Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Sunil Grover, Kumud Mishra, Zeeshan Ayyub
Creator: Ali Abbas Zafar
Blame the successful Amazon Prime Video model in India that most of their Hindi thrillers follow a certain template. Be it Mirzapur, Inside Edge, Breathe, Paatal Lok or its latest outing Tandav, the streaming giant mainly relies on set pieces. But it’s not a bad thing because these shows were mostly entertaining and know a thing or two about their potential audience.
Tandav, created by Ali Abbas Zafar and headlined by Saif Ali Khan, is the latest noisemaker in the Hindi OTT space and certainly plays in the gallery, giving viewers plenty of hints along the way about how Bollywood sees a web series as a 9-episode extension of a typical movie rather than a separate entity. Zafar (Gunday, Tiger Zinda Hai) also adds his touch to the production, and as a result, the story continues to shift from goalposts full of twists and turns.
While the makers could have chosen a less stereotypical name than Samar Pratap Singh (Khan) as their anchor, a sneaky but vulnerable scion of India’s most powerful political family, they give the actor a fine bow to work with. Some may find similarities between Raajneeti van Tandav and Prakash Jha, but to be honest, the mainstream Hindi film production has barely shown the will to make sensible and serious political drama to date.
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Tigmanshu Dhulia plays Khan’s father a la Wasseypur style, but the new JP Singh is better carved. Then there are other players such as political rivals – Dimple Kapadia and Kumud Mishra – revolutionary students – Zeeshan Ayyub and Kritika Kamra – and an accomplice – Sunil Grover in a picture-changing role.
There are some tricks and treats and how Samar fights on many fronts also generously contribute to the dance of rage.
Written by Gaurav Solanki (Article 15) and Zafar, Tandav owes a lot to the perception that you have to be dirty and a little bit criminal to be successful in electoral politics, so we continue to meet corrupt leaders, trigger-happy cops and derailed media bosses. It might not look good on principle, but it makes the procedure quite spicy, and thanks to the overdose of blood and gore OTTs fill us with, Tandav seems familiar and tolerable, if pointless. But who cares until it’s shiny and everyone’s cheeks are shaking with anger and fear. Do I miss Hrithik Roshan here!
To me, Khan seems more sincere when he’s playing negative characters. Maybe he should play more of these kinds of roles. Don’t call it villainous because it isn’t all black in the first five episodes provided for the review purpose. He knows his territory and is constantly evolving as an actor. Hasn’t he been experimenting more than his contemporaries lately?
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Dimple Kapadia is good despite hamming, but the same cannot be said about Kumud Mishra. I wish I hadn’t seen Ram Singh Charlie and Thappad for his forced laughter in Tandav.
The show could be picked up in later episodes, but the first five show all the trappings of a ‘masala’ Bollywood production with absolutely nothing to think about once it’s over. Before you call me pretentious, I’d like to reiterate that Tandav is entertaining, provided you have a huge appetite for projected punchlines and daring behavior.
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