An elegant Saif, a determined Zeeshan Ayub, and a raunchy Sunil Grover carry this Amazon Prime Original on their shoulders along with an incandescent supporting cast.
Created by Ali Abbas Zafar, Tandav, an Amazon Prime original, revolves around the quest of political leaders for becoming the Prime Minister of India. Samar Pratap Singh (Saif) poisons his father and the current Indian PM, Devki Nandan (Tigmanshu Dhulia), a day before the election results. With the supreme chair just a step away from him, Samar prepares for the Big Day, but it isn't that easy as there's someone who gets to know about his obnoxious deed. Alongside, there is another story, involving the youth of the country, going on. Shiva (Zeeshan) is a student at Vivekanand University (VNU) with no plans of joining politics but Police atrocities on a group of his friends and a vicious plan created by Samar lead him to the political arena. Tandav is all about how low can one stoop to get to higher ranks in politics with twists, turns, and mysteries.
With dialogues like "Ram ji ke followers social media par badhte hi jaa rahe hain...", "aajkal terrorists universities se nikal rahe hain" and the reverberation of the famous 'Aazadi' slogan inside a university campus, I was sure that Tandav would be the hot topic the next morning with Twitter flooding with hashtags demanding a ban on it. The story begins with a police encounter amidst a farmer's protest, the reason of which is never disclosed in the entire 9 episode series. The creators have taken plenty of examples from recent times to add relevance to this contemporary take on the evergreen concept of 'political aspirations are above blood relations'. And this very thing comes out as the lifeline of the series. First, the director creates various sub-plots and then shuffles the screenplay between them to make up for a riveting watch. Background score is good, and the 'Yuva anthem' works when the story is on the verge of running out of fuel. Ali Abbas Zafar is the director, so there's no question about the quality on that front. Tandav has utilised the traditional image of political leaders and made it darker by showing them sacrificing numerous innocent lives for the sake of their ambitions. The entire cast has done a great job with a special mention to Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub and Sunil Grover, with the latter shedding the image of a comedian and showing his class as an actor. They, along with Saif Ali Khan, take the ship forward while keeping the audiences hooked. The creators have cleverly used the past instances like the police entering a university campus, beating students mercilessly, and acting on the behest of their political masters. In the current times, when there's a strong demand for censoring the content on OTT platforms, Tandav is a brave attempt, to say the least.
What doesn't work?
Everything is perfect from the story to the acting prowess of the cast but, at times, in the process of creating new twists or taking the story forward, the series resorts to illogical moves. I am still wondering as to why would the Personal Assistant of the Prime Minister of India go alone in the middle of the night to an unknown place in Old Delhi? She could have waited for the morning or have sent someone else. Moreover, how can she allow someone to use her family as a bait to betray her master? She could have asked for a security cover by informing the PM herself. There are a few more instances like these where you are forced to think about the logic behind what is shown. Apart from this, the series, throughout its play, never shows the opposition. Maybe, they wanted to portray that the public has a rather significant role to play in politics than the opposition, but completely bypassing it in a political drama seems to be a tricky idea.
It is good enough for a watch. Moreover, Tandav is short and can be finished in one go.