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JAR Pictures’ Tabbar Is A Tense Family Drama

Tabbar (SonyLIV, 8 Episodes)

Starring  Pavan Malhotra, Supriya Pathak, Gagan Arora, Paramvir Singh Cheema, Kanwaljeet Singh and Ranvir Shorey 

Directed  by  Ajit Pal Singh

Rating: ****

Tabbar Movie Review: There is much that is wrong with  Tabbar, an 8-episode tense and  traumatizing  drama that asks what  Manoj Bajpai  asked in The Family Man: how far would you  go to protect your family?

Not that Tabbar is in any way related to The Family Man.They are  as separate  as Jalandhar and Jaffna.  Set in  the  curiously vivacious  bustle of Jalandhar(cinematographer Arun Kumar Pandey captures the  city’s  din with dignity)   it has the extraordinary Pawan Malhotra as Omkar  a petty  entrepreneur and  patriarch with a wife and two sons.

One  night , their lives go horribly wrong and thus begins a distressing  horrific downward spiral that can only go one way. Like I said, Tabbar  portrays  a doomed family downfall in episodes that  don’t always add up.Malhotra’s character  doesn’t quite make it to the grade  of a gender-reversed Mother India . The actor is not to blame if his  character takes  off on  a  killing spree after one accidental murder to cover up the original crime.And you begin to wonder whom  Omkar  is protecting.The actor  need not take  responsibility for his character’s  actions.

Once we accept the deep flaw  in Omkar Singh’s skewed  morality and messy   modus operandi  , it all makes a  kind of blindsided sense. The writing(Harman Wadala and Sandeep Jain) grows  exponentially  hazy, as  the relationships  so  lovingly  adumbrated  in  the  initial  episodes begins to crumble under  pressure.

Director Ajit Pal Singh exercises  a  tight control over the  proceedings that prod the drama from the  poignant  to the  perverse(the  murder of an old  family friend  is  particularly unfortunate). There are  no loose ends  in  the  narrative.Although  bits of it may seem  oddly  incongruous  to  the outsider it’s  finally  about plotting ways to keep the family from falling apart.

Given the growing absurdity  of  the  crime-leaden family’s predicament Tabbar carries the weight of overstatement well on its  shoulders. Pawan Malhotra and Supriya Pathak bring nuances  to their  stereotypical  roles(strong obdurate  father, frail  devoted mother) that are hard  to pinpoint. Sahil Mehta  and  Gagan Arora as their two sons, frequently look lost in the maze of  crime. But  Paramvir  Singh Cheema as their Sikh cousin-cop  positions his character’s dilemma well into a storm of strongly  handled crises.  Cheema is  a find.

But why  must  serials underuse the   extraordinary  Ranvir Shorey ? As  the grieving gangster/druglord  determined to seek revenge  for his kid brother’s murder Shorey struggles hard to lend dignity and credence  to his uni-dimensional character.In  Episode 5 he gets  some space to shine when passages showing him exercising extreme physical violence are  juxtaposed with  hands  on the piano.

It is  not a moment  of any remarkable subtlety. But it is a sharply-drawn inward breath of  characterization that one finds grievously  absent from the series as  whole. Nonetheless as a portrait  of  a family  in  a crisis Tabbar  holds your attention till the last.

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