THE Indian film industry is said to be the biggest in the world, producing more than 1,000 films a year. You can catch a lot of Indian films on Netflix and now, they also have a TV series made originally for top streaming channel, a horror-drama titled “Typewriter”, with five one-hour episodes.
The story is set in Goa on the Southwestern coast of India. It starts in the 80s at a big mansion called the Bardez Villa when a young girl, Jenny, runs to her grandpa, Madhav Matthews, a well known writer of ghost stories, complaining that there’s a ghost in her room. Her grandpa tours her around to look for the ghost and they find none. The old man then tucks her in bed and she says she can feel someone under her bed. Grandpa looks down below the bed and sees his real grandchild hiding there. It turns out that the girl he tucked in bed is the ghost!
The opening credits are then shown. The twist in that prologue is really neat and jolting, so the same technique is repeated in other scenes. The show then shifts to the present day. Three grade school kids, Sam Sameera or Sam (Arna Sharma), Bunty (Palash Kamble) and Goblu (MIkail Gandhi) have formed a ghost club along with Sameera’s dog.
Sam is a big fan of “The Ghost of Sultanpore”, the last book written by Jenny’s grandpa before the ghost Jenny killed him. They go to Bardez Villa which they think is a haunted house. They aim to look for the ghost but they learn that a new family has just moved into the house, which has been uninhabited for more than three decades.
The mother is the grown up Jenny (Palomi Ghosh), who’s now married to Peter Fernandez (Samir Kochar). Jenny barely remembers what really happened to her grandpa on that fateful night he died, so she tries to find her former nanny to shed truth about what really happened. In the course of her search, several people die, without her knowing that the ghost is actually impersonating her to kill her victims by squeezing their hearts till they die.
The show didn’t really work for us. To begin with, the old and inanimate Remington typewriter didn’t play much of an important or frightening role in the story, so you’d be wondering why the series is titled after it. Sorry, but as a horror-thriller, the show created and directed by Sujoy Ghosh doesn’t really offer any good frights and not even the usual jump scares aimed to shock viewers.
The narrative draws inspiration from different horror flicks, slasher flicks and spooky stories about the occult like the ghost of Fakeer who will return on the night of the blood moon to assert itself and rule as a collector of souls.
The writing is inconsistent and there are elements that remain shrouded in haze, like the sinister Math teacher called Amit who kills people but whose motivations remain unclear. Jenny’s husband is given his own story about a problematic deal in Mumbai and a sexy temptress who hounds him but this is not given a proper resolution.
The inclusion of kids and a dog out for some adventure are obviously made to inject some humor and make it child viewer-friendly, but they don’t really add up to anything much to help make the narrative more tight and credible as some of their actions are just plain hard to believe.
Also, there are just too many explanations about past events in the 1950s involving mambo-jumbo that the storytelling gets unwieldy and really flounders. The show ends with the typewriter, which we think has been destroyed, shown repairing itself and being resurrected. This suggests that the show might have a second season. But we doubt it. In all fairness, technical credits are good, specially the superb production design and the exquisite cinematography that are both world class.