Change is coming for the (fictional) city of Banda Raya. Two men are up against the current mayor for his cushy position. Of course these people do what politicians do best: They put on an entertaining show where they bicker about whose vision is better for the city and its people. Things take a sinister turn when one of them ends up dead.

Welcome to Mandatori where nothing is as it seems.

At the centre of this intriguing crime show is Inspector Norman (portrayed brilliantly by Aeril Zafrel). All Norman needs to solve a murder case is some time alone with the victim. It is fascinating to see how he works – Norman hovers his hands on top of the dead body and imagines the victim looking back at him with questions such as “Who killed me? Why?”.

Then after a series of acute observations, Norman is able to see the truth and get the culprit arrested. Justice is served.

Mandatori

This Elvis has definitely left the building.

Life should be that simple right? Seek out the truth and justice will prevail. Problem arises when Norman starts suffering from a severe mental block that causes him to pass out during his investigations. He think it’s time for him to quit the force but his investigating partner Kelvin (Alvin Wong as the wise-cracking, combat-efficient colleague everyone needs in life) won’t let him go.

Especially not when a politician is brutally murdered during campaign season and the killer is on the prowl for other victims. The killer calls himself/herself “Inspector Carlos” and leaves a note saying “Case Closed” for the police at the crime scene. Obviously, the killer is mocking them for their lack of insight on the case.

Director Razaisyam Rashid has laid all his best cards on the table to make Mandatori a truly riveting watch. First of all, you’ll be drawn to its film noir feel.

There’s that long tracking shot in the beginning that helps you empathise with Norman’s perspective right away.

Razaisyam complements these visual elements with an engaging multi-layered story. The show is filled with interesting characters (one of them is Chew Kin Wah who steals the show as Norman’s no-nonsense, sarcastic superior), clever yet devastating lines about the so-called pursuit of justice and some humour – a much-needed respite from all the darkness.

Though I’m not sure how anyone would find joy after hearing a revered former judge on the show say justice is for anyone who can afford to pay for it.

Mandatori

Now tell the kid you loved the Minions movie or Ill shoot …

No one is safe in Mandatori as the show boldly goes where no other local TV show has gone before. We’re talking about the portrayal of despicable human beings masquerading as people you’d expect to walk the noble path.

Take your pick from scumbag rich tycoon Johan (Iedil Putra as one of the murder suspects) to well … you’d have to watch to find out who else.

The way this show reveals the sinister side of some of the characters will leave you shocked and disgusted at the same time.

As Norman and Kelvin go on their mission to nab Inspector Carlos, they learn the search for truth doesn’t necessarily guarantee justice. In an ideal scenario, when justice is served, a perpetrator will face the consequences for his action. But as Mandatori highlights, the justice system can be exploited by those in power.

It seems, the good folks of Banda Raya will have to wait a little longer for a better tomorrow. While all this is depressing, the show does give us a reminder to hold dear to our loved ones before it’s too late.

All six episodes of Mandatori are available on Astro First Eksklusif (Ch 480) or watchod.com.