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Ek Ticket, Ek Black Coffee: I watched Fauda remade as Tanaav only to realise they forgot to put the salt in Noon Chai

I wish the makers of this series had experienced Kashmiriyat instead of just showing superficial tensions (or Tanaav) that don’t rise up to a ‘Fauda’ (chaos).

Ek Ticket, Ek Black Coffee: I watched Fauda remade as Tanaav only to realise they forgot to put the salt in Noon Chai

Tanaav is available to stream on OTTplay Premium and SonyLiv

  • Manisha Lakhe

Last Updated: 06.24 PM, Nov 27, 2022

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I am one of the multitudes that are willing to be held captive by Indian remakes. Heck, we even instinctively do Indian dream casting for Hollywood biggies. Tenoch Huerta is gorgeous, but wouldn’t Hrithik Roshan be perfect as Namor? And Tabu as the Queen of Wakanda? That Wakanda would be forever imprinted in our heads!

So when my bestie called me up to say that Tanaav was a remake of Fauda, my first reaction was, who would be Doron? 

Most people would ask, ‘Where would the show be filmed?’ And without even having seen the trailer, film junkies would guess, Kashmir. Oh the predictability of creating a narrative where people who do not wish to be a part of us must be against us so call them ‘terrorists’ and let’s just kill them. 

No, you do not smell a separatist here. All I’m saying is that the Kashmir story has been done to death and is hence predictable. Even the Tamils struggling for self-determination in Sri Lanka and the spillover in the South of India have been highlighted in the movies and made for OTT shows. Filmmakers rarely look to our North East or even at the jungles of the center of our country. It would be too politically incorrect. 

So I watched Tanaav on SonyLiv, hoping to keep the obvious comparisons between Doron, Um Nidal, Abu Hammad, Boaz, or even orange chocolate-loving Marwa with the characters who play them in the Indian version. A shiver ran down my spine as I wondered: who will play the scary Al Makdasi?

When they showed apples instead of grapes, I settled down with my coffee, mentally hoping it would not be a literal adaptation. There are those who like the checklist. Like matching scene with scene, event after event. But that doesn’t give the adaptation its own life, a unique character that is needed because one, geography, and two, history. Personally, I find parallels dull. If there is no uniqueness to the tale, you might as well see the original, no?

Manav Vij as Kabir (Doron) was a good choice. But that one throwaway line, ‘You got a medal for this’ didn’t convince me that Kabir had spent most of his active service life chasing Umar. Kabir’s frustration and his tendency to not obey orders are true to the original. He seems uncomfortable doing the ‘seduce the doc’ part. 

Speaking of seduction, the extramarital affair between Kabir’s wife Nusrat (Sukhmani Sadana), and Kabir’s colleague (Amit Gaur) seems to come out of nowhere. I sigh deeply into my coffee. Clandestine affairs do translate culturally, but meeting at a park and exchanging inane words like ‘I was fun once’ do nothing for the audience. Instead of feeling any empathy with a woman who feels lost, left out, and shut off from her husband’s renewed madness about tracking and killing Umar aka Panther, she comes across as a nagging, dissatisfied woman. 

Here we are, watching cardboard cutout security chaps led by Arbaaz Khan (whyyyyy?!) shooting at cardboard cutout Kashmiri separatists. Even Shashank Arora who plays Panther’s right-hand man looks infinitely bored as Junaid rather than committed to the cause. Satyadeep Misra always comes across as authentic, no matter what role he plays. And so does the awesome Rajat Kapoor. 

You will hear people say that Tanaav stands on its own. Then how are we to understand why Sahiba Bali’s character who is shown to be at the base office suddenly perks up to go shoot Umar. They forgot to show that she wants to be in the field and the boss ignores her (they establish this well in Fauda). If you have watched Fauda and loved it, then you know what’s going to come next. Tanaav ends up looking like a copy-paste job without giving cultural context any weight, and if you are searching for nuances from characters, you end up looking as cross as Zarina Wahab looks in every recent movie and show in which she has acted. 

And when you’re cross, you want to complain: Kashmiris don’t call their sister ‘aapa’, it’s ‘beni’, local Kashmiris don’t infest cafes, tourists do, New York Times did a better job locating graffiti in Srinagar than the sad little political statement on the wall, when they say we’re having Noon Chai with our ‘mehman’ it means they’re sheltering separatists… 

Watching this first season made me want to admit that I have never liked the pink Noon Chai, but I’ll take the Kulcha any day. And yes, if one must have Kehwa, then I want to have it with sheermal (and not just any sheermal, the ‘Hema Malini’ sheermal from Pampore). I wish the makers of this series had experienced Kashmiriyat instead of just showing superficial tensions (or Tanaav) that don’t rise up to a ‘Fauda’ (chaos). 

Does this sound like a rant against a show that looks rather nice? No matter what your answer is, ‘Waen chayeew chai cupah!’ (now let’s have a cup of tea)

About the author:
Manisha Lakhe writes on films and TV shows, is a poet, teacher, traveller and mom (and not necessarily in that order). Could sell her soul for Pinot and a good cheesecake.

(Disclaimer: Views expressed in the above article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of OTTplay. The writer is solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.)