Creator/Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Sunil Grover, Gauhar Khan, Kritika Kamra, Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub, Kumud Kumar Mishra, Annup Sonii, Sarah Jane Dias, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Dino Morea, Sandhya Mridul
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
I was very kicked about watching Tandav, for two reasons: Saif Ali Khan, probably the only A-list star-actor who has been taking creative risks consistently since the rebirth of his career in Dil Chahta Hai (2001). The second reason being the show’s creator/director Ali Abbas Zafar, who has cracked the code of ‘superstardom meets content’ and given three blockbusters with Salman Khan – Sultan, Tiger Zinda Hai and Bharat. These three films had larger than life characters and Zafar liberally sensationalized their arcs. A redemption seeking wrestler in Sultan, a spy called back for duty in Tiger Zinda Hai, and one man’s journey through decades to find his lost father in Bharat.
Also read: Sir review: Maid to perfection!
Zafar’s web debut Tandav is as large as it could get w.r.t premise; India – the largest democracy in the world. It’s about the race in a family run political party to become the next Prime Minister of India. The stakes are high but the drama lacks grip. There are n number of characters. Don’t have a problem with those if watching them is a rewarding experience. Throughout the nine episodes, roughly 300 minutes of total length, they remain character introductions only. In all its grandness, Tandav looks contrived rather than natural.
The writing by Gaurav Solanki (Article 15) gives information rather than tell a story. There are few moments of spark here and there. Saif seems like he’s doing a version of his character from Race which he played to perfection. Here, he’s just delivering lines given to him; so are the other actors. The only intriguing character there is, is that of Gurpal played by Sunil Grover. Tigmanshu Dhulia appears like carrying forward his Ramadhir Singh bearing from Gangs of Wasseypur. Would have loved to see Dimple Kapadia in a more layered and meaty role. Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub’s Shiva Shankar is bewildered throughout the show.
A lot is happening, as it must be when the country’s next PM is going to be elected. But the show seems like random scenes put together. One can guess why actors like Khan, Kapadia and Grover would have got attracted to play these parts. No doubt, these are interesting characters on the surface levels. But what’s the use if they remain just on the surface? The narrative never gets going. There’s no resolution either. We’re expected to wait for the second season for the ‘game’ to get enjoyable as Saif signs off saying “Abhi toh is khel mein mazaa aane laga hai” (something to that effect). Well.