Rudra: The Edge of Darkness is the official desi adaptation of British crime drama Luther. I hadn’t seen Luther when I went in to watch the first three episodes of Rudra and, while I came out well entertained, going back to check out the original source gave me a feeling of deja vu. The Indian adaptation is well executed in its own right, but some might say it’s faithful to a fault. Ajay Devgn takes the place of Idris Elba, and Raashi Khanna replaces Ruth Wilson along with other changes, but the core stories of each episode remain the same.
The show follows Devgn as DCP Rudraveer Singh as he resumes work in the Special Crimes Unit from a prolonged period of suspension following a controversial case. With six episodes, the follows a somewhat case-of-the-week structure, with one larger narrative playing through in the background. The core of this involves a seemingly distraught victim, soon revealed to be the genius perpetrator, of a double homicide, Dr. Aliyah Choksi (Khanna) who plays a game of cat and mouse with Rudra throughout the remainder of the series.
The show’s promise from the get-go is to dive into the sick minds of the criminally insane to some extent, but the first two episodes only deliver on it halfway. It’s really the third episode that really starts to deliver on that idea, but by then half of the season is over.
Let’s be clear here — we’ve all seen this concept before. Mindhunter provided the same thrills, perfecting the idea without even needing to deal with the tried and tested case of the week format. And the cases aren’t that interesting to begin with, instantly reminding me of bigger, bloodier shows that don’t shy away from the darkness that Rudra is trying to emulate. Of course, the same could be said for its inspiration Luther, but I am only operating on the assumption that both of these shows follow the same exact plot.
Ajay Devgn is no stranger to playing self-righteous characters with their own sense of justice that doesn’t allign with the sight of law and order. Despite that, he brings a brooding charm to Rudra, filled with guilt under tired eyes. His banter with Aliyah is fun, but also frankly overly ridiculous compared to the same interactions in Luther. There are moments of levity in his interactions with his partners, with Atul Kulkarni stealing the show in his limited, but fun appearances.
So what about the cases the show presents? Are they really on “the edge of darkness” as the title suggests? Well..kinda. The third episode following a cold blooded murdered fascinated with blood itself is the closes Rudra gets to being as dark as promised. The first episode sets up the framework and arcs of characters, but it’s the second episode that disappointed me. I won’t spoil the details, but suffice it so say that watching ex-army/special forces recruits going rogue is getting tiring in our media.
Side note- I’m usually not a fan of heavily stylised opening themes of most Indian OTT shows, but Inaam by Ananya Birla is a haunting theme oozing with style complimenting the equally cool aesthetic of the visuals on display. It sets up the show perfectly.
With three more episodes to go, am I going to tune in? Yeah, I will. There’s enough here that has piqued my interest and the work going into making an earnest adaptation that feels original despite being heavily inspired by something else needs to be applauded.