Bandish Bandits- Review
Updated: Sep 4, 2020
Available on Amazon Prime
Very early in the series, when I see a grumpy old maestro taking measured steps to walk out into a courtyard and sit primly on a pedestal, we know that the series is going to revolve around this man.
It does. Or we think it does until the maestro’s grandson (Radhe – Ritwik Bhoumik) takes over. Aided by some other members of the Rathod family, the grandson slowly and steadily makes his path to the zenith of Indian Classical singing scene. By striving to win a competition.
Simplistic, you might think!
But it is also love story at the heart of the feuding musical family. It's a story that even if very simple, is enabled by the music that takes it to another level.
So, the boy meets a few girls on his road to success. He is slated to be married to one Sandhya (Tridha Chaudhury) for prosperity reasons but seems to love another, Tamanna(Shreya Chaudhury). That’s happening at one level.
At another level, his father having exhausted all means of keeping the family financially secure, is clutching at straws that consist of a lot of compromises. And his wife, the boy’s mother, also seems to be keeping her own secrets.
In all, a lot of subtext.
Shankar-Ehsan-Loy create history with the music and compositions. From electro pop to pure classical renditions, the music compositions form the backbone of this story. Thy are well placed and keep the pace going fairly brisk.
The story is also held together by a commanding performance by Naseeruddin Shah as the maestro Pandit Radhemohan Rathod, who's a renowned classical singer here (what's it that the man cannot do, we ask ourselves!). In one scene, he is trying to hear through one ear, it is exactly what you’d see patients with deafness do when they are supposed to hear something. They fidget with their hearing angles as if the angles will bring the sound to them. It is at another level, frankly.
Rajesh Tailang as the grandson’s father and Amit Mistry as the uncle live their roles well and there is an element of music in their lives too that’s a little too abrupt in the series.
Sheeba Chadha is someone I am starting to admire hugely. The silences speak evocatively. It helps that she has large soulful eyes that keep a constant vigil on what is happening in the family. She is the mother of the young grandson who is trying to win a competition and there is a surprise that she throws on us, later in the series. We have to look out for that!
Digvijay (Atul Kulkarni) is the maestro’s son from his first wife and he is the reigning champ of classical singing in the country who the young grandson is set to dethrone. And you just have to see him sing. He sings the classical songs on screen with playback from noted classical singers and never for a second you'd know someone else is singing, he is that good with his on screen singing and expressions.
Fittingly, his climax song is, all through, a tight close up as the director, Anand Tiwari, knows he has a star singing his song.
Naseer's singing voice is Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty and that itself is a ticket to sleepless nights and grandest seats in front of your streaming device.
Anand Tiwari was first seen as an actor in Mumbai Meri Jaan and was best remembered as a junkie in Go Goa Gone (Babaji ki Booty). And now this superb director with a complete understanding of Indian classical music and its nuances among other things.
What a jump!
That brings us to Shankar Mahadevan and the assortment of singers singing for the variety of characters on screen. Apart from Shankar, there's Shivam Mahadevan who takes over the youth brigade with the classical songs, there's Javed Ali who has a very different and distinctive voice texture, there's Farid and Aman who rock it with "Garaj Garaj".
Lording it at a very different level is Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty!
A oft repeated plot but a dew fresh treatment redeems this series!
- Indraneel Majumdar