Since the recently released web series Tandav made a lot of news in the past few days, I decided to binge watch it and see for myself as to what is so tandav worthy in the show. The reviews about the web series that I saw before, no matter which website I chose, were bad, everyone suggesting that I shouldn’t watch it. Some of the reviews that I saw are:
I was expecting a very poorly written web series. After watching all nine episodes, I came to know exactly why the reviews were so bad. The story is not bad at all, it is just that it does not fall in the “good standard” template for the left leaning ecosystem that we live in. The show has two very coherently written stories running in parallel, which are yet to converge. One talks about student politics in a university named (VNU) and the other is about the mainstream politics in Raisina Hills. The extremely interesting aspect of the writing is that the writer of the show has picked stories resembling real life stories but have placed them on a different timeline which gives a lot of food for the thoughts. The characters and events are so intertwined and mixed up that it is not easy to pin point who is who, but yet it would keep you engulfed through out.
Let me ask you a few questions to give some hint as to what I am trying to say.
Who is the most popular dynast scion in India and comes from a family of prime ministers? Or who is the mother of a druggie son who wanted to be the prime minister of India but when failed, recommended a dummy remote control prime minister for the job? I know you know the answers to these two questions. But I have one more question, who was the Indian Prime Minister, whose husband, who had a lot of difference of opinions when it came to politics, died of an unexpected Heart Attack? And one of their sons challenged the prime minister? There is a book, a biography written by Katherine Frank, if you read it someday, a lot of dots would make sense.
That’s not it. If you change the designation from PM to CM, there is one more story with the exact same DNA (excluding the murder part, no murder happened in real life, the leader is still alive). Name the chief minister of one of India’s state, who was a chief minister for three terms, who had a second wife and a step son, whose first son from the first wife wanted to be the chief minister (later became the CM) and challenged his step mother and step brother. Its easy.. There is one more hint, there indeed was a farmers protest when certain land was acquired for a highway, but instead was used to build a chemical factory. Of course it gets more intriguing because the writer of the show patches them up with some of the very popular slogans that happened after 2014. The writer has beautifully created a story using events, characters spread across different time frames spread across India’s post independence history. Of course some media houses say “the show is childish“. I suppose Indian politics is also childish then.
I would recommend you to watch the web series (The first season. I don’t know what they will do in the second season, my experience about the second seasons so far be it Sacred Games Season 2 or Mirzapur Season 2 was not good, they had no stories at all, just the regular Hindu-phobic content; the first ones were brilliant.) I still hope the second season is released soon and I can watch how the writer ends the story.
Also read : The Sacred Games we were always a part of
Having said about the writing aspects of the show. Tandav actually challenges the way conventional entertainment has been in India not only for years but for decades now. The small stories that give depth to the different characters are very different from the ones we are accustomed to. And that is one of the biggest reasons why so many people are upset about the show.
We are so accustomed to watching stories that put student politics in a very good light that anything other than that looks bad. We are made to believe that student politics can transform India, youth can change the politics of India; but this web series not only destroys this whole narrative but highlights a different perspective that the student leaders are the extension of the mainstream parties, they are puppets to some powerful politicians and work on their behest. Of course the students bodies are unhappy about the series. Since the student politics in the web series revolves around the left party politics, of course the left leaning ecosystem does not like it. It’s a good story if a right wing student leader is corrupt and greedy but it is not a good story if the left leaning student leader does the same thing.
Moving on, we are accustomed to watching stories which portray upper castes in bad light or humiliating them so much that abusing Brahmins or Rajputs is normal and even considered a good story. For a change, in this web series this doesn’t happen, instead the opposite happens. An upper caste leader humiliates a lower caste leader and an upper caste women humiliates a lower caste man she was dating, once she realizes his scheme. Quite ironically, there is another web series that goes by the name Code M and was released some months ago. It has exactly the same setup that we see in Tandav, a lower caste man dating an upper caste women. But here a Rajput father whose daughter dated the lower caste man was humiliated. You can watch it yourself, it is in the last episode, and mind it you can’t humiliate anyone more than that. But people were fine with it. I didn’t see anybody suing any one and as a matter of fact the show kept trending on twitter for weeks. It’s a good story only when an upper caste is mocked or humiliated, otherwise it would be considered a bad story. It is like a Dalit’s emotions are emotions but a Brahmin’s or Rajput’s emotions are only mere instruments of entertainment. Is it so?
We are accustomed to watching stories which portray upper caste girls as girls with shady character so much that it is normal for us to see a Brahmin girl or a Rajput girl fooling around. For a change in this web series this doesn’t happen, instead the opposite happens. It is a Muslim girl who is doing the deed and even for money. Of course it does not fit the conventional “good story” standard. If you are missing the good story standard, let me re-iterate it for you- for a Hindu-Muslim setup the girl has to be Hindu and the boy Muslim. If it is other way around, it won’t be considered a good story. It is like Muslim girls are girls, but Hindu girls are only mere instruments of entertainment. Is it so?
And of course there is this conversation between Lord Shiva and Narad Muni. Its not more than five minutes. This is being used to provoke people not to watch it.
Narad Muni goes: “Narayan Narayan, prabhu these days followers of Lord Shri Ram has been increasing rapidly on social media, you should do something”. To this Bholenath replies, “what should I do? Change my display picture?” Narad Muni: “Prabhu you are too innocent, you have to do something sensational“. To this Bholenath, gives the justification of Azadi slogans “Azadi from poverty.. blah blah..” In my personal and honest opinion, I did not find it offensive or insulting. If you would like to know where I draw the line, the scenes in PK with Lord Shiva and usage of phrases like “firki lena, bolti band, wrong number etc.” were in bad faith, that whole movie was in a bad faith to show us down. Where do you draw the line?
I think the show deserves to stay on and watched like all other shows that fall in the “good story” template created by the left ecosystem over the years.
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