TABBAR (2021)

  • Platform: Sony Liv
  • Release Date: 15/10/2021
  • Cast: Pawan Malhotra, Supriya Pathak, Ranvir Shorey
  • Creator: Harman Wadala

Horrifying, engaging, and haunting! An under-appreciated series that you need to see today

— Ambar Chatterjee

Omkar Singh, a middle-class father is living his life with all the hassles that come with not having enough. The only solace that he has in his life is his two sons and his wife with whom he has shared more than just blessed matrimony. His elder son is preparing for civil services entrance. His younger son is an underachiever but he loves him too nevertheless. Even with all the problems and limitations of his life, Omkar Singh seems to be in a happy place every time he sees his family come together. Tragically, this sole source of peace and happiness in his life is threatened and looks set to be violently snatched away from him when a shocking incident resulting from a misunderstanding puts his entire family at the risk of being wiped out by the most powerful and ruthless man that Omkar Singh knows off. He decides to do all that he can to keep his family safe by keeping the horrifying secret under wraps.

Shockingly, the harder he tries to hide the secret, the more pronounced it gets leading Omkar Singh to commit more crimes and slip down into an abyss. Soon there comes a time when the lines between good-bad, right-wrong, and innocent-guilty get blurred to the extent that we are longer able to relate and empathize with specific characters of the series. Tabbar is an experience that will give different individuals different ideas and vibes about the story and the characters and how it appeals to an individual will depend on his/her idea of right and wrong. This is also the aspect of the series that makes it special.

There is a lot to love in Tabbar and most of it has got something to do with the execution of the story and the performances. The performances are the highlights of the series and almost all of it is spot on. Pawan Malhotra is a veteran who brings his A-game to the series. The way he conducts himself around his wife, other family members, and with the people of the locality will remind you of someone or the other from your day-to-day life. That is what makes his character so powerful and his actions bewildering as we are able to draw parallels with real people in our lives. This aspect of his rendition compounds the feeling of shock and horror to the inhuman things that he is shown doing to protect his family. I was forced to wonder how certain men that I know of might react if they were subjected to a similar predicament. The fact that Malhotra is able to extract such reactions from me and probably countless others was what underlined the greatness of his performance.

Supriya Pathak is sensational in her rendering of Sargun Kaur, the mother of the household. As the series progresses, we see her character gradually sink into a dark abyss owing to her knowledge of all that her husband was doing, her inability to cope with these horrors, and also the fact that she couldn’t do anything to stop him as he was doing it all to protect the family. All these emotions and horrors compound in her mind and gradually push her to a point of no return. This happens progressively throughout the series and Pathak vividly documents every step of it through her masterful rendition. Her astute rendering of the character adds a lot to the horror of the series. It must also be added that the audiences find a medium in Pathak to ask the questions and say the things that they must be having in their minds.

Ranvir Shorey as the anti-hero Ajit Sodhi is phenomenal. True stakes for the protagonists can only be triggered when they are up against antagonists that are believable, fearsome, and have real inspiration to do harm to the protagonist. Sodhi, in that line, has more reasons to kill Omkar and his family than any of the other villains that Omkar picks up on the way to saving his family. As the story progresses, we witness Sodhi burn in the fire of revenge and get close enough to his perpetrators but every time he is left hanging as Omkar either makes his way out with swift action or is aided by conducive coincidences to make a narrow escape. This further adds fuel to the raging fire of revenge burning in Sodhi’s heart and makes him even more dangerous. I just loved how Shorey was able to live these aspects of the character and brought it to the screen for the audiences to experience. This series wouldn’t have been the same without his rendition of Sodhi.

Apart from the performances, the background score and the feel that it brought with it to the atmosphere of the series made many of the sequences even eerier and haunting. The tracks of these series are not getting the kind of attention that they deserve. However, I am confident that with more people discovering this series, its music and songs will definitely get more attention and will be loved.

The editing and the pacing of the series are terrific. Once the plot is set up, the events unfold at a breakneck pace but there is enough time given in sequences of importance for the thrill and the drama to build up. This not only makes these sequences easier to follow and be emotionally invested in but also lets the actors work their magic on the audience. The cinematography is in strong keeping with the feel of the series and most of the frames are washed out of any vivid colors giving it a very desolate and bleak look complementing the overall mood and feel of the story. I just loved the sense of realism and authenticity that the makers infused in the proceedings through the performances, production design, score, and color palette.

My only issues with the series were with the aspects of it that are unavoidable in stories of this nature that are so over-the-top and dramatic. There are lots of conducive coincidences that aid the protagonists and that, after a while, become too obvious and bizarre to accept. The characters are shown doing certain things that they could have easily avoided but then the series might not have the kind of impact that it does owing to these things. Some of the characters have, what we have come to recognize as plot armors and no matter what happens, they come out of every predicament with their lives sticking to their bones.

Tabbar reminded me of Drishyam. It shows us what would have happened had George Kutty (the protagonist from Drishyam) been forced into a corner and had to go on a killing spree instead of disarming his adversaries by using his intelligence. This series also shows us what would “Drishyam” be like if it was not so bright and jolly and was envisioned as a series that depicted horror through the unbridled actions of the human characters. For all this and more, Tabbar should be appreciated, lauded, and experienced. This is definitely a must-watch.    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
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