Dahaad (2023) Series: Casteism Dominates In A Serial Killer Tale

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Dahaad is a contemporary crime series in the Hindi language of India. It is a police investigative procedural story, in which they try to capture a street-smart serial killer.

The setting of this series is the sandy and rugged terrain of Rajasthan state, India. The gender and casteism issues dominate this tale about a serial killer in this show. These days, it is a really good time to watch some of the quality web series coming out of India. And Dahaad is certainly one of them.

Synopsis (official synopsis) of the 2023 serial killer show from India

When a series of women are found dead in public bathrooms under mysterious circumstances, Sub-inspector Anjali Bhaati (Sonakshi Sinha) is tasked with leading the investigation. As the case unravels she begins to suspect that the seemingly clear-cut suicides may be the work of a serial killer on the loose, triggering a riveting game of cat and mouse between a seasoned criminal and an underdog cop.

Spoilers Free review of the Dahaad (S1/2023/India) Series

Set in India, it is a complex crime tale

A Sub-Inspector Anjali Bhati (Sonakshi Sinha) belongs to a lower caste community in Indian society. She leads a police team that investigates a criminal case. Herein the killer (s) is murdering the young women belonging to backward and lower-caste communities. Furthermore, she believes that a deadly serial killer is murdering them under mysterious circumstances. And ironically, no one really cares. Neither the society nor the local police.

Neither, the families of the murdered women nor the society and police department. So, Anjali takes it upon herself to catch the street-smart serial killer, before it is too late for other women. The story is good and engaging. It uses many truth (verbal/non-verbal) bombs to confront the burning issues in Indian society. So it delves into casteism, gender equality, dowry practices, communalism, et al.

It raises the still prevailing caste issues in India

Off-late we are witnessing modern-day Dalit (and or a backward caste) woman characters in Indian serials and movies. This is a notable development in the entertainment industry of India, as they depict casteism.

“India’s caste system is among the world’s oldest forms of surviving social stratification.

What is India’s caste system? | Article link & Image courtesy BBC

Sonakshi Sinha plays a Rajasthani cop with a style

Sonakshi Sinha plays the protagonist police officer Anjali Bhaati in a very convincing manner. The bold and brash style of her character is worth admiring. The show’s creators have used Anjali Bhaati’s character to give us a rare and honest take on caste, gender and other social issues in India. Besides, there are subtle and not-so-subtle tales about growing communalism in society. She has done an excellent job of conveying these harsh realities.

Vijay Varma & other actors have done well in it

Also, Vijay Varma has excelled in the role of the antagonist Anand Swarnakar, the much-hated serial killer. His control over the Hindi language, especially Hindi poetry is too convincing. He has a knack for playing such a dangerous negative character.

Its ensemble cast has superbly supported these two lead actors – the protagonist played by Sonakshi Sinha and the antagonist acted by Vijay Varma.

All of these actors – Gulshan Devaiah (Devilal Singh), Sohum Shah (Kailash Parghi), Zoa Morani (Vandana), Jayati Bhatia (Devki Bhatti), Swati Semwal (Neelam Parghi), Manyuu Doshi (Shiv Swarnakar), etc have performed well.

Even the opening casting scene hauntingly sets the mood of pessimism prevalent in the air of this heart-breaking crime tale.

Depicts the unique culture of Rajasthan state and the conclusion

This story is based in the small town of Mandawa in Rajasthan state of India. While watching it, you can hear the Hindi language dialogue spoken among its characters in distinct Rajasthani dialects. One can also see the beautiful Haveli (हवेली ~ Mansion) and other historical buildings of the Rajasthan state in its scene.

Like the rest of India, it is also a land where the conservative mindset rules, especially when it comes to gender and caste equality issues. Not to exclude the growing instances of opposition to inter-faith marriages among the political class of the country. We are indeed living in interesting times in India, where old ideas are clashing with new ones.

All of these make this crime thriller an engrossing and relevant tale of recent times.

Kudos to the entire Dahaad team, it is a must-watch series from India, as it makes a brave attempt to weave a few burning social issues plaguing the women of India and succeeds in addressing the pertinent issues.

Rating of the Dahaad (IND/S1/2023) Series

FM’s rating4.05/5
IMDb rating as of the date7.60/10
FM & IMDb ratings – Dahaad (S1/2023) Show.

Spoilers Alert – it is inspired by a real-life serial killer & ending explained

Is the story of this villainous killer based on a real-life serial killer?


About real-life serial killer Mohan Kumar Vivekanand

The story of the villainous serial killer in the show is loosely inspired by a real-life serial killer Mohan Kumar Vivekanand. Also known as Cyanide Mohan, he was an ex-teacher and his modus operandi was very similar. He too hunted for young women looking for a prospective marriage partner. At present, he is serving his prison sentence for murdering 20 women from 2003 to 2009 in Karnataka, India.

What was the fate of the antagonist serial killer at the end of Dahaad’s show?

About reel-life serial killer Anand Swarnakar

The Mandawa town (Rajasthan) Police investigative team led by Sub-Inspector Anjali Bhati (Sonakshi Sinha) tries to arrest the serial killer Anand Swarnakar (Vijay Varma), but he escapes.

Then, after a long and tiresome chase, the Rajasthan police officials Devilal and Anjali with the active help of the Goa Police manage to catch the elusive serial killer Anand and save the lives of at least a couple of clueless women, who had already fallen for his charms and smooth talks.

About Anand Swarnakar’s fate

Finally, when Anand is brought back to Mandawa police station and jailed, Anjali asks him about his reasons for killing so many women and Anand angrily tells her that all of his victims deserved it, as they were immoral and promiscuous women in his eyes. This is again typical gender stereotyping case.

Why did protagonist Anjali Bhati (Sonakshi Sinha) change her name at the end of Dahaad’s show?

Well, it is an assertion of her Dalit (Scheduled Caste) identity by a proud and independent woman.

Historically, the discriminatory caste system is very well-entrenched in Indian society. According to the Varna system of Hinduism, the members of the Dalit community are considered untouchables.

In the Dahaad series, we witnessed several incidents, wherein Anjali Bhati (Sonakshi Sinha) despite being a respectable police official, continues to face verbal abuse because of her Dalit lineage.

Facing caste-discrimination at every step

In fact, fearing the worst, her late father changed her title to Bhati from Meghwal, so that she does not face widely prevalent caste-based discrimination in her life. But, the harsh caste realities continue to haunt her throughout her police career. So, she decided to stand up and fight back for her rights enshrined in the Indian constitution. Being a strong modern woman, she does not like to hide her identity and family history.

Hence, in the closing scenes of the show, she officially applied to get her name changed and reverted back to Anajali Meghwal from the earlier Anjali Bhati. This is indeed a brave and progressive move. Her original title in the name was changed to Bhati by her father so that she would not get identified and face the Taboo of being a lower-caste (a Dalit) woman in her life.

Finally, the assertion of Dalit identity

Still, her new title name Bhati does not really help her, as she faces discrimination at almost every step in her life. Even when she as a dedicated cop, tries to dig deeper into the mysterious deaths of many backward and lower-caste women by drinking cyanide with a similar modus operandi. Despite, the obstacles in her life, she manages to catch the elusive and smart serial killer in the end.

After achieving success, she decides to live up to her true Dalit identity. Therefore, she also changes her surname to Meghwal to own up to her family and her legacy. Anjali knows her life ahead will be filled with social obstacles, but just like before, she is ready to take it in stride, do her work diligently, and move on to much greater success, hopefully.

Poster of the 2023 serial killer show from India

Dahaad – poster

Key details of the 2023 serial killer show from India

GenreCrime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Original languageHindi language. Dahaad (दहाड़) title usually means the “Roar” of a lion.
Released inMay 2023
Age-restrictionsUA (16+)
SeasonOne (1)
EpisodesEight (8)
CreatorsZoya Akhtar & Reema Kagti
CastSonakshi Sinha, Vijay Varma, Gulshan Devaiah, Sohum Shah, Zoa Morani, Jayati Bhatia, Swati Semwal, Manyuu Doshi, etc.
NetworkAmazon Prime Video
About – Dahaad

Trailer of the 2023 serial killer show from India

Official Trailer – Dahaad | Youtube

Focus on the police procedural crime dramas from India

The police procedural crime dramas from India like the Dahaad are being well-received by its viewers. No wonder, in recent years, we have had quite a few series like this one from India, so, here is the list of the same.

Interestingly, all of these series highlight the rather unique working and case-solving styles of Police personnel in India.

Featured & Other Images: Dahaad | Amazon Prime Video

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