Although this isn’t that show, and I don’t mean it merely in terms of the action — just some pacier editing could help us get to the point, in far less time, retaining more excitement
Series Name: Tanvaav
Dir: Sudhir Mishra
Cast: Manav Vij, Shashank Arora
Unsure if the fact that I never watched the original, Fauda (on Netflix), enhances my clean-slate experience of catching its official Hindustani remake (on SonyLIV). Or does that deprive me of context, plus measure for comparison?
Either way, the reason I’d refrained from Fauda, in the first place, was a perception coloured by folks, whose opinions I trust — that the global, super-hit show, developed by former members of Israel Defence Forces, was indeed a latent, if not blatant, propaganda machine against Palestine. Could be wrong — just didn’t feel inclined enough to verify that claim.
What’s propaganda, anyway? One-sided view of any world — veering towards subjective omissions, and sometimes full-on falsifications too. But then people will believe what they’ve already adjusted/conditioned their brains to. Unlikely that Palestinians were Fauda’s core-audience.
Similarly, I suspect, a fair example of a propaganda film for Indian viewers would be The Kashmir Files (2022), on the ghastly exodus/genocide of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in 1990. Indeed, polemics, with an overt/covert political purpose, is a legit, popular genre in films/books/shows.
This series is likewise set in Kashmir — caught between nations with nukes. Only that instead of getting caught up with either (or any other) side, the series perfectly zooms/zeroes in on individuals.
Whether that be Indian secret service agents — say, Satyadeep Misra’s character, who strangely disappears too soon, in deathbed, longing for a “civilian life” — screw this bloodshed, and Indo-Pak ‘masla’ (issue), anyway.
Same with the girl who lost her fiancé in a gunfire by the same security operatives, on her engagement day, and is recruited to avenge that massacre: “Who wants to set an example,” she asks. She just wished to spend her life with her lover.
Both the young girl and that guy, and sure enough, most other characters, belong to the same land, on fire. What if you were to treat Kashmir as a religious war — almost everyone here is Muslim as well.
Even if there are two men with the same last name, Malik — it mustn’t matter that one is Hindu (Rajat Kapoor), the other Muslim (Danish Hussain). They’re from India and Pakistan. They unofficially interact still. You can have your sympathies, humanism will trump nationalism and all other -isms, inevitably.
Tanaav (Conflict) is written, directed by Sudhir Mishra (disclaimer: friend; also a philosopher of sorts, for me) — best known for Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2005), possibly India’s best political film still. As a thinking artiste, his voice robustly belongs just as well in the opinion-editorial space. But he cleverly desists from all of that in this adaptation.
Which is the first thing you take away from this 12-episode series — that it’s possible to pull off one on Kashmir, without devolving into the obvious siyasi/political stuff. Everybody knows the contentious background to this man-made crisis anyway.
Also, as a character roughly puts it here — one man’s martyr may well be another dying a dog’s death. The ruinous ‘eye for an eye’ argument hardly needs overstatement anymore. The messaging — “What does one choose, between a fanatical goal, and the future of children” — is all there.
Only that as an audience, like this thriller itself, we’re rightly more focussed on the plot, all through. That is, an all-out, 24x7 man-hunt for a terrorist, nicknamed Panther, otherwise known to be dead to the world.
A solidly calm, brooding, broad, boar-like Manav Vij’s character leads this man-hunt from the Indian spy agency’s end—with the same fanatical, fatal junoon (passion), that you find in the supposed jehadi, at the other end.
Around similarly harried, excellently performed warring men (Shashank Arora, et al), with no life beyond their mission, is obviously Kashmir — how green is this valley; authentic, real (shot by cinematographer, co-director, Sachin Mamta Krishn).
Everyone’s evidently on the move. Does the narrative grip you, therefore? All through — nope; not in a way that, say, a spy-sensation like Family Man would; similarly in Kashmir, designed like ‘James Bond’, only with a character, who’s his polar opposite.
Although this isn’t that show, and I don’t mean it merely in terms of the action — just some pacier editing could help us get to the point, in far less time, retaining more excitement. There really aren’t many segues in this story about nabbing a guy either. It can feel flat over long stretches, with no mystery left to unravel — just a question of how many times they’ll find him, and/or miss.
We could further explore others facets of the characters — as they go about love and life in the time of terrorism, yes. But that’d be riskier deviation too. Tough to maintain that balance, I guess. As tough to delve into current Kashmir, skimming over specificities, even as you change names of Hurriyat (to Harqat) or IB (to ISA).
The scrapping of Article 370 (2019) is also a reality that changes everything about J&K — notably freedom of press, that the ISA boss here seems concerned about in 2017. Curious to know what sort of leap the show’s second season will take.
*YUCK **WHATEVER ***GOOD ****SUPER *****AWESOME