Cast: Harshvardhan Rane, Pulkit Samrat, Jim Sarbh, Kriti Kharbanda, Sanjeeda Shaikh
Director: Bejoy Nambiar
If you ever watched Bejoy Nambiar’s Shaitan (2011), it’s quite likely that your most vivid memory from the film is the ‘bulletproof mattress’ sequence. Rajeev Khandelwal’s cop braves heavy fire from goons in a dingy hostel as the camera swims over the ceiling and under the cot. Khoya Khoya Chand, infused with reggae beats and a thick accent, perhaps the only good remake of a classic song, sounds over echoing gunshots, making it one of the top five slick action sequences in Hindi films. However, nine years later, with his latest film/web series Taish, Bejoy seems to have given up the flashy (no matter how cool it may have been) for the mature. Thankfully, it is still one of the more stunning and stylish offerings on Zee5.
Watch trailer for Taish:
Taish is about men, their rage and how it brings about the end of all that is good. Sometimes these men live with their rage for years, letting it simmer and corrode their hearts and sometimes, it comes gushing out at the slightest provocation. Harshavandhan Rane, Jim Sarbh and Pulkit Samrat’s characters are all consumed by this rage and only one manages to rein it in.
The show opens with Pulkit breaking a man’s skull in the toilet with a dislodged washbasin. Nothing is known about the two men at this point except that one is filled with a rage so intense, there is very little that could justify it. The story goes back a week in time to an NRI family’s stately home in England. There is a wedding underway—Rohan (Jim) has come home for the wedding of his younger brother. Rohan’s childhood best friend is Sunny (Pulkit), who gets a Bollywood hero’s entry while his Pakistani girlfriend Arfa (Kriti Kharbanda) gets a villain’s welcome by his ‘orthodox’ Hindu family.
There is another family of murderers and criminals in the fray here and their issues are far more serious. Pali (Harshvardhan) is heartbroken as his girlfriend Jahaan (Sanjeeda Sheikh) has been married to his older brother. The older brother’s wife (Saloni Batra) cannot bear children and gets her younger sister to wed her husband. The lovers are separated but rage of betrayal from his own brother still burns in Pali. However, when Sunny almost kills his brother in the toilet, Pali channels the rage into seeking revenge. But revenge begets revenge and rage begets rage as past wounds are opened and new gashes made. Entire families are destroyed in a matter of days, all due to men and their unbridled anger. If nothing else, Taish is a warning against the all-consuming power of rage.
Taish, was supposed to be a feature film but has also been released as a six-part web series. The series version is supposed to have longer scenes and more context. Bejoy and his editor went full throttle in the edit room, creating a jumbled up, overlapping timeline. However, the story itself is simple and straightforward enough that despite the frequent switches in time, things never get confusing. What’s more is that sometimes, the payback is indeed worth it. When the reason behind Sunny’s rage is revealed, the toilet battle does play under a new light. The third episode opens with sirens blaring and lights flashing at traumatised faces and the rest of the 30 minutes are spent chasing up to that moment of shock—an almost cathartic halfway point to the series.
The performances by all are satisfactory, with Jim, as is expected of him by now, emerging as the brightest star. Harshvardhan plays Pali as the brooding, tortured soul while Pulkit manages what he could with a character as annoyingly prone to provocation as Sunny. But Jim, being the only voice of reason, brings a much needed freshness and respite in the hot winds of anger and violence. Not just in calm, he also delivers in moments of trauma and hurt with convincing emotions.
The women, sadly, find little to do except provide emotional support to the men. Kriti’s job in the entire film is mostly holding people’s hands, patting them on their backs and screaming at them to do the right thing. There is no change in her from the beginning to the end of the series and even Sanjeeda’s Jahaan suffers the same. She was left stranded in her relationship and the status quo continues. She has zero agency and all the sadness in the world. Sanjeeda does, however, delivers a believable performance in all her scenes of despair.
One of Taish’s strong points is how stunning it looks. The OTT space is still thirsting for a good creative eye and the cinematography on this one doesn’t disappoint. If a lighter scene of parents meeting the girlfriend is shot through a mirror, five episodes later, the same mirror technique is employed for a more sinister, darker scene of a man with revenge on his mind. Deep, cold hues of blues and greens are the perfect fit for the sunless, countryside England wedding and also the mouldy jail cell. Towards the latter half, when a showdown is all but imminent, the blues are replaced with murderous neons and flashing reds. If there is one thing about rage, it does look better in red.
Taish is not without its faults but Bejoy Nambiar’s style certainly makes for a great pull. At a time when not many are bothered about keeping things pretty, specially not on OTT, shows like these deserve your attention.
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