Dayaa: Moths of Darkness
Dayaa Series Review
Star Cast: J D Chakravarthi, Eesha Rebba, Ramya Nambeeshan, Josh Ravi, Prithvi, Vishnupriya Bhimaneni, and Kamal Kamaraju
Music Composed by Shravan Bhradwaj Dayaa Series Review
Cinematography by Vivek Kalepu
Editing by Viplav Nyshadam
Directed by Pavan Sadineni
यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते, रमन्ते तत्र देवता:
నాస్తి కరోతి నారీ పూజ్యమ్
న హ్ స్మరతి దేవతా!
Both the above Telugu and Sanskrit sayings mean – “If you don’t respect women, Gods will never look at you.” Well, even if you’re religious or atheist, or non-conformist, you can believe in one thing: to be kind and considerate towards your fellow human. That too, if it is women, then be extra courteous and considerate. Why should women get such high respect? Simple – “Without women, we never exist!” Can you just think about your existence as your father and mother’s one-night act? If you can think about your birth like that, then you must be an AI or a robot. Please go back to your timeline. Humans can never think like that and be happy about it.
The light that shines on you is the brightness you transmit to the universe, not the darkness.
Dayaa, a web series, is a remake of the Bengali series – Taqdeer . It tries to be a series of its own. It starts to develop on the original and deliver on the complexity that the original boasts but never taps into. Yes, Vikram  & Kaithi  seem to have inspired the series makers to construct an entirely different world for the lead character, but this one doesn’t try to be a copy of them. We have seen a hero or a very aggressive person hiding it all and living in the shadows of that character. Films like Baasha , Bharateeyudu  have made it a “commercial” formula. Petta tried to re-invent it while Vikram and Kaithi got the tone right. Dayaa twists that formula in a web series that talks about powerful criminals growing more and more brutal. When the authority is unquestioned, it turns into absolutism and that’s the theme of our many Puranas and Mythological stories. A villain or an Asur who wants to win everything and dominate, a God descends to punish them in some form. Dayaa is indirectly that story and also a spin on “Kichaka Vadha” from Mahabharata.
The deepest secret you behold is the Desire you fear about.
Desire has to be fueled by your hard work and positive thoughts, not by your perversion or manipulation. Scheming and manipulating only lead to your downfall in the end. The character of Kabir – a mute assassin, seems to have been developed using this principle. He is fearless and ruthless. There is no good or bad in him, only pure evil. I enjoyed his portions more as his presence grows on you in a way that you want to delve more into his character and see how he thinks in that manner. What makes him so cruel, almost a psychopath? While this character shines, there are two more characters that just appear to be cardboard caricatures. The delightfully negative Pridhvi and his Virat, as these characters are directly taken from “Keechaka Vadha”, just don’t grow more than being generic and bland villains. Pavan Sadineni subverted King Virata and Keechaka by making later a King and Virata, a helper. In the original story though it is the opposite and Virata wants to kill Keechaka, because of his character and not for power. Loved this subversion but these characters needed to be more developed for the emotional core to work.
When you fight with fire you can’t expect your hands to not burn.
JD Chakravarthy’s character is a fire that is waiting to explode. He is a volcano that seems to hide so much magma inside that when it bursts out, it tends to burn innocent people too. JD played this character very well. While there is a throwback to his most popular character, Satya, the actor brings to the table what we have been missing for some time: his authenticity in the character. He is one of those actors who can explode on screen when he believes in the written material and character. He seems to have brought his A-game this time around. Many scenes require him to be believably cruel and at the same time soft. These kinds of characters are not easy to portray, but he did a great job. Josh Ravi has proved that he has more to offer than just being “gay” on-screen. Eesha Rebba did well, but there is more to explore, so I will not say much here. Ramya Nambesan and Gayatri did well in their roles.
Cliches hamper your boldness in trying something New…
The writing is dense and Pavan Sadineni needs to be appreciated for that. For example, take a scene where a pregnant wife asks her husband to come to the house and spend time with her. This is not a couple in love or hopeful about the future. One is giving excuses and another is okay with it. The dynamic grows slowly into a detached friendship or a couple for the sake of it. The connection that Josh Ravi and JD’s characters have feels more dramatic and real. This is the kind of writing that grows your interest. However, the dense material needs relentless focus. The cuts between the past and present needed to add to the story and character motivations. The writing and even the performances of a few actors don’t give the desired result. Kamal Kamaraju’s character is used as a tool to understand Kavya. The person that she is and the kind of sacrifices she has been making for this job and truth. While presenting that part, the density of the material did not reflect on the screen. In a way, divorce and this incident had to bring them on one path opposed to their marriage. Hence, the writing here needed to be more convincing than just some random selfie videos. While the premise of using selfie videos to state the absence or presence of a relationship is interesting, it needed more meat than just an “I miss you” vlog. Some scenes needed more lingering around than being too organic. Believing in cliches is fine but they cannot define something new and bold. The color schemes at places have your utmost attention. While there is not much change in tone, they needed a bit more attention in night scenes. The usage of slight sepia and tinted greens, and browns did give the rustiness. Silence in these kinds of films helps in building up the creepiness and also grave tension in places. Here, the BGM choices are majorly loud, almost not wanting to leave any second or frame silent. The choices are good in some places and bad in others. Consistency would have helped. Sound design, at places, is like we are directly hearing a recording through mics. Much better work would’ve helped in creating the illusion of reality.
A blow to the nail should cement the connection not break the entire foundation…
Dayaa is delightful when it concentrates on Satya-Dayaa’s side of the story. Ramya’s scenes of investigation work are also engaging. But it derails when it tries to show us why she needs to be respected. The issue might be too vague or complex, but with even more sharply written scenes, it could have added to the entire drama. This doesn’t mean that the drama isn’t enjoyable, but it gets into a predictable zone too soon and then looks to engage you within those limitations. More daring choices could have made this one even better. For example, Amar in Vikram leading to the mission and emotional core of Vikram. Dayaa works as the execution is far superior, but then it has some parts that bring it down, too. Thankfully, the moments that deliver are more, and hence, it grabs our eyes for a binge-watch. As it showcases dark characters that search for light, we can almost call them Moths of Darkness. Pavan uses the symbols of Durga, bringing in the point of negligence that we people tend to show towards issues, there are a few more touches like showing Blood Moon – indicating time for horror, Durga – symbolizing the fight back by women, making the hero a prostitute’s son – hence, giving him the emotional edge to understanding society’s cruel judgemental eyes. There are some touches that the writer provided while JD also added a few. His body twitches, losing his grip on reality when in the zone. Hopefully, this season 1 is only a start and has much more to offer in the second. Good content in the Telugu series has been hiding in shadows, but Dayaa holds a torch to give us hope for a brighter tomorrow.
Theatrical Trailer: Dayaa Series Review