Tandav review: it never starts.


Creator / Director: Ali Abbas Zafar

Occupation: 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 and Sandhya Mridul

Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

I was very excited to see Tandav for two reasons: Saif Ali Khan, possibly the only A-list star actor who has consistently taken creative risks since his career rebirth in Dil Chahta Hai (2001). The second reason is the show’s creator / director, Ali Abbas Zafar, who cracked the “superstar meets content” code and gave three blockbusters with Salman Khan – Sultan, Tiger Zinda Hai and Bharat. These three films had larger than life characters, and Zafar generously sensitized their arcs. A redeeming wrestler in the Sultan, a spy called back to duty in Tiger Zinda Hai, and a man’s journey through decades to find his lost father in Bharat.

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Zafar’s web debut Tandav is as big as it gets. India – the largest democracy in the world. It’s about the race in a family-run political party to become the next Indian Prime Minister. The stakes are high, but the drama has no grip. There are n characters. Don’t have a problem with them if it is a rewarding experience to see them. During the nine episodes with a total length of approximately 300 minutes, they remain just character introductions. In all its greatness, Tandav seems more fictional than natural.

Gaurav Solanki’s letter (Article 15) gives information rather than a story to tell. There are few moments of spark here and there. Saif seems to be making a version of his character out of Race that he played perfectly. Here he only delivers lines that were given to him; so are the other actors. The only fascinating character there is is Gurpal, played by Sunil Grover. Tigmanshu Dhulia seems to be carrying on his Ramadhir Singh camp from Gangs of Wasseypur. Would have liked to see Dimple Kapadia in a more complex and meaty role. Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub’s Shiva Shankar is confused throughout the show.

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Much happens, as it has to be, when the country’s next prime minister is elected. But the show seems like random scenes put together. One can imagine why actors like Khan, Kapadia, and Grover would have been drawn to play these roles. No doubt these are interesting characters on the surface planes. But what good is it if they just stay on the surface? The narrative never gets going. There is no solution either. We are expected to wait for season two until the ‘game’ is fun as Saif signs out and says, “Abhi toh is khel my mazaa aane laga hai” (something to that effect). Well.

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