TAISH (2020)

Harshvardhan Rane as Pali in Taish
  • Release Date: 29/10/2020
  • Cast: Jim Sarbh, Pulkit Samrat, Harshvardhan Rane, Sanjeeda Sheikh, Kriti Kharbanda, Abhimanyu Singh, Saurabh Sachdeva
  • Created by: Bejoy Nambiar

Bolstered by stellar performances, music, style, and substance…Taish only falters in its climax

Bejoy Nambiar is one of the most underrated directors working currently. He made the scintillating Shaitan that to date remains one of Bollywood’s finest renditions of antisocial behavior among the affluent. His next was the bi-lingual David in which he added a whole new track for Neil Nitin Mukesh in the Hindi version. The film was a laudable effort at trying something different. Next, Wazir received a lukewarm response in the ticket windows and was not appreciated as much it should have been by the critics but I just adored that film. Amitabh Bachchan and Farhan Akhtar were utilized better than they have in years and the film was able to leave a telling emotional impact even though its climax felt rushed and opportune. Taish, Nambiar’s latest offering, is a series that is 6 episodes long but can be watched as a standalone film without the unnecessary breaks that do nothing to enhance its impact.

Taish, a Hindi word that means “in the heat of the moment” best describes the mental state of characters of the series. The Kalra’s are an affluent family whose younger son, Krish (Ankur Rathee) is getting hitched. Rohan (Jim Sarbh), the elder Kalra is a doctor, is in love with a Pakistani Orthopaedic surgeon, Arfa (Kriti Kharbanda), and has a real tough time standing up to his parents. The Kalra’s live a life of opulence in Southall, England, and apparently pay a price for it to the local enforcer, Kulli (Abhimanyu Singh). Rohan’s best friend is Sunny (Pulkit Samrat), a man who understands no restrictions. Days before the marriage, Sunny does the unthinkable of beating Kulli to a pulp for a reason that is not disclosed until the very end of the film and in his “Taish”, he jeopardizes the existence of the entire Kalra household and plunges them into a tragedy that they are unable to deal with.

Pali (Harshvardhan Rane) is Kulli’s brother and is at loggerheads with him as Kulli marries the love of his life Jahaan (Sanjeeda Sheikh). Angry and distraught, Pali threatens Kulli and moves ahead with disrupting his business wherever he can. When Kulli is assaulted by Sunny, the entire gang and Kulli’s family accuse Pali of carrying out the despicable act. Pali finds it impossible to accept that someone has assaulted his brother and it is he who is getting blamed for it. He vows to take revenge. The rest of the story is about how Pali sets about tracking down the assailant and how Rohan and his family try to save Sunny from getting murdered. While he is at it, Bejoy Nambiar gradually lifts the curtains on the reasons behind Sunny’s vicious attack on Kulli, the inter-relationship drama, and tragedies of two harrowed couples and the governing dynamics of the gangs of Southall and how it is impacted by the incapacitation of Kulli.

Pulkit Samrat as Sunny in Taish

I am pained that Taish could only get an OTT release and it was broken down into 6 episodes. This should have been released as a single unbroken film in the theaters. It would have had a far better impact in a theater where the viewer’s attention is generally transfixed with very little to distract them. The nature of the story and the approach that Nambiar takes to the storytelling is such that it demands attention. There is a lot of back and forth between timelines and it is extremely important to pay attention to these jumps to remains on the same page with the story and the characters. Since the gap in the two segments is just 10 ten days, it becomes that much more difficult to spot the difference between the characters unless you pay enough attention. However, it is this storytelling technique that makes the film so intense, gripping, and entertaining.

Nambiar’s films are always character-driven and that is exactly the case here. When you look back at the story after the film ends, it becomes apparent that the tale was simple enough and it was all in front of our eyes but how Nambiar told the story and how he had his actors perform made it all feel so special and unique. Another constant for most Nambiar films have been their amazing soundtracks and it is no different in Taish. The soundtrack here is breathtaking and I am shocked at how low it is featuring on the music banters. Not only does it suit the various moods and settings of the film, but it also adds a lot to the morose, tragedy, and even celebrations.

“Kol Kol” by Jyotica Tangri is my favorite track of the lot. It just hits you where it hurts. Through her rendering of the words, Tangri makes you feel the pain of the ones in question. The manner in which it is envisioned and performed in the series only adds to its beauty. “Re Bawree” by Prarthana Indrajeet and Govind Vasantha is my next favorite. When this song is playing, everything seems to be working out for the characters that we have come to adore but then something happens that brings their worlds crashing down. The shock of the tragedy would not have been the same had this song not accentuated our feeling of happiness and delight in the sequence.

Jim Sarbh as Rohan and Kriti Kharbanda as Arfa in Taish

Harshvardhan Rane is a revelation here. His character undergoes such an arch that it is almost impossible to recognize him by the time we reach the climax of the film. The transformation is not just physical but also in how he treats the only person that he apparently loves. He is brooding to start with but every subsequent tragedy and injustice that happens to him through the course of the film pushes him a little closer to the edge. We know he has turned completely when in a key scene he is shown consummating with Jahaan without an iota of love involved in the physical act. Right after the bit, Jahaan tells that he has changed. Pali’s character is likable — even tragic— to start with. But the personal tragedy in his life sends him down the cliff and turns him into something despicable.

I never thought Pulkit Samrat could play a character like Sunny. Nambiar does the smart thing by letting him be what we know him for and then makes the circumstances in the film influence him to the extent that his character transforms into a brooding and marauding beast. One has to agree that Samrat did well to come out of the image that he has created for himself. Jim Sarbh is terrific in a role that demanded a lot of emotional range. I just loved how wonderfully he switched between comedy, awkwardness, misery, and fear. This role will do his reputation a world of good. The two female characters enacted by Kriti Kharbanda and Sanjeeda Sheikh have merit and emotions associated with them. Sanjeeda’s character is the basis of a lot of emotional turmoil and in many ways impacts the actions of some of the characters. Saurabh Sachdeva as Sukhi hangs around Pali and doesn’t have much to do of his own but Sachdeva renders him with such heart and adds so much panache and gusto to the character that it becomes memorable.

Taish is not without its share of problems. After setting up its premise deliciously and throwing open the door to a lot of drama, the film gradually culminates to an insipid and questionable finale. There are a lot of things that just happen in order to tie up the loose ends and it is painfully visible. Characters are made to do things that make little sense and raise questions. The director banks on his actors to render these bits convincing and they do but the gaping holes can still be viewed by anyone who is willing to pay attention and look closer. The film tries to be a lot of things and in doing that fails to add credibility to some of its aspects. The track involving Sunny and his revenge was poorly envisioned and could have been done better. Pali does a lot of things towards the end that is questionable and there were moments when I wasn’t able to understand which way his character was headed. The abrupt ending was a big letdown in a film that had started with such flare and maintained a similar momentum for long.

Bejoy Nambiar should get all the accolades for trying to make something different and interesting again. Taish is the kind of film that will be talked about for its performances, music, and engaging drama. It will also be fodder for a lot of discussion about how good it could have been had it not ended so meekly. I had a good time with this film and for all that it has to offer, it does merit a view.

Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)

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