Amazon Prime’s latest Indian web series Tandav has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. After the show opened to poor reviews by critics, it sparked outrage among the Hindu right-wing for depicting Lord Shiva in poor light. Protests were arranged and threats were issued against the cast and makers of the series (police had to be stationed outside Saif Ali Khan’s house), forcing them to issue an apology. They later also agreed to remove the objectionable parts in view of rising unrest.
However, despite the poor reviews and immense backlash, the show continues to trend and with good reason – the foremost being that the show is extremely binge-able. The episodes are short, crisp, and fast-paced. Though the plot is weak and predictable with the makers trying to fit in too many issues in just nine episodes – dynastic politics, the race for the seat, farmers’ protests, and the student protests’ – the mindblowing performances will make you forgive the producers.
Saif Ali Khan was amazing as the manipulative and ruthless Samar Pratap as was Dimple Kapadia as the power-hungry Anuradha Kishore. Let me just add that Kapadia owned every scene she was in, her screen presence was that good. Sunil Grover’s performance as Gurupal, Samar’s henchman was enough to send a chill down your spine.
Zeeshan Ayub did complete justice to his role of a morally upright and ambitious student Shiva and won audiences with his flawless performance. Playing a role like this in India’s current political climate requires guts and Ayub shone in it.
As far as the show’s plot is concerned, there are two parallel stories running – on the one hand, we have India’s ruling party and their internal politics and quest for the Pradhānamantrī‘s ‘kursi’ and on the other, we have young students rallying for their rights and those of the farmers, who have been evicted from their land. Trouble brews when the two worlds collide and that’s what the gist of the series is.
Director Ali Abbas Zafar, in an official statement, clarified that “Tandav is a work of fiction and any resemblance to acts and persons and events is purely coincidental” and that’s how one should also take it. While the series does appear to have been inspired by real-life incidents, it is also imperative to keep in mind that creative liberty has been taken.
It would be pertinent to mention that some scenes of the series have been shot at Saif’s ancestral home, Pataudi Palace. This is also the first time shooting took place inside the historical palace.
In an interview, Saif had shared that though he doesn’t mind renting the grounds of the property, he was a “little bit nervous when the crew moved inside”.
I would also like to add here that several viewers had expressed that they found the background score to be overpowering, I felt it complimented the mood and overall setting of the show.
Tandav is no Rajneeti but it isn’t all that terrible either. Watch it for the performances, drama and masala.