there is nothing about ali abbas zaffar’s tandav that makes him stand out from his peers in the budding world of indian web shows. For starters, it has none of the cinematic grit or powerful writing that shaped politically charged Indian crime thrillers like Paatal Lok and Sacred Games. nor does it offer a palette of well-developed characters present in pioneering productions such as mirzapur and s cam 1992: the story of hurhad mehta.
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Instead, this saif ali khan-starrer is riddled with clichés and larger-than-life figures. the first five episodes available for review, rather than effectively setting up a power-packed political drama, provide a glimpse of the project’s missed potential.
At the heart of the show, two parallel stories unfold. one is from samar pratap (saif ali khan) who is a promising political leader. he is hell-bent on replacing his father and three-time incumbent devki nandan (tigmanshu dhulia) as prime minister of india. while the other follows campus activist shiva (zeeshan ayub), who is on his way to becoming a popular student leader, by mobilizing popular support against the status quo.
both face insurmountable challenges. In Samay’s case, it is the disapproval of her father, and in Shiva’s, the brutality of the local police. they soon cross paths at the culmination of their story arcs and the result sums up this amazon prime original.
And yet, as simple as it sounds, the plot of the show is anything but. Gaurav Solanki’s convoluted script robs Tandav of its element of credibility. attempts to cover farmers’ protests and student demonstrations seem clumsy, without the intricate attention to detail needed to formulate a realistic depiction of such events.
From its inception, it’s clear that the show’s focus is not on exploring the inner workings of political power structures and mass movements, but rather on providing viewers with an endless variety of cheap thrills that don’t belong in a political drama. .
nevertheless, timangshu dhulia dazzles as the all-powerful patriarch, wary of a son he can’t get along with. he lights up the first episode with his tenacious banter and his boisterous delivery of dialogue. So does Sunil Grover’s guru Chauhan, who manages to establish himself as a menacing figure effortlessly, creating an aura of unhinged notoriety around his character.
zeeshan ayub looks convincing on screen, but his character writing leaves a lot to be desired. His portrayal of student leader Shiva Shekhar comes across as a self-righteous humanitarian who cannot go wrong. sadly, no effort has been made to use his character to make cinematic inroads into the psyche of a young leader, which would have been a refreshing watch in itself.They are further disappointed by
saif ali khan, who looks out of place as a man of privilege, despite coming from a royal lineage in real life. Saif’s performance as a scheming rogue, hatching evil plans for political invincibility, seems peculiar from the start. he exudes a unique brand of quirkiness, where he seems lost in a world of silly frivolities conjured up by the show’s creators.
Among the supporting cast, Dimple Kapadia’s Anuradha seems assertive, even likeable, and her scenes with Kumud Mishra’s Gopal Munshi are some of the show’s best moments. despite that, tandav manages to come across as a morbid exercise in mediocrity.
Its high-quality production values and deft cinematography partially make up for some of its shortcomings, but they don’t hide the fact that its creators have bitten off more than they can chew.
At every moment of its viewing, viewers are actively influenced to think a certain way about its central figures and their escapades, stifling the organic growth of its characters and narrative arcs, giving the entire production an air of incompetence. which is difficult to remove.
To top it off, an unimpressive background score does little to save this production as it resonates on small screens across the country, and serves as a reminder to all Indian creators wanting to try their hand at this genre, to be careful. .
tandav is currently streaming on amazon prime