Because several readers appreciated the recommendation of Informer last Thursday, I now invite you to turn your attention to a riveting Indian drama, Dahaad, an eight episode series also on Prime. Cowritten by two women, their show studies patriarchy and caste politics through the lead character of Anjali Bhaati, a police inspector proving herself in a man’s world, defying the tradition of an arranged marriage. A young woman goes missing in the small town of Mandawa, presumably for an inter-caste marriage to her boyfriend. While trying to solve this case, Anjali finds out about other missing women. Many were anonymous corpses in the morgue, seemingly dead by suicide. She declares a serial killer on the loose.
Comparisons to The Fall come to mind: viewers know the perpetrator early on and then follow a cat-and-mouse plot as a resolute female detective tries to capture the male perpetrator. Just as Paul Specter is a family man, social worker and unlikely psychopath, so too Anand Swarnakar, a soft-spoken husband, father, college lecturer.
Anand finds, courts and then murders women from the lower caste. (No violence alert necessary.) His victims are in their late twenties or early thirties, unmarried, from poor families who can’t afford a dowry. When the women secretly leave home to elope with Anand, their parents seldom report them missing. Sadly, shockingly, escaping the burden of a dowry relieves the parents’ shame of a runaway daughter.
In the genre of police procedural, Dahaad delivers a penetrating critique of societal ills in northwestern India. The series deserves a top rating of ♦♦♦♦♦.
P.S. Out of curiosity, I looked up the translation of Dahaad: “a Hindi word that means roar in English. It is a strong and loud noise that either humans or animals make to indicate their strength, power, or hostility.” I leave it to you to determine what the title reveals about the show.