The new Sony LIV Originals’ series “Garmi” Season 1 (2023) is a political drama/thriller fraught with violence and true-to-life portrayals of university politics, exploring the dark corners of the Indian educational sector. Directed by Timangshu Dhulia, this gritty new web series combines several aspects of an arrogant, young UPSC aspirant’s life and serves them wrapped in the cloak of timidity and uncertainty. It follows the story of Arvind Shukla (Vyom Yadav), a meritorious small-town boy who dreams of one day cracking the highly coveted UPSC Exams to bring honor to his family name. Keeping the dialogue subtle and functional, the show focuses more on the dramatic aspect of storytelling, developing each situation with the utmost care and precision. Starring Vyom Yadav, Pankaj Saraswat, Disha Thakur, Puneet Singh, Jatin Goswami, Anurag Thakur, and Mukesh Tiwari, this show delivers an action-packed thriller experience with just the right touch of drama and suspense infused into the plot structure.
‘Garmi’ Season 1: Recap
The story begins with Arvind Shukla, a young UPSC aspirant who hails from a middle-class family living in Lalganj and is out picking groceries with his father, a well-respected local teacher. An important aspect of Arvind’s character that is established right at the beginning is that he is a true believer in morality and honor but is sometimes driven by his anger. As he makes his way to Allahabad to pursue his Masters Degree in Political Science from Trivenipur University, he quickly finds out that education has taken a backseat in higher education and that a student’s future is now more often decided by their political affiliations than their educational qualifications. Being a fast learner, he acquires a leading role in a play hosted by the university and falls in love with a girl named Surbhi, but he also falls under the surveillance of a local gangster and Students’ Union President, Bindu Singh after unknowingly helping one of his goons, who was hired to kill a member of the rival gang, escape a hit. Rebellious in attitude and driven by a moral sense of right and wrong, he saves a fellow student from being molested inside the auditorium of the campus, which gains him a lot of praise among his peers and the local parties vying for power within the university premises, but he is oblivious to the darkness that follows his political fame. Amidst the rising violence in campus politics, Surbhi is caught sneaking into Arvind’s hostel room by Bindu and his goons, who threaten to expose her as a prostitute in front of the campus for her act. Surbhi, having no other choice, jumps off the terrace of the hostel building while being chased by Bindu Singh’s men, leaving her fatally injured. As she battles for her life, the police paint Arvind as the one responsible for her fate, and one thing becomes clear at this point: aside from the dirty power play that plagues the university, the police and administration are infected by gnarly religious and caste politics, as the local police chief, Mrityunjay Singh, an ardent believer in the ‘Kshatriya’s’ duties, once told Bindu Singh that only Kshatriyas should be allowed to occupy the positions of police officers, creating a fraternity of casteist fanatics who would have total control over the executive sector of the administration.
Meanwhile, Surbhi is murdered by Bindu Singh while in critical care to prevent her from talking once she gains consciousness, and this sets Arvind on a rampage, vying for revenge against Bindu for taking the love of his life away from him. The rival gang leader, Govind Maurya, aids him on his quest, thinking that this would eliminate his competition for the President’s seat in the Students’ Union. As Arvind is released from prison after Surbhi’s parents refuse to press charges against him, he devises a plan with his friend and Govind Maurya to kill Bindu Singh, and he carries it out by shooting him point-blank in his hostel room. Thinking it has killed him, Arvind escapes the hostel building and hides out in his friend’s house. But the next day, Mrityunjay Singh pays him a visit and states that Bindu Singh is not yet dead and that he would be coming full-bore at whoever was responsible for his friend’s tragic condition.
‘Garmi’ Season 1: Ending
Arvind is captured by the police for the attempted murder of a few of Bindu Singh’s men who had attacked him, and they torture him in prison, which gradually helps turn his image into that of a revolutionary student leader. While in prison, Arvind tactfully makes a deal with the jailer to take down a known pedophile, Dilbagh Singh, who was serving a sentence in the same compound in exchange for police protection, books to study for his exams, and good food. As the university exams approach, he is finally acquitted of his crimes and released from prison after Govind Maurya and his father pull some strings to get rid of the witnesses, and the case is thrown out. He reaches his friend’s house and begins his studies only a couple of days prior to the examinations, but being gifted with a good memory, he manages to sit for the exam with enough confidence to pass.
After the exams, as the holidays are declared, Arvind travels back to Lalganj, accompanied by Brijesh Sonkar, a boy hired by Govind Maurya to protect him from any kind of political blowback. While at home, Brijesh falls in love with Arvind’s younger sister, Radhika, much to Arvind’s discontent, as he thinks Brijesh’s lifestyle is not suitable for a girl like his sister. But Brijesh misunderstands him by assuming that he is a casteist and that he doesn’t want him to be involved with Radhika because he is a Dalit, and he decides to leave their house the next day. And as soon as he does, both of Arvind’s sisters are kidnapped by Dilbagh Singh, who appears to have been released from prison and is now seeking revenge against Arvind for shanking him in prison. Arvind calls Brijesh and desperately asks for his help, explaining the situation to him, and he agrees to help. They succeed in rescuing Arvind’s sisters, but Brijesh dies in the attempt as he is caught in an explosion caused by one of his own bombs. In the meantime, Govind Maurya had been caught on tape vandalizing the university premises, and a warrant had been issued for his arrest, forcing his father to remove him from the race for student president in the next university elections, choosing Arvind as his replacement. This enrages Govind, and he plans to remove Arvind from the scene permanently so he can again fight the elections. Therefore, he hires men from outside the region to kill Arvind, but he manages to escape and thinks that Mrityunjay Singh orchestrated the attack on his life. Once he returns to the university, he is declared the prime candidate for Student President from Govind Maurya’s party in the upcoming elections, and suddenly he finds himself deeply engulfed in the toxic power play that he had once feared, but he learns to enjoy his newfound power and influence. The season ends with Arvind kissing Ruchita in the same room where Surbhi once had been caught and threatened by Bindu Singh. The only difference this time was that the door was kept open, and there were armed guards outside to keep people out of the room, creating a symbolic representation of the meteoric development of Arvind’s character from a rebellious boy with dreams of becoming a public servant to a man running for the Students’ Body President with future political aspirations.