenny’s boy, who too studies in the same class as the three of them. Sam’s father (Purab) is a policeman and is practical but soft-hearted. There is Amit (Jisshu) who is a serial killer but also teaches maths in the same school where all the children gather, to make grand schemes of catching ghosts. There is a Fakeer (Abhishek Banerjee), who will have an almost “Mera Baap Chor Hai” incident and is the bad guy here.

Image: Netflix

However, the dog owned by Sameera deserves a special mention here. This golden-coloured-amazement is one of the members of the ‘Ghost Club” and is the ‘snowy’ to Sam. Through the episodes, we get to familiarize with the stories of each of the characters and even Fakeer, who is the spirit and is the shape-shifter creating the entire ruckus. People die, things fall in and out of place, and I am trying hard not to give spoilers. There is a cheating man, a plot twist, which could have been done without. The series is mainly set in the present, but it consists of flashbacks to two different periods- the 1950s and 1980s, that tries to add to the drama and suspense but fails due to the main fault of a weak and loose plot.

Also, there is a ‘stereotypical’ Bengali family. I feel attacked. I have been living in Kolkata for 24 years, and I feel that I am more Bengali than anyone else. I have never in my life heard my parents say that I must attend a boarding school or have no clue what Halloween is, or say “I have paid Rs. 200 for a pumpkin”. Why?

My Honest Take:

Okay, 90s kids, come level with me! Remember, when siblings would sit together in the living room waiting for Sony ‘Aahat’ to begin. The ominous sound would play, and then the youngest or the most vulnerable one would be hiding behind the eldest one and watching the show, and now that you think about the show you feel what a stupid thing it was? No? Just me? Okay!

On a serious note, the problem with the show is, you need not use your brain. You have to believe in your instincts, and you know what is going to happen next. Moreover, the climax is created for children, but the series has a rating of 16+, because of the profanity I believe. Now, I am an optimistic person, and I think that there will be a better story-line the next time, and this one was flawed to bring in the audience and give them something to watch so that the premises have been set and the next one will blow your mind.

Image:Netflix

Many people are of the opinion that this is the Indian version of ‘Stranger Things’ but I sincerely hope not! It might be having some of the latter’s components, but it severely lacks in charm, stratagem or that captivating sense of deception. Finally, it all adds up to present a very mediocre horror fare, which mostly fails to scare the viewer, leave aside anything else!

At this point, we can sincerely hope that Sujoy Ghosh, will do better with Season 2 of Typewriter.

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