‘Tabbar’ Review: Gritty, Dark Series Leaves Crucial Question Unanswered
A scene from the series “Tabbar.” (Publicity photo)
By R.M. VIJAYAKAR/Special to India-West
MUMBAI — This one is as dark as can get. The protagonist is ex-policeman-turned-grocer Omkar (Pavan Malhotra), who will do anything to protect his “tabbar” (Punjabi word for family). By accident, a young man, Maheep (Rachit Bahal) who is carrying drugs, is killed at Omkar’s home by his ambitious young son Happy (Gagan Arora), and from here, things go on a murderous spiral as the entire family, comprising also of rebellious son Tegi (Sahil Mehta) and wife Sargun (Supriya Pathak Kapur) must hide the unfortunate incident for their own protection.
Worse, the murdered boy is the only brother, in fact the only surviving family member, of politician Sodhi (Ranvir Shorey) who gets alarmed that his brother is nowhere to be found. Sodhi is also contesting the local elections and Maheep has already been incriminated in drugs, ironically when Sodhi has based his electoral campaign on fighting the drug menace in Punjab. His rival, Ahuja (Rohit Khurana) plans to juice this to the maximum.
Sodhi’s right hand of sorts, Multan (Ali Moghul) is instructed to make his own investigations about the missing brother. Omkar forgets a lot of tricks he should not have with his cop background and as a man familiar with crimes, and keeps and then dumps the body in a very basic manner, unaware that the tide (literally!) can turn against him. And so Maheep’s rotting body is discovered in the river and Multan intensifies his investigation.
Meanwhile, Happy is in love with Palak (Nupur Nagpal) but her mother prefers she gets hooked to Happy’s cousin Lucky (Paramvir Singh Cheema), a cop who also happens to be involved in the investigation of Maheep’s murder.
After this begins a bloodbath, no less, as Omkar does not think twice about removing anyone who comes in his path, whether as an impediment or a possible threat. Progressively, his wife Sargun gets psychologically disturbed and unwell and wants to confess all to the law.
The series is well-made and gritty, speaking purely in terms of technique, and the emotional quotient is made strong by etching every significant character deftly and showing Omkar’s steely and unflinching devotion to his clan that makes him take ruthless decisions. But in the final analysis, unlike in the “Drishyam” film franchise and the series “Aarya,” we wonder how Omkar looks at his “tabbar”—does it truly include his entire family, or is safety from the law and possible noose all that matters?
In one stroke, thus, the series fails to answer this vital question, and not only emerges as a saga with a patriarchal mindset but also becomes totally realistic, given the kind of approach a conservative person from that region can have.
The series thus has many right points ticked but somewhere does not connect with and in fact contradicts its highly-propagated theme—protecting one’s family from the outcome of something that was not their fault at all. Those who will watch “Tabbar” will understand what I mean.
Two more and strong downers—the heavy dose of intermittent Punjabi dialogues (When oh when will they understand that India includes Punjab but not the reverse!) and the very stereotyped and banal BGM by Sneha Khanwalkar. This is a series that needed the expertise of stalwarts and geniuses in this crucial field. The cinematography by Arun Kumar Pandey, on the other hand, is completely in sync with the storyline’s mood.
Pavan Malhotra excels in his second gray-toned Sikh role after the recent “Grahan” and etches yet another powerful character after the unforgettable movie “Road to Sangam” (2009). His low-key and nuanced performance and the way his viciousness and determination blend have to be witnessed to be described.
A brilliant performance comes from Supriya Pathak Kapur as Sargun. The progress from a happy, loving wife and mother to a mentally-disturbed woman on sedatives is immaculately brought out by her. Gagan Arora and Sahil Mehta score as the two sons, and Paramvir Singh Cheema as Lucky is effective when the occasion demands. Ranvir Shorey as Sodhi is in good form, and Ali Mughal as his henchman Multan even better.