ZEE5’s Kaun Banegi Shikharwati follows the king of Shikharwati, Raja Mrityunjay along with his right hand man, Mishraji, as they device an outlandish plan to bring the estranged daughters of the king back together to save the palace from an income tax investigation.
There is a 32 crores wealth tax backlog that has to be cleared within a month to save Shikharwati. For the past six years the four daughters of the King have neither spoken to each other nor to him so he doubts that they will come now to save the palace.
So, Mishraji suggests that they should call them in the pretext that the king is ready to choose his successor and one of them will be announced as the heir to Shikharwati. Mishraji believes that this is the only way their relationships could be mended, so the king agrees to this plan. Mishraji then sets out to invite all the four princesses to Shikharwati.
The four of them arrive in Shikharwati and the King announces that he will choose his successor based on a series of games that he calls the Royal Games. There are nine rounds, each representing an emotion from the Navarasa.
The king used to conduct such games even in their childhood after their mother, queen Mrinalini passes away. The very competitive and almost ridiculous games are one of the reasons his daughters resent him so much.
However all of them decide to participate as the king pretends to be suffering from a secret disease and asks them to take part in the competitions as his dying wish. As each round progresses, the four of them slowly start reconciling with each other and their father, but are they able to save Shikharwati?
Every character in this series represents a particular trope.
Devyani (Lara Dutta) is the corporate woman who strives for perfection and is almost too terrifying, Gayatri (Soha Ali Khan) is the soft hearted, caring one who has a longing for love, Kamini (Kritika Kamra) is the ditsy social media influencer who is addicted to her phone and Uma (Anya Singh) is the anti-social genius. It is almost too painful to watch them play extremes of these character traits.
Naseeruddin Shah and Raghubir Yadav as the king and his associate try their best but they never get a chance to showcase their prowess here.
Varun Thakur and Cyrus Sahukar can also be seen trying to do something with the very limited material they have got.
The production design is praise worthy with elaborate set pieces that transport the viewers to the palace of Shikharwati. The costumes by Natasha Dilip Charak are character appropriate and represent what each of them stand for.
The background score by Anurag Saikia perfectly captures the essence of the show and a song that is used to show the sisters’ childhood bond is beautiful.
The writing is not very funny for a comedy drama and the dialogues are cringe-worthy.
The Royal Games the princesses have to play are too silly and tiring to get through. They even wear ‘Squid Game’ style hoodies while getting through them.
In the end, all of them reconcile so easily that it makes you wonder, what was the need to even make them play this elaborate nonsensical nine round game.
While some sub-plots in the show seem entirely unnecessary, others are just there to move the script ahead conveniently and to provide the king and his daughters some character development.
The basic storyline and set pieces are intriguing but getting through this 10 episodes series, ridden with bad writing and acting is very tough. If you are looking to hate watch something, this might be it.