Sunday, December 10, 2023

Escaype Live Review: An honest look into dark world of web and horrors that lurk online

Escaype Live is promising in its premise and how it strings together different worlds with the internet running as the comment thread. However, the show treatment could have been better.

Devasheesh Pandey Devasheesh Pandey Updated on: May 20, 2022 17:35 IST
Escaype Live

Escaype Live episodes are streaming on Hotstar

  • Movie Name:Escaype Live
  • Critics Rating: 3 / 5
  • Release Date: May 20, 2022
  • Director: Siddharth Kumar Tewary
  • Genre: Drama

Escaype Live is now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar. It is a seven-episode series and an honest attempt to cut barriers of time and space to bring together the urban and rural-set stories. It shines a light on the misery that humanity has brought upon itself with excessive use of the digital medium. At times, the show displays real potential in storytelling and the way various themes have been woven together seems well-thought-out. With the internet as the common thread, the show creates a world that is both inviting and repulsive at the same time. 

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By participating in Escapye Live App and contest, the internet-using generation can earn both money and fame by showcasing their talent. Stories run parallel but come together through the app. The characters are based in different places, some in metros, others in cities and even villages but what they share is their grit to win the competition by any means. All stories are interesting and showcase a pressing social issue. The characters grapple with mental health, gender and identity, socio-economic divide, illiteracy and greed and all of their stories are very real and relatable. The show strikes gold in making them appeal to our sensibilities by skipping over pretension.

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The most interesting stories are the ones with child actor Aadyaa Sharma as Dance Rani trying to become the 'big girl' in a world that overlooks younger ones as not serious and Rohit Chandel as Rajkumar, a transgender who is living a dual life and hoping to get his sex change operation done. The emotions burst forth in these tales and it feels like these characters are one among us. They are on the sidelines and society forces them to opt for non-conforming ways to survive. Thus Escaype Live becomes a metaphor for evil born from within the society and not something that is created to condemn us. 

However, the director does not create tension when it could have really helped the narrative shine. In scenes where Dance Rani is being injected with hormones, there is immense potential to cast abhorrence but such set pieces mostly go underutilised. The same problem emerges in the story featuring Ritvik Sahore as Aamcha Spider. Whatever little empathy is evoked for him is through Ritvik's performance but the situations he is thrown into are rather bland.    

Siddharth as Moderator is playing the moral compass who sets boundaries for what can and cannot be done in life and on Escaype Live. However, his naivety is soon done away with. The character is well-written and performed by Siddharth. He does the balancing act well when things seem to be going overboard. He is restrained as a character trying to wrap his mind around the progression of the digital generation. His attempts to save  Escaype Live participants from pitfall seem a little contrived and not natural though. 

Escaype Live shows promise in its premise but treatment could have been far better. The cinematography and music should have created a more haunting experience, making it a horror fest and not just a critique of the fast-paced digital lives of people.