Tanaav review: Sudhir Mishra's Fauda remake is well-intentioned but fails to capture nuances of Kashmir conflict

Nov 12, 2022 09:03 PM IST

Tanaav review: As a standalone spy thriller, this Hindi adaptation of Fauda starts well but falters in its attempt to depict the depths of the Kashmir conflict.

Adapting an Israeli series set in the West Bank into a Hindi series that talks about the Kashmir conflict is a daunting task. For that alone, Sudhir Mishra deserves praise. But intent alone does not create good art. The execution is more important. And that is where Tanaav is found lacking. It starts out on such a promising note but meanders through a soggy middle as it fails to truly capture the nuances and essence of the Kashmir conflict. Also read: Arbaaz Khan reveals he gave the first audition of his life for Tanaav

Tanaav review: Sudhir Mishra's thriller is the Hindi adaptation of Israeli series Fauda.
Tanaav review: Sudhir Mishra's thriller is the Hindi adaptation of Israeli series Fauda.

Like the original series, Fauda, Tanaav is about a counterinsurgency officer who has to return to the field after it is uncovered that the dreaded militant he killed--Panther--is actually alive and planning something big. Kabir Farooqui (Manav Vij), who is now an overweight jam maker returns rather reluctantly when called in by his boss (Arbaaz Khan). Meanwhile, the Panther Umar Riaz (Sumit Kaul) and his man Friday (played by Shashank Arora) are all set to complete their ‘bada maqsad’. The cat-and-mouse game between them forms the crux of the series.

Tanaav is as much about the people and their lives as it is about Kashmir. And when I say people, it refers to both sides, the authorities as well as the militants. What the series does well is that it presents a human side of the ‘other side’ without glorifying or taking a stand either way. It shows the motivations, heroism, and faults every human has, regardless of their political affiliation and stance. That is a tricky line to take and very few Indian projects have managed it well (Raazi comes to mind). Tanaav does well there in setting the tone.

Where it lacks is the lack of tanaav (stress, urgency) in the narrative. Even though the stakes are high almost always, the story is never gripping. It is exciting for sure and does keep you guessing (unless you have seen the original, of course). It also displays a lack of understanding of the Kashmir conflict. Unlike Fauda, Tanaav does not really get to the bottom of the conflict it is depicting. It never brings that aspect into the story. Tanaav could have been set in any conflict zone and it would still look and feel the same. The adaptation hasn’t really brought in a local flavour apart from the locales, costumes, and a few lines in Kashmiri.

The actors have done their parts well, which isn’t surprising considering the stellar ensemble cast the show boasts of. Manav Vij as the renegade soldier Kabir is believable and earnest, while Sumit Kaul shines as his foil--the Panther. But the real star is Shashank Arora. As the young deputy of the Panther, he brings in vulnerability, a moral code, and also ruthlessness all at once. It’s a complex character and Shashank has done justice to the role. Arbaaz Khan is good in the lighter, understated scenes but whenever he has had to get loud and authoritative, he has faltered. Among the support cast, Sukhmani Sadana and Zarina Wahab stand out with their brief but powerful performances.

Tanaav is a classic case of ‘what if’. In Fauda, it had a great script, which fortunately could be adapted to Kashmir so well. It got great actors and a director with such a strong pedigree. Yet, it is lesser than the sum of its parts, which is a shame. Mind you, it’s still not a bad show, not by any stretch of imagination. But it could have been so much more. It is currently streaming on SonyLiv.

Series: Tanaav

Director: Sudhir Mishra

Cast: Manav Vij, Arbaaz Khan, Shashank Arora, Sumit Kaul, Waluscha Da Souza, Ekta Kaul, Rajat Kapoor, Zarina Wahab, and MK Raina.

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    Abhimanyu Mathur is an entertainment journalist with Hindustan Times. He writes about cinema, TV, and OTT, churning out interviews, reviews, and good old news stories.

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