Bandish Bandits web series review: Intricately layered & full of surprises

The story

Pandit Radhemohan Rathore (Naseeruddin Shah) is the patriarch of one of the most eminent and respected musician families of Jodhpur. Radhe (Ritwik Bhowmik), his grandson, is fast emerging as his natural successor. On being anointed in front of Goddess Saraswati, he will be the custodian of all the traditional music that is a part of the 'Rathore gharana'. To keep finances from dwindling further, Radhe teams up with Tamanna (Shreya Chaudhry) to create fusion music. The videos go viral. And, soon secrets surface with Digvijay (Atul Kulkarni) asking for his stance in the family on being the legitimate heir. Pandit Radhemohan ruthlessly denies him the right. A competition will decide who will actually take the Rathore family legacy ahead.

The review

Ritwik Bhowmik struggles to strike the right chord with Hindustani classical music. His raag is congested with falsetto notes that he cleverly ambushes to earn the title of the ‘best student’. Despite appearing as a student of music, Ritwik’s on-screen chemistry goes slightly astray while getting intimate with Tamanna. This furthermore dulls Ritwik’s character. He tries his best to enliven his stance, with romance but there is something that’s gone amiss for this potentially romantic debutant duo.

Shreya Chaudhry showcases the rare combination of being fiery, patient and enigmatic at the same time. Her journey into the world of music isn’t portrayed as elaborately as that of Radhe. In fact, she starts off as a pop musician who undergoes a creative block and overcomes the same in Radhe’s presence. The duo’s professional involvement bolsters their characters immensely, but they are not exactly romantically tuned in. She rather shares better chemistry with Kunal Roy Kapoor.

Naseeruddin Shah plays the musical stalwart, just as he does in the film ‘Sarfarosh’. However, in the series, his role is a lot more pronounced as he plays a crafty patriarch who will do anything to keep his title of ‘Sangeet Samrat’. He graciously traverses between shades of grey, dishing out the experience with his craft to the youth.

Sheeba Chaddha doesn’t have much dialogue; but she makes her presence felt by involving an extensive use of her facial expressions, and an accurate mime. Rajesh Tailang essays the role of Rajendra. He looks somewhat clueless as Mohini’s husband, and Radhe’s father. Tailang’s craft isn’t appropriately utilised by Anand Tiwari. We have seen him play more intense characters in ‘Selection Day’ and ‘Delhi Crime’. In fact, Amit Mistry who plays Devendra (Radhe’s uncle), has a more pivotal role than him in the series.

Atul Kulkarni delivers a stellar performance yet again in ‘Bandish Bandits’. His screen presence can be discounted like in case of ‘City of Dreams’ and even in ‘Bandish Bandits’, but his character usually demands commanding presence making for an important part of the overall plot.

The end suggests that there could be another season. The music is phenomenal and the series artfully introduces the youth to the charisma of Hindustani classical music. However, there should have been more insight given on the various aspects of classical music to make it more interesting. Overall a must watch, as the plot is intricately layered and is full of surprises.

Name of the series: Bandish Bandits

Platform: Amazon Prime

Number of episodes: 10

Cast: Shreya Chaudhry, Ritwik Bhowmik, Naseeruddin Shah, Sheeba Chaddha, Atul Kulkarni, Rajesh Tailang, Amit Mistry, Kunaal Roy Kapoor, Rahul Kumar, Dilip Shankar and Rituraj Singh

Director: Anand Tiwari

Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy

Rating: 4/5

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Free Press Journal