When Rohit Shetty (Sushwanth Prakash is also credited as director) drops a cop series, you fasten your seatbelt expecting to go on a fast-paced ride full of car chases, high octane fight scenes, bristling drama, herogiri, dialoguebaazi, and a pace that leaves you gasping for breath.
It's what Shetty does best. He is the first (and only) Indian filmmaker to have built a super hit cop universe, so there has been tremendous excitement around the series mainlining Kabir Malik (Sidharth Malhotra), Vikram Bakshi (Vivek Oberoi), and Tara Shetty (Shilpa Shetty).
Expanding the super cop universe
The series exists because Shetty's super cop universe is huge. It's a formula that works. Each year, an A-list actor gets added to the already impressive cast list. It was a winning idea to spin this franchise into a web series. However, Indian Police Force is more aligned to television shows like Crime Patrol and not his Singham, Simba, and Sooryavanshi brand of cinema.
In a bid to perhaps differentiate between his movie franchise and the web series, the director opts for a different tone. This one delves more into drama, attempts at light humour, and romantic songs. I was not expecting only two action scenes at the end of four episodes, neither of which involved cars. If that's what you're after, then the supercharged finale episode has enough car-nage. That means lots of crashing cars, fistfights, and shootouts.
What’s the plot?
Tragedy strikes early in the series as it opens with a series of explosions happening in the Indian capital. Cops swing into action. It's a formula that works always: good cop DCP Malik is out to get the bad guy Zarar (Mayyank Taandon), who somehow doesn’t evoke much menace. Some scenes gave me flashes of Anurag Kashyap's Black Friday and Mani Ratnam's Dil Se in terms of story, but not storytelling.
The plot is basic; a wanted terrorist with Kabir, Tara, and Vikram on his tail. There is purpose but little momentum. A cop gets killed; another one is suspended for breaking rules; there’s friction between superior and junior officers—we've seen it all before.
We also get to see the making of a terrorist, his dual life, and how it impacts his family. This isn't a spoiler; it's just an indication of what to expect. That's both a boon and a curse of franchise material. A boon because the formula exists and now the writers can work with that. A curse because the audience knows what to expect, and that's also what they are paying for, and yet they still want to be dazzled.
It's up to the writers to deliver dhansak in a world of plain dal, dal tadka, and dal fry. Basically, use the same ingredients, add a few new ingredients, and deliver an exotic dish for the franchise fanboys.
Where heroism triumphs realism
All of Shetty's cops here are super cops. Heroism trumps realism: no bad cops exist in the Shetty copverse. These cops are fearless enough to take bombs into their own hands, drive booby-trapped cars, and even run with a bag full of explosives away from the crowds—three different actors, three different scenes. They don't wear bullet proof jackets, yet jump into a gun fight.
The boys even indulge in scenes of placid domesticity. For instance, Kabir's mom drops in with lunch in the middle of an operation and leaves him with, "Share your lunch with your colleagues." In another scene, Kabir's mother says, "You should wear the uniform more often. You look so good in it." Truer words were never spoken. Even though almost everything lead actor Siddharth Malhotra wears on the show seems to be spray painted on him. How could anyone possibly get into such tight shirts and do action scenes? That aside, Malhotra has a certain stillness that translates into charisma on screen. Sign him up to join the cops on the big screen in Shetty's next franchise.
Indian Police Force screams its unabashed commitment to style over substance with slick action sequences, honest cops, and a deep love for one's duty and country.