Killer Soup is a simmering cauldron full of piping-hot performances, witty writing, and a pinch of the bizarre. Abhishek Chaubey’s brainchild stirs up a concoction that is both deliciously dark and hilariously absurd. In the ever-revolving corridors of streaming content, Killer Soup is that rare show that never misses a beat.
Co-written by Chaubey along with Harshad Nalawade, Anant Tripathi, and Unaiza Merchant, the riveting crime thriller boasts a stellar cast led by the formidable duo of Manoj Bajpayee and Konkona Sen Sharma. But, the onus of carrying the story does not just lie on their (albeit very capable) shoulders.
In a world where nothing is as it seems, Killer Soup introduces us to an aspiring yet talentless home chef, Swathi Shetty (Konkana Sen Sharma), who has harboured one dream all her life: a restaurant of her own, despite being a mind-bogglingly terrible cook. But things go awry when her husband dies. Swathi masterfully concocts a scheme to replace her husband, Prabhakar (Manoj Bajpayee), with her lover, Umesh (also played by Bajpayee).
The story, set against the lush backdrop of the fictional Mainjur (which sounds similar to Minjur, an actual town in Tamil Nadu), takes unexpected turns as it delves into the depths of deception, masked with the scenic beauty of the surroundings. There is blackmail, kidnapping, drug empires, and lots of deaths—both accidental and intentional—all rooted amid toxic family drama all too familiar to desi folks and Shakespeare aficionados everywhere.
Chaubey, known for his directorial brilliance in films like Udta Punjab and Sonchiriya, honed his directorial skills under the patronage of one of the finest filmmakers working in the world right now: Vishal Bhardwaj. He began his career as an associate director and co-writer for Bhardwaj gems like Makdee, Omkara, and Kaminey. And that experience shines brightly in Killer Soup.
He infuses Killer Soup with rich world-building and a splendid sound design that elevates the central story, which is essentially a cat-and-mouse chase because the audience already knows who committed the crimes and how. The vibrant greenery of the hill station creates a visually captivating backdrop for the unfolding mystery.
The characters in Killer Soup are a delightful ensemble, each with their intriguing quirks and motivations. There are no heroes in this absurdist tale, and the tension keeps you constantly guessing where the labyrinthine plot is headed. The storytelling is reminiscent of Chaubey’s previous works, but here, he is more confident with his fresh, dark lens on a sinister comedy of errors.
The series brilliantly combines thriller elements, suspense, and constant betrayal, garnished with lethal shrooms and Kalaripayathu-inspired fight choreography. The music that ranges from Nina Simone’s ‘Sinnerman’ to Mozart and Offenbach splendidly underscores the terrifically written tale replete with haggish, witchy women—one a cook, the other a hairdresser; both —and spectres in neon yellow raincoats. Chaubey can cook up a mini-series with Vaishali Bisht’s kooky khansama and her hairdresser frenemy, Mallika Prasad Sinha’s Zubeida, and I would tune in in a heartbeat.
The two lead actors, the powerhouse Konkona Sen Sharma and Manoj Bajpayee deliver standout performances, with Bajpayee impressively portraying dual roles, seamlessly shifting between Prabhakar and Umesh. Nassar, in the role of Inspector Hassan, with his portrayal of a traumatised senior cop on the verge of retirement, is pitch-perfect. His chemistry with Anbu Thasan, who plays the fledgling junior cop Thupalli, is veritably spooky good. Veteran baddie Sayaji Shinde is as unnervingly menacing as always.
Before you catch yourself thinking how it is ridiculous to have Bajpayee play two different characters and no one notices it, remember that reality is often stranger than fiction. Loosely based on a 2017 Telangana murder case, not only did a woman named Swathi Reddy murder her husband, but she then tried to pass off her lover as her husband after disfiguring his face with acid. And, it was indeed mutton soup that got her caught, as per Deccan Chronicle. The real-life inspiration behind Killer Soup makes this series even more delectable.
In the end, Killer Soup serves up a steaming bowl of entertainment, leaving you craving for more. The series, with its finely tuned performances, chaotic storyline, and the lush mystique of Mainjur, is a feast for all who love to nervously giggle at murder and mayhem.
You can stream Killer Soup on Netflix and catch the trailer here: