Jehanabad: Of Love and War authentically captures Bihar’s political underhandedness and caste violence, observes Deepa Gahlot.

The idea of ​​youthful radicalism and armed struggle against an unjust establishment has accompanied Sudhir Mishra since his first film. Yeh Woh Manzil to Nahin (1987).

He then returned with his most famous film, Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi (2003).

Now he’s the showrunner for Jehanabad: Of Love and Warin the Naxal belt of Bihar.

The year is 2005 and Jehanabad is still a backward, caste-ridden city.

Naxal leader Deepak Kumar (Parambrata Chatterjee) is in Jehanabad prison, causing a headache for the badly injured Superintendent of Police Durgesh Pratap Singh (Satyadeep Mishra) and genius prison warden Tripathi (Ramakant Daayama).

Even behind bars, with the help of prison staff, Deepak keeps in touch with his group, who are sympathetic to his cause of fighting for the advancement of their caste.

As the violence simmers in the background, perky college student Kasturi Mishra (Harshita Gaur), who thrives on romantic films, falls in love with new English professor Abhimanyu Singh (Ritwik Bhowmik). She is so adamant about wooing him that he falls in love with her too, setting off a chain of unfortunate events.

North India, particularly Bihar, is a powder keg of corrupt caste-based politics, and in this charged atmosphere, Thakur Shivanand Singh (Rajat Kapoor) hopes to win back his seat from the incumbent lower-caste MLA (Nirmal Kant Chaudhary).

The ruthless Shivanand Singh, who is superficially pleasant and approachable, is a close friend of Kasturi’s father, Rajendra Mishra (Rajesh Jais), who runs the prison canteen.

Kasturi’s mother Kumud (Sonal Jha) has trouble accepting an intercaste marriage for her daughter, but once convinced, she has a crush on Abhimanyu, who has only one family uncle (Suneel Sinha) – the charming academic with a secret marriage identity .

While preparations are underway for Kasturi and Abhimanyu’s wedding – she easily takes on the role of the woman, choosing his clothes and bringing him food – plans are afoot to attack the city and save Deepak.

While political insidiousness and caste violence have been the subject of many series, writer Rajeev Barnwal, co-director with Satyanshu Singh, has captured the ethos and language of small town Bihar in an authentic, understated way.

The main characters are well developed and some of the supporting characters have been given a fair number of scenes – like the fiery Naxal fighter Laxmi Uraon (Paulomi Das), Shivanand’s all-purpose henchman Dubey (Raju Bisht) and a dutiful policeman Subodh Singh (Shashi Bhushan).

The show’s pace is leisurely, but there are frequent and unpredictable twists that serve as hooks for the next episode.

Rajat Kapoor, who usually plays suave city characters, fits right in the role of the Mofussil leader, who has quirks like capturing every big moment with a polaroid and treating visitors to sweets, saying, “Ghar ki gai ke doodh se bana hai.’

The leading couple, Kasturi’s parents, the sneaky uncle and of course Deepak Kumar as the screen-scorching revolutionary are well cast.

Jehanabad is based on a real prison break in 2005, which is also the setting of the series.

It was just before the telecom boom when cell phones were in use but not social media and biometric security measures that made it easier to forge identities.

If there’s anything disappointing about the show, it’s the unconvincing ending, only to pave the way for a second season.

Jehanabad: Of Love and War Stream on SonyLIV.

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