A farmers’ agitation greets us the moment we tune into Tandav, Amazon Prime’s latest offering. All of it sounds familiar, doesn’t it? A couple of minutes into this Amazon Original, we see Gurpal Chauhan (Sunil Grover), a notorious henchman of a powerful political leader, entering the frame. He asks a bunch of policemen to ‘commit a sin’.
Within minutes, the viewers get to see a fake encounter. Directed by Abbas Ali Zafar, the Amazon Original is a political potboiler that gets off to a promising start but ends up falling flat the moment it reaches the halfway mark. Despite having a power-packed star cast at its disposal, Tandav fails to live up to the expectation, all thanks to some flawed writing. Also, the plot is predictable (and bland). Let us take a closer look at Tandav to know what went wrong with Abbas Ali Zafar’s ambitious project.
Less than 10 minutes into this Amazon Original, we see Devki Nandan, the country’s incumbent Prime Minister, talking to a senior leader. Devki Nandan is talking about his son, Samar Pratap (Saif Ali Khan). Just then, we hear Devki telling his colleague that ‘power in this man’s hand would see the end of democracy as we know it.’ Towards the end of episode 1, Devki is poisoned. What follows is a ruthless power struggle.
Will Samar Pratap inherit his father’s Kursi (seat) or will other sinister forces end up overpowering him? Watch the first season of ‘Tandav’ to get all of the answers. The Storyline is Promising, but Undercooked ‘Tandav follows the political adventures (and misadventures) of Samar Pratap.
There are two parallel storylines in Tandav. The first deals with Samar Pratap Singh, whilst the other deals with Shiva Sekhar, a Vivekananda University student. The two storylines keep moving simultaneously before coming together towards the second half of the series.
Here’s the real problem with Tandav. It ends up poking its nose into just about everything, right from farmer protests to student politics. All of these ingredients were mixed together in a king-sized pot to prepare a spicy little delicacy. However, what we get is a flavourless goulash that lacks salt and spice.
Also, ‘Tandav’ is way too predictable. Ten minutes into the first episode, it became clear that Samar Pratap would end up killing his father in order to seize control. There are various other sinister subplots at play, but most of them appear redundant.
Moreover, we get a taste of student politics at Vivekananda National University (VNU), a fictitious university that has a lot in common with the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Having been part of the JNU, I can tell you that there’s a lot more to student politics than what we get to see in Tandav. Student leaders are jailed just because the director wanted to showcase a few real-life scenarios. However, all of it appears superfluous, to put things simply.
The lads from Vivekananda National University, led by an over-ambitious Shiva Sekhar (Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub) can be seen recreating a fake encounter in order to prove that a bunch of corrupt policemen ended up murdering innocent youngsters. It all seems to be a bit too easy and there’s nothing natural about it. To top it all, Tandav’s storyline would remind you of a rudderless ship.
Saif Ali Khan looks impressive, albeit in patches. It is his sinister smile that ends up snatching the viewers’ breaths away. Saif looks convincing as the power-hungry son of India’s Prime Minister. Clearly, he has had enough and wants his father to vacate the seat. Saif looks at home in this web series, both literally and figuratively. Well, that’s because a major part of Tandav has been shot in the Pataudi Palace.
Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub, who plays Shiva Sekhar, a VNU student, is let down by the show’s shoddy storyline. Much like the series, Ayyub’s character, too, looks promising but ends up fading into the depths of the oblivion within no time. The show’s makers forgot to give him a backstory. Ah, no character in this political pandemonium has been supplied with a backstory.
Sunil Grover, who plays the silent but notorious henchman of Samar Pratap Singh, is able to land a few big blows. His presence instils meaning (of some sort) into the narrative. Also, the dialogues escaping his lips sound like poetry to the ears. Here’s a guy whose actions speak louder than his words. It is Sunil Grover’s performance that ends up holding the show together.
Dimple Kapadia looks stunning as Anuradha Kishore, Devki Nandan’s love interest. She succeeds in keeping all the clutter aside whilst giving us something to cherish. Her performance, along with that of Gauhar Khan, is commendable. Hope to see her in the driver’s seat if ‘Tandav’ is renewed for a second season.
The likes of Kumud Mishra, Dino Morea, Kritika Kamra, and Anup Soni haven’t been given ample screen space. Anup Soni, who plays a marginalised politician, could have done wonders had his character been written with intricacy by the makers.
Ali Abbas Zafar, this name would sound familiar if you are a fan of the movies made under the YRF banner. Zafar, known for ‘Sultan’ and ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’, starts off well, but all of the show’s potential is overshadowed by its predictability. There are no sharp twists in ‘Tandav’ to keep you hooked. However, the production values have been maintained, but the show comes across as a visual delight with little substance.