Canadian comedian Russell Peters takes on crime in his Netflix original series, “Indian Detective.” Actually, scratch that, he takes on more than just crime. The four-episode show takes on the genres of comedy, drama, and mystery with a pinch of romance and not without hiccups, but I’ll get there.
As an avid Peters fan, I was excited to see him star in what looked like an entertaining series. And though “Indian Detective” had its moments, overall I found the show underwhelming. Here’s why.
There were too many competing subplots, with not one of them fleshed out in a compelling manner. Even a star-studded cast didn’t bring the excitement I had anticipated. So let’s break down where this series went wrong.
Peters plays the adorkable Doug D’Mello of the Toronto police force and Anupam Kher plays his father Stanley. Although they have a good relationship, Doug never goes to India to visit his dad and there are hints through a minuscule sub-plot of how his dad wasn’t physically around often. However, that subplot wasn’t explored nor explained enough to actually understand what was going on.
Doug is a constable who keeps getting demoted because his efforts to become a detective fail tragically. One mishap leads him and his partner, Robyn, to be suspended. Right after the suspension, Doug hears his father is in the hospital and rushes to India only to find out it was gas pain. However, the audience is made aware of Stanley ‘s real health issues and that he’s lying to protect his son.
While Doug and his father’s story unfolds, we are taken through a parallel story following twin brothers and crime lords, Amal and Gopal Chandekar. Amal is an assassin managing drug sales in Toronto and Gopal is a crime lord in India involved in money laundering. The brothers are working on transporting drugs across the Canadian border to America so they can pay Toronto’s richest man, Mr. Marlowe, enough to build a skyscraper in the poor slums they grew up in. Gopal wants to be seen as a legitimate industrialist and this was his way to do it.
Do these parallel stories intertwine? Yes, but the plot intersections become clumsy and excessively complicated with twists and turns that seem unnecessarily tedious at times.
Besides Kher, the show also stars William Shatner as Mr. Marlowe but unfortunately, the star power could not save the show. Peters is the highlight of the show with his acting and impeccable comic delivery. He sticks to what he’s good at and truly carries the show with the material he’s provided.
Humza Haq is a pleasure to watch, partly because the lashes on this man are to die for. Haq plays the double role of twin brothers Amal and Gopal. Haq demonstrates versatility with his ability to switch between a solid Canadian accent for Amal and a Hindi and British accent for India-based Gopal. The rest of the cast was not as skilled when it came to accents. The supporting cast had some tragic Hindi. There were scenes I had to rewind multiple times to understand their Hindi. Thank God for subtitles!
The “Indian Detective” was poorly written and takes on more than it can chew in terms of genre and plot. The series is unable to do justice to comedy or crime. The jokes rely on tired cliches such as corrupt cops, cows, cab drivers, gay jokes, and lack of hygiene. The show attempts to re-create works like “Spy,” “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and “Jump Street 21, but doesn’t hit the mark.
Overall, the first episode was exhausting, and the second episode dragged. However, the second half of the series was better infused with suspense and action. The series ends with a cliffhanger with an obvious setup for a second season complete with a new crime lord coming after Doug.
It doesn’t take detective work to figure out early in this series that at best, this show was tolerable, but that’s setting the bar plenty low. Will I tune into the second season if and when it comes? Yes, but only because I’m not ready to write off Peters just yet.