Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, Sunil Grover and Gauahar Khan
Creator: Ali Abbas Zafar
This new Amazon Prime thriller has been in the headlines for more than just its dramatic appeal for being packed with some of Bollywood’s big acting talents and dubbed as India’s answer to Hollywood’s mega hit series ‘House of Cards’. While certain references within its nine episodes spill over into real-life complaints, ‘Tandav’ is ultimately a work of fiction.
Samar Pratap Singh () is a shrewd and ruthless politician on the cusp of power and glory, which he feels is incumbered only by his stalwart politician father Devki Nandan Singh () – who is a long-running Prime Minister of a fictional Delhi and also the ruling party leader with a solid support base. Devki Nandan’s party colleague and love interest, Anuradha Kishore (), harbours her own secret ambitions for the top spot that would pave the way for her son to take charge. This power play lays the groundwork for a complex web of intrigue and schemes, which have some very deadly consequences.
In parallel, young college graduate and idealist Shiva Shekhar (Ayyub) is undergoing his own political initiation through the use of social media and viral videos to fight for the rights of the poor and downtrodden. His efforts turn him into a sensation of sorts and the tide carries him over the threshold into fighting elections under the banner of a new political party called Tandav, overruling his many misgivings about politics and ambitions of becoming a humble civil servant.
As these intertwined worlds of high-powered political machinations collide, the result is life-changing and shattering for all those involved.
Just like a number recent Indian thrillers, including the likes of ‘’ and ‘’, ‘Tandav’ does hit many of the right buttons. Its conspiratorial and intriguing tale is fairly well spun, largely backed up by assured performances by talented actors balancing their good and evil sides to perfection.
Saif Ali Khan is very convincing as an over-ambitious heir to a coveted political legacy and Dimple Kapadia quite sinister in her efforts to climb to the top. Their sidekicks, played by Sunil Grover and Gauahar Khan, are equally impressive with their skewed sense of loyalties.
But, even so, there is a missing ingredient that prevents this series from creating that edge-of-the-seat effect that keeps the audience glued to their screens. It proves difficult to really connect with or feel for any of the characters, whether to like or dislike them enough.
A dramatic conclusion at a crucial twist in the plot in the last episode, however, does hold out promise for a second season making up for some of the missed opportunities – that is if it gets a second season past all the real-world controversies.