Netflix’s new Indian original series ‘Cats’ focuses on Gurnam Singh (Randeep Hooda), a rustic Sikh man who once worked as a police informer. Years later, he is forced by circumstances to become an undercover of the Calgary police force in Punjab and infiltrate the gang of the region’s drug kingpin, Chief Minister Madam Aulakh (Geeta Agarwal). As Gurnam Singh rises in the drug trade, he is forced to wonder if there is anything more to his handler, the seemingly upright police officer Sehtab Singh (Suvinder Vicky)?
CAT is created, written, and directed by Balwinder Singh Janjua, and co-directed by Rupinder Chahal, Jimmy Singh, and Anil Rodham.
Randeep Hooda is excellent as Gurnam Singh, who once again proves how his immense talent is put to good use in Bollywood. Purush is fiercely intense and inspiring in his debut web series. Surinder Vicky equated note for note, scene for scene, frame for frame in the matter of convincing Hooda. He pulls off danger without much effort – he switches effortlessly between the many facets of his personality in ‘Cat’. It is a fitting follow-up to his stupendous performance in 2021’s Ratna ‘Milestone’.
Geeta Agarwal is very good as Chief Minister Madam Aulakh. Pramod Pathak is a delight as Inspector Chandan. Abhishant Rana, who plays the young Gurnam ‘Gary’ Singh, is quietly efficient. Daksh Ajit Singh as Laadi and Jaipreet Singh as Shamsher are equally good. The rest of the cast is adequate.
CAT is a masterpiece written and directed by Balwinder Singh Janjua, best known for writing Saand Ki Aankh. Mitti, supported by a predominantly Punjabi cast, telling a rooted story set in the rustic Punjab milieu, works majorly to its advantage. A crime drama full of blood and gore set amidst Punjab’s lush greenery, vibrant mustard fields, and innocuous old village-style houses definitely hits the spot – even last year’s similarly styled SonyLIV show,’ Even more than Tabbar.
The playground for CAT is the deep-rooted drug addiction in Punjab. A story often told in any film or series set in Punjab. CAT goes a step further and exposes the connection between Punjab’s debilitating drug problem and our neighbors across the border. It throws light on the rampant corruption among parliamentarians. The unholy police-politician-gangster nexus. The well-oiled machinery of the drug trade, and much more.
Through a nifty deployment of flashbacks. The writers establish the birth of CAT Gurnam Singh, the origins of a drug kingpin, and the makings of a devious manipulator. CAT is the codeword for a police detective who secretly infiltrates criminal gangs at the behest of the police, giving them vital information. In this sense, the first few episodes of CAT are reminiscent of Tom Hiddleston’s ‘The Night Manager’.
From there, CAT Web Series heads to Donnie Brasco and Tabar territory. The defining and differentiating factor in CAT, however, is the deceit and deceit perpetrated by a key character in the narrative. At the same time. CAT also touches the surface of Dalit discrimination, deep-rooted patriarchy, toxic masculinity of Indian men, and much more.
Despite the long length of the series, the fast-paced plot never lets up on the storytelling. Surprise twists and turns add to the excitement of the show. Some subplots could have been removed – for example, the one involving Aulakh’s daughter Kimi stalking singer Rocky. It doesn’t do anything massively for the story, except to drag out an already long story. Also, the subplot involving Gurnam’s brother is too weak to step into the dangerous world of Punjab’s drug peddlers. Ultimately, the story is a predictable, death-to-death tale – the only thing that makes it worth watching is the gritty filmmaking.
Minor flaws aside, ‘Cats’ is a well-made, well-told series, despite treading along predictable lines. A humble, honest, quintessential Randeep Hooda makes it all the more worthwhile. The series ends on a mouth-watering note, hinting at a definite turning of the tables, and the story has exciting times ahead – if it gets renewed for season 2, that is.
Music and other departments?
Joel Cresto’s background music is suitably chilling, haunting, melancholy, tumbling up and down in tempo, keeping up with the demands of the story. Arvind Krishna’s cinematography is superb. His finely composed shots, carefully chosen color palette and camera angles enhance the storytelling