Taj—Reign of Revenge continues both history and hysterics

Sauraseni Maitra and Aashim Gulati in Taj—Reign of Revenge. Photo: Trailer Video Grab.

As I had stated in my review of ZEE5’s Taj—Divided by Blood, history is just about the easiest thing to twist, manipulate, change, hide and more. One more aspect is there that can be interpreted and twisted at will: Logic.

In Season 2, termed the first part (4 episodes) of Taj—Reign of Revenge (at the outset, let me say that ‘Taj’ here means the crown and has nothing to do with the Agra monument), we find the series, like desperate TV serials that take a time leap, go a straight and unexplained 15 years ahead. During this long period, only Prince Salim (Aashim Gulati) and his stepbrother, Prince Daniyal (Shubham Kumar Mehra) look different (not necessarily older)!

Salim, still in the throes of hatred for his father and Daniyal (for having killed Anarkali) is a shade plumper, but even this Mughal ‘Devdas’, like Bobby Deol in Dev D., is fighting fit despite being even more addicted to liquor. Not to forget his ongoing affinity for female flesh!

Salim’s sons have grown up now, and so has Mehrunissa (Sauraseni Maitra as adult). But, by one of those miracles possible only from filmmakers who serve illogic the wrong side of entertainers Manmohan Desai and David Dhawan, even Emperor Akbar (Naseeruddin Shah) looks exactly the same as 15 years earlier, and so do his three queens, played by Sandhya Mridul, Zarina Wahab and Padma Damodaran, Akbar’s sister (Shivani Tanksale), and Man Singh (Digamber Prasad). The ‘baddies’ Abu Fazl (Pankaj Saraswat) and religious head Badayuni (Aayam Mehta), Man Singh’s sister, Man Bai (Anushka Luhar), also escape the ravages of time.

In this series, Devdas…Oops! We mean Salim!… is no less furious than the angry young man a.k.a. Amitabh Bachchan of yore. But he is still obsessed with where Anarkali was buried all that time ago, as if he is keen on collecting her mortal remains (horrors!) after so long! He then swears revenge on Daniyal, who had  killed her (revenge on hold for 15 years!) and dad (a la Amitabh Bachchan in Trishul) and is not interested in the throne. This even as the spirit of Anarkali (Aditi Rao Hydari) ‘lies’ on his body affectionately and tells him to take the throne and responsibility and names him Jahangir (Lion of this world—so now we ‘know’ where that name came from—a dead woman!), so does Mehrunissa, a commoner who loves him, and is married to a debauch, advise him to claim the throne.

Daniyal, of course, is no less horrific than Prem Chopra, Pran, Ranjeet or Gulshan Grover put together. He is scowling away, and the prince’s henchman…Oops again!… Senapati (Sahil Sethi) is the very debauch I spoke about. When this tyrannical husband is killed by Salim (or his men, I forget which!), Mehrunissa is ordered by Akbar to join the harem! And when Salim saves his sons from being poisoned, they still turn against him because he kills the poisonous man who planned it all. Logic? Go take a walk in this rain of revenge!

Meanwhile, Salim does everything to goad, provoke and exasperate his father beyond measure, and Akbar finally calls for his arrest (Now, did you watch Shakti with Dilip Kumar and Amitabh?) even as Salim establishes a small kingdom in Allahabad with the help of his aunt (Shivani Tanksale) and others and kills all the conspirators against him. Except Daniyal, of course. But that’s another (hi)story, that will release June 2 in another four hysterical…Oops yet again!…historical episodes.

To mention that Reign of Revenge isstill a shade more bearable than Taj—Divided by Blood, is to say nothing more than the fact that it was precisely that. The performances remain on the same level, though I was impressed by Sauraseni Maitra, with her expressive eyes and natural simplicity, and her father, Giyas Beg, played by Pawan Chopra.

The bane of the saga is the sordid “script”, penned by foreigners who seem to be more influenced by Amitabh Bachchan, Hindi film villains, Salim-Javed, Shakti in particular and of course the worst of Hindi revenge potboilers. History seems to be a bit too much as a subject in which to get pass marks for them. If all this is history, then what you read now is a thesis on the Archimedes Principle!

Rating: **

ZEE5 presents Contiloe Pictures’ Taj—Divided by Blood Created by: Abhimanyu Singh Produced by: Abhimanyu Singh & Roopali Singh  Directed by: Vibhu Puri Written by: Christopher Butera, William Borthwick, Simon Fantauzzo & Vibhu Puri Music: Ian Arber Starring: Dharmendra, Naseeruddin Shah, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sandhya Mridul, Rahul Bose, Zarina Wahab, Aashim Gulati, Taaha Shah Babussha, Shubham Kumar Mehra, Sauraseni Maitra, Shivani Tanksale, Aayam Mehta, Pankaj Saraswat, Digambar Prasad, Jiansh Aggarwal, Padma Damodaran, Pawan Chopra, Mitansh Lulla, Sahil Sethi & others





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