Review: Confused narrative impedes Netflix scare series ‘Typewriter’

‘Typewriter’ centers on a family in a seemingly haunted house. (Supplied)
Updated 11 July 2019

Review: Confused narrative impedes Netflix scare series ‘Typewriter’

CHENNAI: At first glance the five-episode Netflix mystery drama, “Typewriter,” resembles one of British author Enid Blyton’s adventure series — “The Five Find-Outers,” set in fictional Peterswood, and “The Famous Five” that unfolds in the remote English countryside.

“Typewriter” is also set in a desolate place, the sprawling, uninhabited and ghostly Bardez Villa, in Goa, India.

Director Sujoy Ghosh – a specialist in thrillers such as “Kahaani” (1 and 2), “Badla” and “Te3n” – gets his moorings and beginning right by offering snapshots of the house in dim lighting with four children and their pet dog, Buddy, wondering how to net the ghost which haunts Bardez.

The picture gets murkier and things begin to spin out of control when a family of four occupy the villa.

Peter Fernandez (Sameer Kochhar) has just got a job in Goa, and he and his wife, Jenny (Palomi Ghosh), decide to stay in the villa that was owned by her grandfather Madhav Mathews (Kanwaljit Singh), a novelist specializing in supernatural stories (the most famous being “The Ghost of Sultanpur”) — blissfully unaware that the property is haunted.

The prime protagonist in the web series is, believe it or not, a rickety old typewriter that Mathews used to churn out his frightening figments of imagination, which still stands in what was once his study.

But as the typewriter keys begin to clatter by themselves in the middle of the night, the plot starts to pan across generations and towns, turning the four children, Sameera Anand (Aarna Sharma), Bunty (Palash Kamble), Gablu (Mikhail Gandhi) and Nick (Aaryansh Malviya) into wannabe sleuths.

Sameera’s policeman father, Ravi (Purab Kohli), also steps into this bewildering scheme of things.

Although the core idea is engaging with the eeriness of the visuals getting pulse rates pounding, director Ghosh’s writing is often patchy and convoluted, and he appears unclear as to whether “Typewriter” is a saga for children or adults.

Average performances, with the exception of Palomi Ghosh, who does a splendid job as a woman dangling between a scary past and a happy present, do not help a thriller that could have been much better.

What We Are Reading Today: Our Great Purpose by Ryan Patrick Hanley

Updated 18 September 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Our Great Purpose by Ryan Patrick Hanley

Adam Smith is best known today as the founder of modern economics, but he was also an uncommonly brilliant philosopher who was especially interested in the perennial question of how to live a good life. 

Our Great Purpose is a short and illuminating guide to Smith’s incomparable wisdom on how to live well, written by one of today’s leading Smith scholars, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

In this inspiring and entertaining book, Ryan Patrick Hanley describes Smith’s vision of “the excellent and praiseworthy character,” and draws on the philosopher’s writings to show how each of us can go about developing one. For Smith, an excellent character is distinguished by qualities such as prudence, self-command, justice, and benevolence — virtues that have been extolled since antiquity. 

Yet Smith wrote not for the ancient polis but for the world of market society — our world — which rewards self-interest more than virtue. Hanley shows how Smith set forth a vision of the worthy life that is uniquely suited to us today.