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Exclusive: Kritika Kamra & Sarah Jane Dias On Playing Politically Outspoken Women in Tandav

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Indian politics, with its testosterone-led majority, is notorious for being a treacherous territory with a dark underbelly. So what happens when women of power and agency make their entry upon the scene? It means the tide is about to turn and things are set to heat up. This is precisely the magnetic persona the women of Tandav bring to the screen. The Amazon Prime political-drama series, which premieres on January 15, comprises a host of awe-inspiring female characters played by Kritika Kamra, Sarah Jane Dias, Dimple Kapadia, and Gauahar Khan – all politically charged, vocal, and pivotal to the shrewd workings of the world in Tandav. 

Created by Ali Abbas Zafar, the nine-episode series tracks the story of political players in Delhi as they one-up each other through wit and wiles in the race to the ultimate seat. Samar Pratap Singh (Saif Ali Khan), in the lead, finds a steady contender in Anuradha Kishore (Kapadia), as well as student leader Shiva Shekhar (Mohd Zeeshan Ayub). But these frontline players are held up by those around them with schemes up their sleeves. Ayesha Pratap Singh (Dias) and Sana Mir (Kamra), partners of Samar and Shiva respectively, are instrumental to the way political progress charts upwards in Tandav. In conversation with SheThePeople, actors Kritika Kamra and Sarah Jane Dias talk about their roles and how the show impresses upon the idea of women in politics.

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On Being Politically Active At The Student Campus

As more women demand their rightful place in education, employment, and the public space, their voices are creating an indelible mark on politics that should only reach skyward here on out. OTT shows like Tandav that explore ideas of gender and representation with a wider lens than mainstream film content are also helping fill that gap.

“My role is of a student of political science with journalistic dreams and who is politically active on campus,” Kamra says. “She is a strong, fierce character. She is outspoken and at the forefront of things at the university, which we know influences the main politics of our country. So many leaders have come from university and campus politics. I’ve never seen anything like this on Indian television before.”

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For women – whether students on campus or outside it – their “femininity” often becomes one of the contending factors that bars their involvement in politics. But are these notions valid? Who is forming these definitions? Dias thinks, “People have their opinions of how everyone should and shouldn’t be, which gets compounded by age-old beliefs. In the show, the women have strong opinions and strong personalities but you also see vulnerable sides to them, which is what I enjoy about the way they have been represented in Tandav.”

Strength Of Women In Politics As Shown In Tandav

Female representation – though relatively increased in India today – is still dismal. The number in Parliament is only at 103, as we recently reported. Since women are so far and few between in the highest decision-making seats of power, the general trend is for society to see women and politics as mutually exclusive entities. As the feminist discourse helped by popular online content mends these trenches, women are recognising the immensity of the power they hold. The women in Tandav too mirror this strength. But does it come at the cost of ‘womanhood’ or the perceived idea of it?

Dias says, “In Tandav, the women are strong but they’re also feminine – someone’s a mother, someone’s a wife. What I don’t appreciate is that women in places of power are considered masculine, overpowering, overbearing, too much of an opinion. But on the flip side, if you’re ‘soft,’ you don’t have much of an opinion. That gets addressed in the show.”

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Watch our exclusive interview with Kritika Kamra and Sarah Jane Dias here: