Friday, September 29, 2023

Entertainment Review: Taj: Reign Of Revenge

The second season of the Taj series drops on Zee5 not too long after the first. Taj: Reign Of Revenge, starts 15 years after Divided By Blood. Nobody seems to have aged in the interim, they just acquired longer hair.  Emperor Akbar is still wondering who would make a suitable successor; the rebellious Prince Salim, living it up in designer tents with an inexhaustible supply of booze, is still digging up the forest looking for Anarkali’s corpse.

Nothing much has changed in the tenor of the show, directed by Vibhu Puri, taking over from Ron Scalpello, except that the sons (Mitansj Lulla, Jiansh Aggarwal) of Salim (Ashum Gulati) and the unfortunate Maan Bai (Anushka Luhar) have grown up and are coveting the throne too, along with dissolute Uncle Daniyal (Shubham Kumar Mehra). Akbar (Naseeruddin Shah) wants the exiled Salim to come back and prove himself worthy of the throne, but the dude with tousled hair and man bun, is still too absorbed in wine and belly dancers. He does keep up his practice with the sword though, and beats a well-built rival in the wrestling arena.

Nobody bothers about poor Maan Bai languishing in the palace, doped on opium, but Akbar’s three queens (Zarina Wahab, Padma Damodaran, Sandhya Mridul) are still eyeing the position of the power behind the throne. As Jodha tells an upstart Mehrunnisa (Sauraseni Maitra), the men may rule, but they are ruled by the women who conquer their hearts.  Mehrunnisa wants to marry Salim and become the Mallika of Hindustan, but she is forcibly married to the pervert Ali Quli (Rouhallah Quazim) to get her out of the way. Akbar also shows her the wall where Anarkali was buried alive, but the woman who hangs around taverns, without purdah, to meet Salim is not so easily intimidated. The show does not bother much about history and has mixed and matched its own ‘facts’ (writers William Borthwick and Simon Fantauzzo), but it has been recorded that Ali was eliminated by Salim, and Mehrunnisa, renamed Noorjehan did become Empress and ruled the country, as her husband lay around intoxicated.

Mughal history is replete with men killing their brothers and nephews to snatch the crown; still, in spite of all the debauchery and violence, the show can hardly be taken seriously as history, because it all looks superficial, and the actors are middling to deplorable. The characters are barely human, and almost never seen in situations where they are not acting, so even if they are capable of human emotions, that does not show—they all look like robots in period outfits. Emperor Akbar was supposed to be a great ruler, but this show gives little indication of why he was so popular. The series is grand looking though, with no expense spared on sets, costumes and battle scenes.

Four episodes have dropped, four more to go but a sneak peak, hints at the origin story of a romantic future Emperor and the love of his life.

With the Mughals being redacted from history textbooks, films and TV will probably be the only record –fictional though it may be—of their lives and legacy for consumption by the general public.  So more research, less garnish, please.

Taj: Reign Of Revenge

Directed by: Vibhu Puri

Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Dharmendra, Aashim Gulati, Shubham Kumar Mehra and others

On Zee5

Deepa Gahlot
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best-known entertainment journalists. A National Award-winning fim critic and author of several books on film and theatre. She tweets at @deepagahlot

Latest Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected


Latest Articles