Normally I’d have trashed Tandav on Amazon Prime in first ten minutes of episode 1. It was that bad. But thanks to all the boycott calls, I was just curious to see how bad can this web series really be. In a pool of mediocre dramas full of cliches, how was Tandav any different, I wanted to see.
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers.
By now everyone knows of the 2-3 scenes which have causes the furore. One scene is about how one upper caste man tells his estranged wife that her lover, a Dalit politician, is having an affair with her to take revenge for decades of atrocities they had to face. Another scene is how the ‘Prime Minister’ uses casteist slurs against same Dalit politician to ‘show him his place’. And third scene is about how one character ‘Shiv Shekhar’ is mocking Lord Ram and Ram Bhakts.
Tandav web series is what you get when you try to write fiction based on Twitter. There is a university ‘VNU’ (Vivekanand National University) in Delhi’s ‘Mahant Vihar’ and students there like to raise ‘azadi’ slogans. Now, which university in India really does that? Oh, and there is also student body election where the above character ‘Shiv Shekhar’, who hails from Bihar, is contesting. There is also a Kritika Kamra playing a Muslim girl who was in students’ body at VNU.
Kamra, who plays the role of student leader Sana Mir (yeah, as cliched as it sounds), also sleeps around with professor (who made the above casteist remark on his estranged wife) and does shady stuff. At worst, one person who should be p*ssed at this should be the Muslim student leader from India’s premier institute who is now reduced to a freelance protestor.
There is more cliche of a student in ‘VNU’ who ‘goes missing’ and is found dead on campus. Now, when have we heard that news before? So this student is involved in some shady stuff apparently and is murdered. There is absolutely no reason or motive given for this.
In fact, there is no logic or motive for most of the things that happen. Like why does Saif poison his own father who is set to be fourth time PM? There was no bad blood. And while he may have ambitions of becoming PM himself, killing his dad was a little too weird. Nowhere do they show that Saif expressed his desire to be PM and his father said no. It was all too bizarre.
Similarly, the cocaine sniffing dude who wants to be defence minister (?) at some point. Does he think a defence minister gets to play with the guns himself? I was wondering if the makers wanted to mock a certain political family from Bihar where the newer generation of politicians appear too dumb to be actual ministers who could decide fate of its people.
And then there is one mysterious anonymous caller who gives away details of poison which killed the prime minister. Using this info, Dimple, who was the Prime Minister’s ‘lover’ (and also mother of cocaine sniffer) becomes prime minister herself. Because that’s how thing work, no?
And ‘IT cells’ work day and night to trend hashtags. Even Aam Aadmi Party’s IT strategy has evolved but the writer of Tandav is stuck in 2015.
All through the series I tried to understand what exactly was happening. It was not because the writers wrote a complicated plot which could blow your mind but it was so shabby that it was a ready reckoner on how to not tell a story.
Talents like Sunil Grover and Kumud Mishra are wasted. Big Bollywood names like Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia appear too uncomfortable. Others are easily forgettable.
All in all, Tandav on Amazon Prime would’ve died its own slow, painful death and vanished without a whimper has it not got the attention it got in past few days. A waste of talent, resources and time.