‘Tandav’, ‘Lupin’, ‘Tribhanga’ reviews


Beneath the palatial silk coiffure is a plot that’s essentially bald, shorn of ideas or character interests. That, unfortunately, is the truth about Tandav (a divine dance), the series that’s made headlines for reasons other than its quality. (That those reasons are absolutely the first nail in a budding OTT space’s coffin is cause for worry and another piece.) Saif Ali Khan plays Samar Pratap Singh, the son of three-time Indian Prime Minister Devki Nandan Singh (a terrific Tigmanshu Dhulia). Much like the brilliant Succession—but nowhere near its sparkling, furiously crackling class—the son feels he’s been ready for the chair for some time now, but the father has other ideas. What follows is a silly poisoning scene that has you doing a double-take on how writer Gaurav Solanki and director Ali Abbas Zafar thought this would fly. But they don’t give up, stretching the thin, ridiculous premise with elastic bands of contemporary news headlines—campus politics and student activists clashing with the police, caste-divides, and a hash of cabinet tug-of-war—none of which tie up in this plodding journey. Which is a pity, truly. For, the series boasts of a cast that punches far below their combined weight. Dimple Kapadia shines as Anuradha, the veteran PM’s muse, and whose ambitions, much like a dormant volcano, erupt to the surface. In a chain of entangled joylessness are Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub  (playing Shiva Shekhar, a feisty student leader in VNU—go figure), Kritika Kamra as Sana, VNU student in an affair with  Dino Morea’s Prof. Jigar, whose wife, Professor Sandhya played by Sandhya Mridul is with Anup Soni’s Kailash Kumar, who’s part of the PM’s cabinet. And they’re all stuck in a lifeless, messy morass of contrivance. Sunil Grover playing Samar’s Man Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and one of the highlights of the show, stays icily unfazed beneath his 70s-style sunglasses. They may cut off the evil his character emanates but they can’t hide his silent struggle. Kumud Mishra, as a political veteran and the PM’s confidante, could have had much more but is handed a character whose keyword is banal. Gauahar Khan too, as Anuradha’s assistant, is short-shrifted. Between her and Grover’s roles was a mendacious space waiting to be unearthed. What you get instead is what Sarah Jane Dias (as Samar’s wife) gets to do all through the series. Turn ninety degrees and deliver a stare that’s as blank and bland as the script. (Streaming on Prime Video)


Post-card picturesque cinematography by  Christophe Nuyens and Martial Schmeltz lays the canvas for this adorable and amiable series. Based on the Arsène Lupin novels by Maurice Leblanc and directed by Louis Leterrier, Marcela Said, and Ludovic Bernard, the show’s ingenuity lies in adapting the Lupin stories as an inspiration to gentleman burglar Assane Diop (Omar Sy) who uses the novel’s plotlines to put his past life’s pieces together, even as he races to exonerate his father’s name (Fargass Assandé in a warm, touching act). And as the past-picture of senior Diop gets clearer, the conspiracy gets murkier. That blemish involves the all-powerful powerful Hubert Pelligrini (a superbly raspy Hervé Pierre), his wife and daughter (Nicole Garcia and Clotilde Hesme, both very good). Even if the plot’s a wee bit predictable—you know Assane’s wife and son will get entangled in a matter of time—there’s the best friend for all times, Benjamin (Antoine Gouy, an absolute lovable act) who’ll see Assane through it all. Plus, running on composer Mathieu Lamboley’s haunting theme, the pace and action are terrific, and Sy plays Assane with a picaresque charm, measuring the chasm of inequality and corruption with an affability that’s hopelessly hypnotic. (Streaming on Netflix)


As Kajol, playing fiery-mouthed actor Anu Apte began spewing cuss words, I began to wonder if this was she playing herself, or was there a point to her abrasive behavior? Would she ever calm down during Tribhanga (a standing stance in Indian classical dance forms), or would this incessant kvetching continue? Through writer-director Renuka Shahane’s lens, there’s a reason for this poles-apart deportment from Anu’s brother, the spiritual Robindro (a positively beaming and beatific Vaibhav Tatwawaadi). Those bits are hers to tell and yours to find out, but the fulcrum of the movie is the mother-daughter-daughter-mother relationship, where the superb Tanvi Azmi, playing the sibling’s mother, Nayan, forms the beginning of the chain and Mithila Palkar the newest link as Anu’s daughter, Masha. As Nayan’s bohemian past is slowly unpeeled—via Anu’s rantings and her mother’s biographer, Milan’s interviews for the book (Kunaal Roy Kapur bravely facing the brunt of those cuss words)—you’re partly reminded of the brooding flight of Bhumika and some bits of the fizzy Shakuntala Devi. As generations come together to face the past of Nayan’s actions and her—and their—future as a family, Shahane gently inserts the possibility of parenting mistakes being a genetic marker, and no matter what, we’re ultimately all too late in telling our parents that we love them. That we’re all trapped within a frame of mise en abyme, and there’s only one way out: to look inward. (Streaming on Netflix)