'LOL Salaam', a Telugu-language web series, is now streaming on ZEE5. When OTT giants are not catering to the Telugu audience's appetite for comedy series, ZEE5 has brought two of them in just a month ('Room No. 54' started streaming on the OTT platform last month). But is 'LOL Salaam' worth a watch? Here we tell you in our review.
Reddy, Varma, John, Naidu and Khan, who are thick friends, have their own set of issues in life. They decide to have fun by going on a picnic. They step into a jungle where hamlets have no access to basic necessities and, worse still, Naxalites live. Reddy accidentally lays his foot on a landmine. If he moves even an inch, nobody in the radius of half a kilometer will be alive.
What the rest of the friends do to save him over the course of a night is what the story is about.
None of the actors in the series is familiar. 'LOL Salmaan' offers a platform to Kivish Kautilya (who plays the man in danger), Srinivas Reddy, Darahas Mathur, Rohit Krishna Varma and others to bring out their comic timing. But they merely scratch the surface.
Pavan Kumar, who plays Babai, is okayish as an Art Of Living trainer. Padmini Settam (as a girlfriend and wannabe journalist), Gayathri (as a Maoist), and Praveena (as a village teacher) are the only female characters present in the series.
The songless series has music by Ajay Arasada, whose work is plain or outright bland at times. Rakesh S Narayanan's cinematography is so-so. Considering that most of the action takes place in the night effect, it was not an easy task for the camera department. Editing by Venkat Krishna Chikkaala could have been way better.
'LOL Salaam' doesn't work as a comedy or a half-hearted survival drama. It has a variety of characters thrown into the mix. But they don't come together to generate tension or humour.
The first two episodes sustain the viewer's interest. We learn about the equations between the friends, how they think and what their immediate concerns are. Babai's character, too, is engaging. Once we are into the third episode, we see the web series unravelling.
The entry of Maoists into the plot should have raised the stakes. None of that happens. The series continues to be lazy as ever. Episodes 3 and 4 are flabby.
In a lot of web series, the middle portions are boring. So, the last two episodes (5 and 6) should have been remarkable. Even there, the drama falls flat, with two Naxal groups shown indulging in familiar things. A TV channel and a set of unforeseen events don't thicken the plot or increase our excitement.
When the characters walk free finally, the viewer doesn't feel their delight. For a semi-survival drama, this is unpardonable.
The six-episode series doesn't do justice to its subject matter. It's hardly comical after the first two episodes. The comedy lacks both wit and substance.