My first impression of Killer Soup was that this is a picturesque location that I would like to go to. Visually, this is an impeccable show. From the color grading that brings out the gold on everyone’s skin as if to say “We’re rich and fabulous” and simultaneously reminds us that this is a show about thieving and deceit to the stunning landscapes of small-town Tamil Nadu, everything is very tastefully presented (if you know what I mean). Before I go on screaming about how the stylization of this show makes it worth watching, I’ll give you a heads-up on what it’s about. “Killer Soup” is what one could call a biryani that looks delectable but keeps giving you cardamom and pepper kernels in every mouthful. This is a thriller about love, lies, deceit, passion, the rich, and the undeserving. Killer Soup follows the life of Swathi Shetty, a married woman with a dream to start a restaurant of her own. Ironically, she can’t seem to master a simple “Paya soup,” even after making it so much that her husband’s face prunes the second he sees it. Obviously, this isn’t the half of it. I suppose it’s really about what one can or must do for a bit of money in order to live their life to the fullest.
Killer Soup presents nothing new; it’s a convoluted thriller, a comedy of errors that doesn’t really shock the viewer with its puzzle pieces. However, it’s almost like having a staring contest with your screen; you want to win, i.e., keep watching until you’re proven right, but you want to blink because your eyes hurt. With the amount of horror I’ve watched, I’d call myself unhinged. But maybe it’s the high contrast and highly saturated design of Manoj Bajpayee’s burn marks that make it really quite perturbing to watch. As may be the case with Netflix productions, this show may be Killer Soup, but underneath it’s “Lover’s Soup.” There is a love story buried somewhere that comes out to play in full force right at the end of the show, which is, in many ways, a journey.
As a South Indian, I’m excited to see a mainstream Hindi-language show made in the South with a lot of Tamil dialogue and actors from across the country. However, as a Kannadiga, I will not shy away from expressing my disappointment in the fact that the protagonists are Shettys, but there’s no sign of anything Karnataka-esque in the show. Nah, I don’t really think this is a representation problem. I’m sure there was a need for Hindi-speaking people (Aishwarya Rai and Deepika Padukone rolling their eyes) to play the main roles in the show, plus Konkona Sen Sharma and Manoj Bajpayee are at the peak of their careers. However, I can still be disappointed. On the other hand, both leads do a fantastic job adapting to the South Indian ways, and maybe it is the costumes that really pull everything together to make it all very believable. Konkona Sen-Sharma shines in this role as a fierce yet anxious little package of energy. Her comic timing is fabulous, and she carries the whole show on her petite, strong shoulders. Manoj Bajpayee assists her perfectly, lending his helping hands whenever required. The chemistry is just right, and given the kind of story it is, they make for a fun and comical match. I deserve judgment for this, but my favorite scene or dialogue from the show is when a female police officer tells her senior that her father will bring out a whole village to look for her because she hasn’t been able to find a signal for a couple of hours. This is the brand of comedy you’re stepping into.
Sayaji Shinde is disturbingly good at playing these creepy old men with no purpose in life except to torture those around them and have it all their way. Tamil veteran Nassar is the heart of the show. He’s got everyone secretly wrapped around his finger. He’s so humble and natural in this role that, at times, feels a little overexaggerated. But he makes it work. Kani Kusruti is fantastic as the resident Malayali of the show; however, the scene-stealer is Aruna Navleker. She’s like the special ingredient, which, if missing, will ruin the taste of the soup. I’ve already talked about how the show is visually fantastic. Another stand-out performance is that of Anbu Thasan as the notoriously innocent Thupalli. This rookie cop is highly entertaining and might be a big highlight of the series. I, for one, really like this dark and moody look for this particular show, despite it being the norm for all things thriller today. It’s a kooky show, very well delivered by director Abhishek Chaubey. His style is very clearly visible. The background score is forgettable and doesn’t really play a major role in the show as such; however, the dialogue and visuals compensate for it. The “bharta” of mixed-language dialogue makes for a compelling watch, giving the surreal show a realistic touch.
I wouldn’t say the show is flawed as such; however, it isn’t supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Is it worth a sip? For sure, it’s worth an entire bowl. Obviously, all things entertaining today are political, and Killer Soup gives you a lot to think about. With Konkona Sen Sharma in the lead, it’s got the feminist undertones, caste, class, everything under the belt. It’s an ambitious project that is somewhat familiar and new at the same time. I suppose it’s been a while since we got a decent Indian thriller that is this much fun at the same time. The show goes in circles, just like Swathi stirs her pot of soup, leading to a nasty and smelly mess. At the end of the day, I’d give Killer Soup 3.5 out of five stars. Only because I’m in the mood to be one of those people with high expectations from the makers and cast of such caliber. Definitely a binge-worthy weekend watch at the start of your year.