By Rachit Raj

Taish is at once a thriller, a story of a dysfunctional family and a cautionary tale on anger management.And yet, it is not enough to justify it’s six-episode long runtime (divided into episodes after being made as a film), despite some sincere acting, and beautiful shots of London that provide the grim background to this tale of moral ambiguity.

Bejoy Nambiar directs his new film/series like the fluttering shadow of the person who entered the scene with Shaitan (2011). It is a dismal fall in the craft of filmmaking that burdens Taish into a cyclic curse even when the narrative tries to escape and be something more authentic than its most limiting self.

But Nambiar fills the narrative with too much flimsiness to make anything real, and in extension, worth feeling for. Everything is too staged, too thin, to matter. The grey-ness of the characters is not a trait, but a plot-point; the dangling idea of anger management never comes through beyond a very surface-level adage of masculinity.

This is not to say that Taish does not have moments that make you want to stay with these characters. Roughed up grey characters are always interesting to spend time with, after all. And here, there is an army of those.

The setting is quite simple. A big fat Indian wedding becomes the breeding ground of two emotionally volatile individuals, Sunny (Pulkit Samrat) and Pali (Harshvardhan Rane), while a host of other characters get in the middle of their obsession to be one above the other. The most important amongst them is Rohan (Jim Sarbh). Sunny’s childhood friend, and Aarfa Khan (Kriti Kharbanda), his girlfriend, as they try to pacify the feud between Sunny and Pali, both imbibing the man-child mentality, eloping from an Imtiaz Ali film and finding a hiding spot in a Nambiar narrative.

 The problem with Taish is its refusal to become anything more than a simplistic thriller that is neither too complex, nor too original for the actors to work with. Writers Kartik R. Iyer, Anjali Nair and Gunjit Chopra do not take the premise as an opportunity to explore the psychology behind the aggressive obsessions of these characters. It simply turns it into a plot-point, a narrative lust, so to say.

This also impacts the performances, that become increasingly unreal as the narrative goes ahead. Jim Sarbh, an otherwise decent actor, seems like he is on auto-pilot mode through the narrative, maybe intuitively aware of the fact that he has been locked in a project where mediocrity is the currency. Pulkit Samrat and Kriti Kharbanda are wasted in roles with one-liner depth, while the immensely talented Saloni Batra is underused in a lousily written role.

In the final episode of Taish there is an elaborate scene of a violent confrontation against the setting of pulsating disco lights. For a moment there you see the Nambiar who dazzled the screen in Shaitan. A little glimpse of promise lost in the sea of some absurd, inadequate narrative choices that turn this potentially good opportunity into a chaotic miss.

Bejoy Nambiar said that the idea to cut Taish into an episodic series came from people spreading the word of watching The Irishman (2019) by dividing it at certain plot points. The problem here is that with episodic division, there is often nowhere to hide as a storyteller. A narrative does not become intense by adding a few grey characters, or by adding a darker palate to the narrative. Bejoy Nambiar shows sparkles of what he carries within as an artist in Taish, but there needs to be more to his artistic mind than the one that has repeatedly fallen into the abyss of clueless mediocrity. Taish is just another addition to his filmography of lost opportunities.

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