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Saturday, December 05, 2020

Taish review: Style over substance

The web series goes back and forth in time, and then leaps to the present, leading to some amount of confusion. And then there is Nambiar’s old nemesis, the lack of substance which you end up missing in all the style.

Written by Shubhra Gupta | Updated: October 30, 2020 4:43:02 pm
TaishTaish is available on ZEE5.

‘Taish mein aa jaana’ literally translates into ‘flying off the handle in exasperated anger’, and that’s exactly what Sunny Lalwani (Pulkit Samrat) does practically all through this 6 part web series, created and directed by Bijoy Nambiar. He simmers, glowers, and explodes, and the ripples are far-reaching: we see the consequences building up, to a suitably bloody climax.

Because it comes from Nambiar, you expect flash, and stylistic flourishes, and there are those in plenty, in this series about old enmities and new balances being played out amongst two families based in the UK. Rohan Kalra (Jim Sarbh) goes home for his younger brother’s wedding, a big, fat seven-day affair, where the wealthy gathering is dressed in tasteful pastels laden with zardozi, dripping diamonds as big as rocks. No one is suffering from any monetary hardships, quite clearly, but soon the merriment starts curdling: not everything is well between the groom, Krish (Ankur Rathee) and the bride Mahi (Zoa Morani), and an ultra-violent interlude, the outcome of an old wound being re-opened, leads to a horrific death, and everything changes.

The other family – Pali (Harshvardhan Rane) and his brother Sukhi ( Saurabh Sachdeva) – lives off crime. Their entanglement with tough Southhall mobster Kuljinder Brar (Abhimanyu Singh), which includes Pali’s intense feelings for the latter’s sister-in-law Jahan (Sanjeeda Shaikh) leads to another cascade of events. And we end up with two well-muscled men, Sunny and Pali, squaring up against each other, in prison (where they engage in very Hollywood prison-like things), and outside, in the real world.

The web series goes back and forth in time, and then leaps to the present, leading to some amount of confusion. The pleasure of listening to characters speaking authentic rapid-fire ‘pindon-wali’ Punjabi is aimed at those who understand the language, and props to the makers for not diluting it, but it’s not as easy for the rest of us, who have to take recourse in subtitles. And then there is Nambiar’s old nemesis, the lack of substance which you end up missing in all the style.

One of the things that web series have done is to give the creators the luxury of building on thematic threads. It’s also given actors who don’t get much to do in formulaic Bollywood films to flex their wings. We do get a sense of Punjabi families who immigrated to the UK decades back, who have assimilated depending upon how old, or young, they are: the Brit accents surface, and drop, but we see where they are coming from. Kriti Kharbanda underplays well as Rohan’s Pakistani girl-friend, and she and Sarbh, who has an arc with some growth in it, have some good moments. Shaikh is made to act teary far too much, but her interactions with her ‘bhabhi’ (Saloni Batra) leave an impact. What’s also nice is watching men and women working on relationships in an adult manner, which includes, gulp, having sex, breaking up, and being abandoned.

Which is all very well. It’s a well-shot, well-produced series, and goes along at a clip, mostly. But, crucially, we don’t really get the reasons behind all the ‘taish’: sure, Sunny is an uncontrollable hothead, but why? What makes him such a one? The insides of Pali, as played by Rane, are opaque, too. Sarbh and Sachdeva, who channels menace nicely, are better options to look at. We stay with the series, but we also end up asking: what, really, is the of point all that male rage and testosterone?

Taish is streaming on ZEE5.

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