Shiksha Mandal review: Keeps you thoroughly riveted!
What: MX Players Shiksha Mandal starring Gulshan Devaiah is a murky tale of scam, scandal and the sinister that keeps you thoroughly riveted
OTT web series Shiksha Mandal synopsis
Based on true incidents, Shiksha Mandal chronicles a deadly education scam involving the medical coaching institute in Bhopal.
The social thriller written and directed by Syed Ahmed Afzal reveals corruption, criminal conspiracy, cheating and fraud at myriad levels which affect the aspiring and vulnerable students in India.
When Aditya's ( Gulshan Devaiah) sister goes missing on the day when her entrance results are announced following , his world turns upside down when the scheme of things hint to an abduction and a sinister ransom.
Police also finds the dead body of an Ex-MLA's son and linkage to the abduction is suspected. While the case is handed to the STF, headed by a no-nonse cop,
Anuradha ( Gauhar Khan),owing to its complex character and public pressure, a dismayed Aditya pursues his search on his own, oblivious of the grave nexus between the unscrupulous administration,some bureaucrats and a Gunda, Dhansu Yadav( played by Pawan Malhotra).
Afzal, who made the blood bank scandal thriller Laal Rang in 2016, exhibits a nuanced understanding of the subject and the ground realities and garnishes it with dollops of intrigue to the solid writing by Akhilesh Jaiswal and Piyush Dinesh Gupta,who is also a co-producer of the 9 episode series.
Under Subhransu Das's lenses, Indore and Bhopal are captured intricately and Sikandar Ahmad's production design articulates and crafts a dense underbelly atmospherics to explore the deep rooted mafia malfeasance.
The background score by Aditya Bedekar is impressive; particularly when it gives a cowboy westerner beats to the local gangster Madho ' Totla' Donald. It's a funny track !
The narrative curve is however clunky and underwhelming when it comes to the personal worlds of Aditya and his fiancée Shivani , and Anuradha who is undergoing a divorce with his social influencer and Youtuber husband.
But the inconsistencies are glossed with committed and impactful performances. Taking a detour from grey, Gulshan Devaiah portays a positive character, saddled with unfulfilled ambitions and discord. He is solidly convincing and perceptive in exploring the graph of Aditya Rai. Gauhar Khan is confident and compelling. She lends depth and gravitas to the female cop character in equal measures.
Pawan Malhotra emerges as the show-stealing antagonist. The actor is on a roll after his lauded performances in Tabber and Grahan. His diction is immaculate, his demeanor is menacing and his persona is formidable. Afzal surrounds them with a talented supporting ensemble - Rajendra Sethi, Gauri Chakraborty, and the cracker of a performer , Saurabh who plays Dr Nanhe.
I go with 3.5 stars out of 5 for Shiksha Mandal. The series, produced by Piyush Dinesh Gupta and Naam Mein Kya Rakha Hai productions is streaming on MX Player from 15 September 2022.