Review: Week 1, Episode 1, ‘Quantico’

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Priyanka Chopra for the win: Four reasons why Quantico warms the desi heart.

When it was announced that was going to star in an American TV series called Quantico, the reaction at home wasn’t especially enthusiastic. Hollywood TV show ‘Quantico’, which premiered in USA on Sunday night (September 27), has garnered a lot of attention across the world, and especially India, owing to its cast that includes Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra.The 33-year-old actress, whose debut American series “Quantico” premiered in the US on Sunday, will also make an appearance on TV program “Extra”. “Have a 6 am morning so will leave u all now. Chopra has had an on-off relationship with the media and the public here, and no one was willing to stick their neck out for someone whose last international collaboration was a godawful duet with Pitbull. The show opened to mixed reviews with some calling it an edge-of-the-seat thriller, and some referred to it as having derived inspiration from shows like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Homeland’ and ‘How To Get Away With Murder’.

Despite these, the one person who has been receiving the most appreciation from cinegoers and fellow actors and actresses alike is Priyanka, who has hit a new milestone with ‘Quantico’. The show, which revolves around a group of young recruits, who are training at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia. will premiere in India on October 3. The TV series has been making news in the Indian press for several months now exactly because of that face I saw: it features Priyanka Chopra as the lead character, making her the first Bollywood actor to headline an American show. It’s said that Priyanka Chopra was asked to choose between two Hollywood TV shows – one which was already on air and she had to play a small role and the other was new, but lead role. Priyanka Chopra’s debut international show, Quantico, gave us all this and much more in the pilot episode, telecast on Star World on Monday morning.

While the Bollywood celebrities have been taking to Twitter, wishing luck and praising Priyanka, she has won unanimous praise from her Hollywood counterparts as well. But the initial desi pride I felt when seeing the billboard diminished significantly after I read this interview by Chopra in Refinery 29, a lifestyle website. “I don’t think it’s feminist, but it’s empowerment… It’s got very strong female characters, and I don’t think it’s a bra-burning feminist show where you’re like, we hate men, but we have really strong male characters, too… It gives females an opportunity to be equal with the boys, and I think that’s really progressive.” With these statements, Chopra has joined the ranks of educated, urban Indians who shun the word “feminism” like the plague. It had a heavy dose of drama, and a sprinkling of riveting sequences that left us wanting more (even though they gave us enough plot twists for a season, all packed in just the pilot episode). Yes, she sounds like the annoying Indian who adds a twang to their English because they flew over Dallas or had a five-hour stopover at New York’s JFK. That said, showrunner Joshua Safran (a former writer and executive producer on Gossip Girl) might have to tamp down on the inanity in coming episodes.

Before the premiere of the show, cousin Parineeti Chopra and actresses Alia Bhatt, Sonakshi Sinha, Deepika Padukone, and Anushka Sharma among others had wished luck to Priyanka. (Read the full story here) The New York Times has the most unique compliment for Priyanka Chopra. Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) is a newly-minted FBI agent who wakes up in a pile of rubble after what looks like a massive terrorist attack in New York City ‘since 9/11’. She’s brought in for ‘interrogation’ by other agents because she’s the only survivor, and she’s told that the suspect is one of the 50 people Alex had her FBI training in Quantico with.

For the record, this is how Merriam Webster defines feminism: Or, in other words, the movement is about “empowerment” and social “progress.” It is about “strong” women and equal opportunities. We also have Ryan Booth, the guy Alex made out with in his car just hours before landing in Quantico (unknowingly of course that he too is an FBI trainee).

In that dense Caucasian fog that envelopes its television shows, Taraji P Henson and this year’s Emmy-winner Viola Davis are among those who have made huge strides for black actors. There is also Eric Parker, a very serious Mormon and his roommate Caleb Haas, who is bad at physical training, shooting and more or less everything that has anything to do with being an FBI agent but is still there. The story isn’t always plausible — there’s one twist that would blow away every brainstorm that ever disrupted Carrie Mathison’s peace of mind — but it’s complicated, clever and fast enough that you start to wonder if even the most incidental detail may actually have significance in the season.”

Harry Potter‘s star Emma Watson famously said in her speech at the UN last year: “The more I have spoken about feminism, the more I have realised that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating,” Watson said. “If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. On the second day of their training, the recruits are attached to one another and they are asked to figure out one thing about him or her that is not there on their character profile. It’s so hard for a non-white actor to get noticed in Los Angeles that we ignored the detail that Kapoor, Nagra and Kaur have played leading roles in cinema, but are not considered worthy of anything more than minor parts by American producers. No doubt it helps that American producers want to cash in on Indian audiences, but still, that doesn’t mean Chopra hasn’t had to work hard for this win.

This would have been a reasonable enough excuse for launching the parallel timeline structure that Quantico seems set to follow, except this has already been set in motion: after the opening scene at the blast site, we’ve gone back in time to see Alex meet ex-military man Ryan Booth (Jake McLaughlin) on a plane, have sex with him in a car upon landing, explain in a glib sort of way why he’s not “her type”, and leave, only to lay eyes on him a couple of hours later at the FBI training base in Quantico, Washington DC. We also get snapshots of the other trainees: southerner Shelby Wyatt (Johanna Braddy); Nimah Anwar (Yasmine Al Masri), the obligatory Muslim character whom we’re supposed to suspect; former Olympian Eric Packer (Brian J.

We cut back to the present, and Alex learns that the FBI agents do not want information from her but are merely stalling the process long enough to be able to arrest her. Watching the FBI do its thing in Quantico, one has to conclude that if the real FBI is anything like this on screen version, then it’s a wonder America is still standing. Never mind the fact that this intelligence agency has no idea that two people are passing off as one person (was it Christopher Nolan’s Prestige or Vijay Krishna Acharya’s Dhoom 3 that inspired Safran?). There’s no doubt that Quantico will have to pull itself together in the coming weeks— the writing (by Safran) is occasionally funny but intermittently clunky (who says words like ‘grievances’?) while Marc Munden’s direction is just serviceable. And admit that it was a bit of a thrill to see Chopra do a slow walk towards the screen at the end, looking very spiffy despite the hardships of the day.

Yes, she isn’t all Raj Koothrapali (The Big Bang Theory) or Apu Nahasapeemapetilon (The Simpsons), who speak English in an Indian accent that we Indians too have difficulty relating to. There’s so much recycling in Quantico, beginning with its use of an old Massive Attack number and moving on to familiar tropes, that the show doesn’t feel new. You may find yourself wondering if Abbas-Mustan were consultants on the project, because no one else is as committed to making cats cradles with plot lines.

Quantico is also delightfully disconnected with reality and filled with over-the-top dialoguebaazi, which makes it all the more reminiscent of Bollywood. However, if the first episode is any indication, most of Quantico’s acting talent ranges from mediocre to bad, and it doesn’t help that they’re made to say dialogues that contain phrases like “pontificating robot”.

They’ll fill those grey t-shirts out much better, smoulder each time the camera focuses on them and have just as few expressions as the existing men on the show.

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