After a somewhat traditional premiere (at least by today’s streaming standards), Tandav opens up some promising prospects worth exploring. And while some of them have been tried many times before, there are at least one or two ideas worth considering because of their relevance to current events. Meanwhile, Aazaadi maintains her production skills at a high level, but gains more and more points that fade too quickly due to overuse.
After the shocking ending of Episode 1, which culminated in the poisoning of Devka Nandan by her son Samar, our protagonists fight for power. This leads to the pushing and shoving of the power play, which is pretty typical for this type of series. While Samar strives to maintain some semblance of love for his father, his administrative staff works behind the scenes to keep him as the preferred heir to the throne.
Meanwhile, Imran, a student, is jailed for supporting agricultural protests, largely because of his religious heritage. His friend is doing his best to save him. And then Tandav presents his first new idea: The news of a great tragedy dashes all of Imran’s hopes for a conflict that is small compared to what is being reported. News organizations refuse to accept this news when the prime minister of the country dies. And rightly so. When Shiva Shekhar (aptly named, see discussion of episode 1) and his friends suggest that this coverage will last at least the next 5 days, they are not exaggerating. In fact, they seriously underestimate the impact of the tragedy.
In order to convince a local news channel that the story is worthwhile, Shiva and Richa have the idea of making a video of the protest scene in which two other young Muslims are shot during a fake rally. The idea is far-fetched, as is the line, but it raises an interesting point: Selling the videos. The video goes viral on Twitter (unnamed) and gets enough interest for the students to celebrate their important victory. They have finally managed to gain some visibility in their otherwise frustrating struggle. Samar’s reaction to Shiva almost suggests that the two men have a deeper connection than the juxtaposition of their stories.
Tandav suspects it’s a game of catching eyes to get to the other side. Today’s political parties are armed with a tool they did not have in the past: Access to digital media. We have seen a trend towards the creation of hashtags and a reaction to this trend within hours. Here, we get a glimpse of that world as Gurpal Chauhan of Sunil Grover coordinates a cyber plan to create a hashtag trend that portrays Gopal Das Munshi Kumud Mishra in a bad light as a greedy and dirty politician who only cares about the throne and seizes it within hours of the Prime Minister’s death. It is an important tool in the hands of the parties, and I hope we will see more of it, albeit in a less unpleasant way.
The final part of the fake is when Anuradha Dimple Kapadia delivers a one-sentence game to Samar: Aconite. Yes, she knows her husband has been poisoned (guess who warned her?), and she makes a request to Samar: tweet to support her as PM. Wow, I mean, it’s not a new concept or anything – everyone fighting for the throne is pretty Game of Thrones in a simplistic sense – but it makes you think about the fact that this show is as much about politics as it is about using digital media to do politics. It’s no longer a street war for the morhas, it’s an online war using Twitter hashtags via the famous Twitter handles.
As interesting as these concepts are, some of the instructions have troubled me on several occasions. Ali Abbas Zafar, for example, tends to overlap too often, especially in protest scenes. While this creates a sense of urgency, this crossover is also reflected to some extent in the dramatic scenes, not through shaky shots, but through frequent cuts. Just think of the scene where Gopal Das in Samar comments on the Prime Minister’s ambitions – the scene keeps cutting between them and Sarah Jane Dias in Ayesha and the wide angle. Shooting from multiple angles can help keep the scene fresh, but it also means a lack of confidence in your actors’ ability to handle intense drama.
The other problem I had was the overuse of Julius Pacquaim’s points. Packaim’s score is certainly addictive, and it’s the kind that keeps the momentum in the scene. But most importantly, it is used to create an editing effect, editing multiple scenes to feel coherent and in unison. Sometimes it interrupts the interaction between the characters and undermines the raw tension that would otherwise be present when the score is turned off. The use of points is as good as the ability to limit their use, I suppose; Zack Snyder abuses his points, and Zafar does something similar.
Otherwise, Tandav suggested some interesting concepts in episode 2 that, if explored further, could lead to scenarios that are even more relevant today. However, I doubt these concepts will hold up until the final episode. Let’s see where the show goes.
Tandav Season 1 Episode 2 Rating: 7.5 out of 10
I will be doing reviews of individual episodes of season one of Tandav. These reviews will contain spoilers until the episode is reviewed. Read on and let me know what you think of these different reviews in the comments below.
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