Hotstar’s latest show, Lootere, will take you into the dark world of Somalia, where crime is a daily occurrence and law and order has taken a comfortable back seat. The series is about Somali pirates (no, they’re not as stupid as Captain Jack Sparrow) who otherwise live miserable lives. It is reportedly based on the true incident of 2017 when an Indian ship was similarly hijacked in Somali waters by pirates.

The first scene of Lootere gives a preview of what’s to come along with thrills, adventures, cat and mouse chases, tons of action sequences and a lot of adrenaline rush. Many local Somalis run to the shore, some of them with ammunition. Everyone seems to be going on a mission. The haunting background music adds to the urgency the creators are trying to create.

The first main character we meet is Vikrant (Vivek Gomber), an Indian businessman who has spent his entire life in Somalia and is still discriminated against and hated by the locals. Before you start sympathizing with him, it’s worth mentioning that there may be other reasons for this: he’s the president of the port organization and has a lot of illegal activities under his wing. That, of course, aside from the fact that he’s a money-ass who’s somewhat taken apart his emotional fuse. He relies heavily on his father-in-law’s philosophy (from whom he inherited his illegal business empire) that it is better to be a king in hell than a servant in heaven.

Vikrant is running for the port presidency and needs a lot of funds to attract votes and clear his loans. One such piggy bank he relies on is the Ukrainian ship that brings an illegal shipment to Mogadishu to Sonalia for him. The ship has 13 crew members, including the wild captain (Rajat Kapoor), a Pakistani, and two women, one of whom is pregnant.

As word of an illegal shipment on the ship gets out, Vikrant’s enemies prepare to report it so that the ship will be inspected upon reaching Mogadishu, leading to the annulment of Vikrant’s presidency.

One of Vikrant’s partners suggests the unique solution of hijacking the ship and picking up the priceless shipment midway before it reaches the enemies: a suggestion that Vikrant agrees to without even hearing the whole plan.

Thus begins a series of exciting sequences.

Lootere Review: Nuanced performances from the cast

Vivek Gamber plays a corrupt Indian businessman in Somali waters

The cast of Lootere has done an impressive job. I particularly enjoyed Rajat Kapoor’s Captain of the Ship. Although there wasn’t much room to explore emotional diversity, he managed to capture the roles of a leader who knows how to keep his team calm in a disaster. His character also knew how to fire a subtle sarcasm, even when the pirates were jumping around.

The performances of Vivek Gomber and Amruta Khanvilkar are also noteworthy. While Amruta’s character will make you appreciate her courage, Vivek will make you feel all kinds of emotions: anger, hatred, frustration.

However, Martial Batchman Channa’s role stole the show for me. His character had a surprising moral compass and calm composure despite being a pirate. It brings a respite from the otherwise comical performance of foreign actors in commercial Indian films and shows.

It would be very easy to screw up the show with fake accents and wrong casting, but the makers have achieved good results in this area.

Lootere Review: A refreshing change for Indian OTT

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Lootere can be streamed in seven Indian languages ​​on Hotstar

While there are plenty of crime thrillers out there, few have ventured beyond the hinterlands or over-the-top backdrops of the US and Europe. Lootere brings a refreshing change in the form of a Somali background with an interesting pirate premise. Some might even call it the African equivalent of crime shows in Uttar Pradesh or Bihar.

The show takes a closer look at the lawlessness in the region and the disaster situation that continues to exist in this African nation. Although the chances of civil war are casually mentioned in the show, the makers have not delved into this territory. However, Lootere is still likely to make viewers curious about the actual socio-political scenario of Somalia. There is a scene where young children are trained in a pirate camp and then kidnap other children for camp recruitment.

Another scene with a Somali touch that grabbed my attention is an organized dog fight where people cheer and support the dogs to defeat the other.

Lootere Review: Final Verdict

Lootere is somewhat new territory for the Indian digital space and even cinema, which means less clichés. This is a good effort by Jai Mehta, who dons the director’s hat for the first time.

Lootere has all the ingredients of a good thriller and is likely to get your heart racing in a bunch of scenes. The main result deserves special attention. The composers have struck the perfect chord in the music: I especially liked the Somali notes.

From trying to attack without a game plan to trying to side with the enemy, the show has beautifully captured how people desperately cling to every shred of hope when their lives are on the line.

The point of view of the poor Somali pirates is also an interesting concept to think about. Even though they are the ones putting everyone under the crosshairs, the makers have not forgotten to mention their plight and how they feel underserved by the government. It is quite amusing to see how the pirates make human mistakes while completing their mission.

Another notable point that the show captures is the flaws of the corrupt administration and the resulting inefficiency. Unfortunately, I can’t reveal much in this context without giving away spoilers!

Overall, Lootere is a decent crime thriller that is worth a watch.