QUICK REVIEW – Tandav (Prime Video) – Political ‘Tandav’ in contemporary India

Saif Ali Khan in Tandav. Photo- Prime Video

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 20 January 2021: The happenings at Raisina Hill (India’s Capitol Hill), New Delhi, is often shrouded in mystery except the occasional storm in a tea cup. India’s loud and chaotic media (or Godi media) keeps viewers/readers busy with their sensational stuff. In medieval India power struggles saw dangling swords as weapons of solution. In modern India it’s intrigue, money, media (including social media) and much more that matters.

Watching ‘Tandav’ (Session 1- nine episodes) is a bit longish effort but makes one feel the heat in New Delhi is quite shady and intriguing. Or, maybe, politics is like that only. Anyway, Director Ali Abbas Zafar’s effort is straight forward. The son of India’s PM poisons to death his dad and engineers his mum to be the next PM. The plot moves on amid many subplots and the mum PM is also bumped off and a party loyalist is appointed the interim PM (end of last episode). What the power hungry son will do next will come (I guess) in the next Session of the serial.

Photos- Prime Video

In between, is lots of student politics (shades of JNU), Hindu nationalism, rustic cops, Right and Left, party politics, swearing, love scenes, shady deals, corruption… One almost feels the heat increasing. The less said the better.

Saif Ali Khan (Samar Pratap Singh-son), Dimple Kapadia (Aunaradha Kishore-mum), Sunil Grover (Gurpal), Md. Zeeshan Ayyub (Shiv Shankar) among others. Saif and Dimple do justice to their roles. Sunil Grover excels with his Haryanavi accent. Md. Zeeshan Ayyub is good.

The start of the serial is promising as the political drama takes off but towards the second last episode the script becomes sloppy. A tighter script could have given punch to the intense political intrigues taking place.

A lot of the serial has been shot at the ‘Pataudi Palace’ in Pataudi, Haryana, Saif Ali Khan’s ancestral palace. Saif is son of Mansoor Ali Khan (former Nawab of Pataudi and caption of India’s cricket team) and actress Sharmila Tagore.

As expected there is a backlash and legal actions from right-wing groups and the cast and crew of Amazon Prime Video have apologised if the serial hurts anyone. There is also a repeat call for regulation of content on OTT platforms (streaming services). One has to wait and see what happens next.

The nine episodes are: Tanashah, Aazaadi, Chandragupta, Left se Right, Jeevan aur Mrityu, Khel, Dhappa, Babool ka Ped and Tandav.

The serial has been reviewed by many already and views are out. It’s not the best as one expects. Despite this it points at the toxic political ambience in a democracy. I give ‘Tandav’ 2 and half stars out of 5.

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