Clutch is India’s first Esports drama produced by Dice Media and directed by Ruchir Arun and Manuja Tyagi. The web series is available for streaming on the Dice Media channel on YouTube.
The primary focus of Clutch is Arun (Vishal Vashishtha) and the culture of Esports gaming as a whole in India. Arun is a gifted gamer who had the chance to make it big when he was younger but due to pushback from his father, he was forced to give it all up.
After several years, in a soul-crushing corporate IT job, Arun has had enough and thanks to the constant pestering of his new teenage friend, Adil, and a meeting with his old gaming teammate, Shekhar, he’s inspired to quit his job and start an Esports team of his own to compete in the upcoming World Gaming Championships.
His team consists of an eclectic mix of people from all walks of life, each with their own personal obstacles to overcome. Adil (Tirth Joisher) is the typical kid gamer who takes everything too lightly and needs to develop some maturity when it comes to his decision making.
Prachi (Ahsaas Channa) is a professional badminton player who got into gaming while recovering from a serious injury, which is why she doesn’t consider it as a top priority like the others. Jeetu (Saurabh Ghadge) is a delivery boy who comes from a humble background, and it shows in his hesitance to accept that he’s part of a more distinguished group now and needs to project more confidence.
Raunak (Prateek Pachauri) is an experienced pro who has severe anger issues that hinder his growth. He needs to learn how to channel his anger and work with a team rather than do it all on his own. The four of them get together with their coach, Arun, to prove all their doubters wrong and achieve the dream of accomplishing big things in the world of Esports.
With just 5 episodes, the actors aren’t given enough room to really showcase their acting chops with the screen time spread quite thin between the main leads.
Vishal Vashishtha understandably gets the majority of the spotlight and while his portrayal wasn’t bad per se, it didn’t really stand out either. Prateek Pachauri really shines in his role as the hot-headed gamer that is prone to rage quitting. His portrayal is sure to relate with the viewers who have actually met people like that in real life.
Tirth Joisher’s impression of the immature and impatient youngster is quite annoying, which is a good thing. He manages to get the character spot on which is a testament to his acting abilities.
Ahsaas Channa and Saurabh Ghadge are the least interesting members of the group, with their performances serviceable at best.
Given that this concept hasn’t been explored before in India, the showrunners do a great job capturing the emotion that is usually on display during competitive gaming.
By the end, they have the audience really invested in the outcome of the game, following the ebb and flow of the participants involved.
The technical research put into the show is on point, with many of the analysis segments and terminologies used quite accurately which has to be appreciated. The scriptwriters have made good use of the common gaming slang that is very much prevalent in real life.
The moments of product placement where the characters are giving the sponsors a plug are extremely jarring and do not feel natural at all. While can understand the requirement to appease the people behind the production of the series, this sort of blatant brand integration doesn’t usually sit well with audiences.
The series definitely needed to be longer in order to tell a better story. While a mild suspension of belief is required while taking in these types of media, a single episode dedicated to assembling the team and another to signify a week of training and the growth from four individuals to a well-functioning team certainly felt rushed.
Having more episodes would have allowed the showrunners to give each of the characters more focus, allowing the audience to actually form a bond and root for them with more intensity.
‘Clutch’ is a decent series that may not set the world on fire but has surely opened the doors for others to explore this niche genre. Members of the Indian gaming community will be pleased with the representation being given and the series may also inspire others to chase their own dreams of getting into the world of Esports.
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