An ode to India’s rich classical tradition with an unadulterating mix of catchy, Bollywood music has given audiences an extended cinema experience with Amazon Prime Video’s Bandish Bandits. Directed by Anand Tiwari of Udaan and Go Goa Gone fame, the show is a larger-than-life experience with a unique tryst of sorts.
The central characters of the story are newcomers Ritwik Bhowmik and Shreya Chaudhary, but everywhere else you look- there are seasoned faces of the performing arts landscape.
Cinematically, the series is a laurel for the beautiful Rajasthan locations, landscape, and encompassing the architecture of the area. The shots do justice to the vibe and atmosphere, and amplify the overall experience.
A traditional, young boy devoted to his musical lineage, Radhey is named after his grandfather and seeks to fill in his shoes as the heir to the Rathode Gharana.
Radhey, essayed by Bhowmik strives hard to be the rightful successor to stern yet exceptionally talented Radhey Mohan Rathode, essayed by veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah.
Shivam Mahadevan and Javed Ali create magic in the background with their seasoned, soulful notes but a youthful novelty to their voice which fits Radhey’s character beautifully. Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty voices the experienced Radhey Mohan Rathode, and the actors leave no stone unturned in bringing the emotions of the strong vocals on screen with their expressions.
Tamannah Sharma, or Blue Bandit is a pop singer essayed by Shreya Chaudhary. An internet sensation, her first record with reputed JP records bombs as she rides off to Jodhpur on a bike to come over her creative block and meets her father, Harshvardhan Sharma essayed by Rituraj Singh. It is him, who gives her the idea to explore music in the heartland of Jodhpur and have a concert meanwhile. Her manager, Kunal Roy Kapoor leaves you in splits with his on-point comic timing.
Jonita Gandhi’s voice as Tamannah is the perfect modern tinge with the refreshing, bold and confident voice amplified with Chaudhary’s diva vibe and non-chalant, city-girl adventurism.
Kabir is Radhey’s well-connected college friend, a generic millennial whose indulgence in ‘everything sensational’ also makes him a great partner. Scurrying him away for Tamannah’s concert as he works in the haveli to make ends meet for the family, he gets the two leads to meet. In a relationship starting with a scuffle over the superiority of classical or modern-day music, they transcend a path of partnering for their own needs- Radhey needs money and Tamannah needs the contract to be able to perform with her idol Queen Eli.
Radhey is sure of his commitment to earn his grandfather’s approval, and goes to any height to make it possible. His family’s support and guidance is what makes him strive, and his decision to secretly sell his talent is also for rescuing the family. But his training with Tamannah wreaks havoc, and it is in the realms of frustration that they confess love to each other.
Modern-day love has ambition and tends to be competitive. But what unites each love story is the selfess desire to see the other person grow, and sacrifice your interest where the need be. Tamannah and Radhey have their highs and lows, but they strive to stick together even after being chalk and cheese in their universes.
Atul Kulkarni’s entry to the show gives an interesting turn, and explores complicated familial ties, broken love stories and a desire to be accepted back yet avenge the rightful even after being established for his talent. Radhey takes on this veteran family member with respect and grit, and even as Kulkarni sows seeds of divide while being the villain with a cause to be jilted, having been wronged time and again by the patriarch Shah- Radhey emerges as the dedicated prodigy who is supported by family and love alike.
Meghna Malik’s strong mother character Avantika who is hard to please yet turns heaven and earth upside down to fulfil her daughter’s dreams is Tamanna’s Radhey Mohan Rathode. Because of her, she decides to work hard and earn success, not .
Root for Sheeba Chadha’s underdog savior, and relish the magic of father-son duo Shankar Mahadevan and Shivam Mahadevan’s performances with the magic of Javed Ali’s voice, and a gratifying climax with a cliffhanger end-getting our hopes up for a sequel!
I recommend that the family comes together to watch this uniting, inspiring musical journey, but it is a beautiful experience which you can embark on with a lover (special recommendation to long-distance relationships on personal experience!) or even the self, for some realizations.