There was a time when Manoj Bajpayee was the next big thing. He was not the leading man in Satya but he became synonymous with Satya instead of JD Chakravarthy who played the titular role in the film. This was a real acting star, someone who could take on the biggest and privileged dynasts of Bollywood with his sheer talent and persona. For the next couple of years, many people waited with bated breath to see Bajpayee and he did come up with a few satisfactory turns such as Shool but he remained sadly underutilized. Bollywood was just recovering from its worst phase of the 80s and 90s and although there was a glimmer of hope, there were very few directors who could do justice to an actor like Manoj Bajpayee. Over the next decade we almost saw him getting banished into oblivion, coming back occasionally with supporting roles or villainous turns and then finally delivering a knockout punch with Gangs of Wasseypur, unsurprisingly helmed by Anurag Kashyap, the guy who once wrote Satya and helped both their careers to take off.
This turn in GoW gave Bajpayee’s career a new lease of life and since then he has been going through a period of resurgence. As of now, everybody is awaiting Aligarh and whoever has seen the trailer is sure that Bajpayee has even bested is earlier performances with this one. However, even before that, hardcore Bajpayee fans can enjoy another short but delightful performance by him in this short film called Taandav which has just been released on YouTube.
Taandav is a simple concept and with a duration of barely 10 minutes. It is not trying too hard to say too many things. It starts with what looks like a cocktail of a rave party and a Ganapati Visarjan, with many revelers dancing wildly, wearing, wait for it, Guy Fawkes masks! And witnessing them from a distance is a policeman Tambe played by Bajpayee and some of his colleagues.
In his personal life, Tambe is torn by all the worldly worries. He needs to secure admission for his daughter in a public school but it is too expensive and he cannot afford it. His wife looks at him with contempt and he has no answer to any his troubles. But during a raid his team comes across a stash of notes. What should he do? Or more importantly, what should a filmmaker do when he has just 10 minutes to wind up?
This is an interesting question because there are many potential themes at play here. Low paid and overworked cops, systemic corruption and its causes, nature of morality and many heavier themes are hinted at but more interestingly it goes for a conclusion that the title mockingly suggested but I never expected after first five minutes of the film. This is where the film surprises and the reaction to it will depend on your personal leanings. But it must be said that the director Debashish Makhija, who is also an author and has earlier worked in projects such as Black Friday and Bunty aur Babli, makes a brave choice by simply going for this ending and we would like to see what he does with a full fledged film. As for Bajpayee, he shows his vast range within this short duration, from helplessness to guilt and from greed to sheer nonchalant exuberance at the end.
However, this is not all. This short film may look too short and without full closure because it is supposed to be a stepping stone for something bigger. Yes, the actor-director duo actually wants to make a feature film and this short is a way to showcase the potential of their idea. They are hunting for producers this way and all we can say is, best of luck!
Watch the short film here…