Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Platform: Amazon Prime
A political party that is in power or opposition, does all things to get only for its own goal and interests, no matter in a legal way or through illegal resources. Well, Ali Abbas Zafar understands this concept and has finally come up with his dream project, Tandav. After a long wait, the series has premiered on Amazon Prime and is trending on the top. Abbas has presented his vision on the political scenario through Tandav and has exposed layers of human greed, ambition, betrayal, violence, and revenge. Tandav means the dance of destruction and is considered the most aggressive form of dance performed by Lord Shiva. Inspiring from the dance form, Abbas presented Tandav in the form of political destruction and made it clear 'Sahi or Galat K beech jo Chiz Aakar khadi ho jati hai Usse Rajneeti Kehte hai.' More about Tandav, then the series revolves around a prince who wants to be a king but eventually prefers to be a kingmaker.
Tandav starts with Leszek Kolakowski, a renowned political philosopher's quote, 'In politics, being deceived is no excuse' and with a shot of a farm, field divided by a road heading towards a farm protest in the place name Malakpur. A radio announcement can be heard from the background that Devki Nandan will have a landslide victory for the fourth consecutive time in the Lok Sabha elections. From the car, Gurpal (Sunil Grover) takes an entry and orders the policemen to shoot three young students who are protesting. The officials hail the order and kill two out of three students.
The scene cuts to Devki Niwas where thousands of people and media eyes are transfixed at his house and from there we get the first look at Devki's son Samar Pratap Singh (Saif Ali Khan). Devki (Tigmanshu Dhulia) from behind can be seen having a conversation with his dear friend Gopal (Kumud Mishra) where he mentioned that he sees a dictator in Samar. Well, Devki doesn't want to pass Jan Lok Dal's legacy to Samar as he thinks that Samar will divide and destroy the nation with his dictatorship and just wants to see himself as the next Prime Minister.
Just like every politician, Devki Nandan too has a secret lover and political associate Anuradha Kishore (Dimple Kapadia) who wants her son Raghu to be the next defense minister. But Samar doesn't want his father to live long and to make his way clear he kills Devki by poisoning him.
The entire nation and media get diverted and starts speculating that Samar will take his father's position but somehow Anuradha gets to know about Devki's murder and she blackmails Samar to leave the position and ask him to present her country's next Prime Minister. Eventually, with a fist of fury, Samar declares Anuradha the next PM.
On the other side, a student Shiva (Zeeshan Ayyub) who became an overnight youth icon starts grabbing Samar's attention. Just like how Chanakya feels insulted by the Nanda king and vows to destroy him. After dethroning the Nanda, he installs Chandragupta as the new king. Similarly, Samar also wants Shiva to be his Chandragupta. But here Shiva's rage overthrew the power pillars and after a series of events he decided to elect for himself and formed a party name, 'Tandav'.
With Tandav, Ali Abbas Zafar has entered into the world of web-series and through his directorial debut on the digital platform, he covered all the controversial aspects whether it was farm protest, Economic Special Zone's privilege government have or presenting JNU politics in the form of VNU. The director hasn't left any zone to put it into the political drama.
Abbas has touched the country's controversial nerve although several scenes that may emerge as negative aspects for the series. There is a scene in the initial episode where students are acting in a theatre show as presenting lord Shiva and Narayan following the modern era and spitting inappropriate language.
Tandav has also been seen inspired by some political events that have shattered the nation at several points in time. Abbas added a speculator scene where Devki compares Samar with Sanjay Gandhi and Gopal compares Devki with Indra Gandhi. They both sarcastically delivered the dialogue on political alliance and its deep dark secrets.
The series also aches when it's moving plot swings towards caste system, low and high-class discrimination. Gaurav Solanki as a writer tried his best to present the top-notch storyline with some powerful characters whose lust for power wouldn't stop anytime. The Tandav of betrayal, political alliance, greed & lust for power, revenge has made itself count in the list of most promising series of the year.
Most of the shoot has taken place in Pataudi place & the glory of Saif Ali Khan's status is evident throughout the series. Saif hails the antagonist role and fits best in Samar's character. In his journey from being good to bad, or being scolded by his father, Saif adapts each expression with grace.
Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub has also performed perfectly in Shiva's role and looks intriguing in a student character. His dialogue delivery is so hard-hitting that his character's pain can be felt easily by the viewers.
On the other side, Tigmanshu Dhulia and Kumud Mishra look so real that you will start imagining them as real-life politicians. Apart from them Dimple Kapadia, with her charm makes the series more powerful and through her presence, she made it clear that a woman doesn't need a man to rule the nation.
But the man of the series is none other than Sunil Grover who played Raghu's character. He is a loyal and hardcore assassin and can do anything for his master.
More about the music aspect then whenever A.R Rahman's composed song Yuva was played in the background it gives a goosebump and more about the intro theme then you better skip it as nothing new has been presented by Julius Packiam.
Cinematography by Karol Stadnik and Steven Bernard editing is sharp and wouldn't bore you while watching the entire series. Karol Stadnik has done pretty good work while capturing Pataudi place or Rashtrapati Bhavan.
All-embracing, in Tandava, the stories of the country's power politics and student politics run parallel like the railway tracks. The events of both seem to be different from each other and happening at different times and but their effects move the storyline forward. In real-life also, farmers are protesting on Delhi-Haryana broader and In Tandava too, the farmer movement comes up as a big issue but it loses its strength with each passing episode. Ali Abbas Zafar has presented Muslim citizens as easy victims of power under the right-wing rule. The maker has shown the colors of student politics through his storytelling, but prove to be dull when it's about the main politics happening on the upper level.
As a student leader, Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub makes a good start but his character keeps derailing and seems confused with every moving episode. On the other side, Samar learns how politics work and how to play the betrayal game for the throne. Well, don't expect it to be a 'House of Cards' as Tandav runs on a parallel mode with Samar and Shiva's story and their journey to be in power.
Overall, the nine-episode series have much to present in the form of controversy and many would criticize it for raising several issues whether it is student murders by politically powerful people. So, if you are interested in watching hardcore acting by your favourite actor or political drama then Tandav is your cup of tea.