Taish means rage, the internet tells us, and there is plenty of it on display in Bejoy Nambiar’s latest attempt to match style with substance.
The story, by Nambiar, revolves around a bunch of aggressive and angry people. Some of them have been nursing their wrath for years. Others are waiting for an excuse to act out.
Taish has been released on Zee5 both as a film as well as a six-episode series. The web version is longer, at over 180 minutes, with a non-linear narrative that careens back and forth in time. The movie version is relatively leaner (143 minutes) and has a simpler and more watchable plot.
The web series begin with a bust-up in a restaurant in London that leaves a man paralysed. Flashbacks gradually reveal the connections between the attacker and his victim. Two families are placed by side by side – one wealthy and posh with a mansion by a lake, and the other steeped in crime and perched in Southall in London.
A wedding is to take place at the mansion. Krish (Ankur Rathee), the younger brother of Rohan (Jim Sarbh), is rehearsing his dance steps with the wedding organiser and trying not to snap at his wife-to-be Mahi (Zoa Morani). Rohan’s macho bestie Sunny (Pulkit Samrat) shows up in style and eases the introduction of Rohan’s Pakistani girlfriend Arfa (Kriti Kharbanda) to Rohan’s bigoted father.
A surprise guest at one of the pre-wedding functions jolts Rohan so badly that he has a panic attack. Sunny sets out to take revenge on behalf of Rohan, setting into motion a chain of events that ends as badly as anticipated.
The vendetta ropes in Pali (Harshvardhan Rane), one of the Southall gangsters. Pali and his brother Sukhi (Saurabh Sachdeva) have turf war problems with gangland boss Kuljinder (Abhimanyu Singh). Pali’s entanglement with Kuljinder’s sister-in-law Jahaan (Sanjeeda Shaikh) contributes a further knot to an already complicated narrative.
Taish ambitiously sets out to explore themes of pointless revenge and inchoate rage. Sunny and Pali are both prime candidates for anger management lessons. They rampage on behalf of others – one for a dear friend, the other for his mentor – with the suggestion that their hugely disproportionate responses are the results of their life experiences.
Neither character can justify his actions in a project that is low on psychology despite its ambitions. Sunny and Pali glower in their respective corners and when they finally confront each other, but their outbursts never feel organic to the story.
The movie and series raise the volume, in keeping with their subject matter. The early bits involve a great deal of chest-thumping, literal and otherwise. It’s a relief when everybody calms down and takes stock of what they hold dear.
Among the nicer quiet scenes is a bruising dinner conversation between Arfa and Rohan’s Muslim-hating father (Ikhlaque Khan). The family dynamics in Kuljinder’s household give Sanjeeda Shaikh, as his sister-in-law, and Saloni Batra, as his wife, several moments to display their acting chops.
Shaikh and Batra are among the better performers in a production that unwisely places histrionic demands on far too many cast members. Pulkit Samrat and Harshvardhan Rane swagger about and clench fists and jawlines, but Jim Sarbh’s more level-headed Rohan makes a bigger noise. Also memorable is Saurabh Sachdeva as Pali’s menacing brother.
The stylish production is packed with songs and has been slickly shot by Harshvir Oberai. Taish always looks poised to say something deep and memorable about the need to process old wounds and think before you act. It’s often loud and unwieldy, but it’s flashy and good-looking too in its own way.