Digital Review: ‘Tandav’ (Amazon Prime)

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Filming for various entertainment mediums have resumed amidst the ongoing pandemic. This is while audiences also continue to remain home and grow into watching more on demand content. Streaming wars have erupted between multiple platforms and quality content has become much more accessible due to it. ‘Tandav’, Ali Abbas Zafar’s political-drama series is the latest to grace the charts of the ever-growing list of Amazon Prime releases. ‘Tandav’ marks Zafar’s digital directorial debut and stars a bevy of multi-dimensional actors, but it’s main cast comprises of Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub, Kumud Mishra, Sunil Grover, Kritika Kamra, Tigmanshu Dhulia, and Gauahar Khan.

‘Tandav’ begins with the concerning plight of farmers in the region of Malakpur. These farmers fight for their land as the ever growing scene of political reign sweeps in with the entry of Gurpal Chauhan (Grover). What commences is the introduction of Devki Nandan (Dhulia) and his consistent victory as a beloved Prime Minister, with a hint of power division between him and son Samar Pratap Singh (Khan). The stark difference in ideologies is apparent between Devki’s clear disapproval of Samar’s interaction in the public eye. This first episode is slow paced and often predictable, but the thrilling aspect at what could be makes you stay on.

The episodes that follow and make up this nine part series takes you into the thin line of politics that Samar has conveniently etched for himself. Khan’s performance as this unlikely “conscience driven” politician is tiresome, as we have seen him playing this baddie on the big screen far too many times. Samar is half-baked and leaves far more to be desired, especially when you have a performance driven actor like Khan.

While the true ‘Tandav’ takes a skip and hop to start, the supporting cast is what drives you home. Dhulia is effervescent in his short appearance as Devki Nandan. Kapadia shines in her portrayal of the ambitious ‘other woman’ Anuradha Kishore, but the characters played by Gauahar, Kamra, Grover, and Ayyub are who are running the show. Kamra and Grover’s performances are perhaps the most intriguing and spin-off worthy. It is a breath of fresh air to finally see Grover in a ruthless avatar that doesn’t tickle your funny bones. Kamra’s character Sana Mir has a web of secrets of her own, while she tries to fight between them and a life of deceit. Kamra does a 180 from previous characters and leaves no comparison. Ayyub plays the hard hitting true-to-life campus politician Shiva with much ease and glory, while Gauahar adds grace and poise in her loyal avatar as aid Maithili in an otherwise chaotic parliament.

There is no denying that Zafar is a brilliant director. He brings a larger-then-life political thrill to every episode and makes you wonder what kept him away from the digital world. ‘Tandav’ has been well cast and has the best of the best to keep you on your toes. Although, actors Kumud Mishra, Annup Sonii, Sandhya Mridul, Sarah Jane Dias, and Dino Morea are underutilized but as important as their counterparts. Nonetheless, Zafar’s foray into the digital battleground is noteworthy and a welcome addition to the Amazon Prime arena.

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