Nerd, the latest Telugu series to make it to Zee5, is not the easiest of digital content to binge-watch or consume at once. It's dark, deals with an extremely creepy protagonist Hasvanth Vanga, a techie who's a master-womaniser and a supposed casanova, completely okay with dating multiple women at once; the list includes a yoga class friend, a co-worker, a gym-mate, a cab-friend among many. The series initially normalises this as his quest for companionship. However, deeper layers emerge when each of the women he meets goes missing one after the other. Who's behind this? What holds the key to Hasvanth's innocence? Nerd's premise has all the makings of the genuine thriller and it's a shame that the makers themselves don't treat this material with enough conviction.
Hasvanth's introductory sequence as an orphan appears to, summarise his life. A day that begins with a yoga class, a ride to his office, then work and an evening gym routine followed by dinner; precisely underlining the emptiness of his life. The problem with Nerd is its make-believe nature, the series is undone by the semblance of artificiality and incompleteness attached to everything it tries to say. The reasoning behind the lead character's eccentric behaviour, the laughable inner-workings of how cops deal with an investigation and the ambiguous route taken to unravel twists besides the performances of its cast, amateurishness is the word that best-defines the series. There are so many episodes that go too far in exploring the weird behaviour of its protagonist that it turns out to be his glorification session of sorts while it's expected to do just the opposite. It's tough to digest sequences where a 16-year-old character, a friend of the protagonist, asks his brother to bring a 'sperm-check-kit' from the US and even goes onto 'gift' it to his room-mates. Though it's okay to portray such characters as teenagers who're curious about sex and porn, the filmmaker takes a repulsive, awkward route to explain the same and the series hovers around the soft-porn territory. The latter episodes deal with a lot of medical jargon, including conditions like azoospermia and hematospermia. The director Deva Ganesh seems as clueless about the series as the cops and medicos are with their professions. The pigeon-holed perspectives surrounding medicine and psychology never fulfill the potential of the premise. Though the climactic twist creates decent shock value, the impact would have been spell-binding had the maker known better about preserving his clues and timing their revelation right. The story on paper about digging deep into the mind of a serial killer might have sounded intriguing but it's not fleshed out well. However, it's a welcome change to have storytellers discuss after-effects of viewing porn and highlight the significance of sex-education at an early age. Hasvanth as an actor has a limited range of expressions that don't make his character as fearsome as it had to be. Naveen Abhi, playing the protagonist's friend Bala Krishna, has little to prove his worth. Arjun Ambati is disastrous as a cop, overdoing his mannerisms and dialogue delivery that it creates unintentional humour in several intense situations. The women in the view of the protagonist are largely viewed as sex-objects in the series; so the scope of performance for the female actors like Koyel Das, Nikita Bisht, Ranjana is rather uni-dimensional. Nerd had to be dealt with more maturity and deserved stronger technical precision, alas it's now an effort that goes down the drain. Rating: 1.5/5