India's 'Bandish Bandits' is the cozy fall binge you need

Tamanna (Shreya Chaudhry) and Radhe (Ritwik Bhowmik) fall in love in gorgeous Rajasthan while secretly making hit music. "Bandish Bandits" is now streaming on Amazon Prime. Image: amazon All products featured here are independently selected by our editors and writers.If you buy something through links on our site, Mashable may earn an affiliate commission. By Proma Khosla2020-09-18 11:00:00 UTC In the six weeks since it released on Amazon Prime, you’ve either heard about nothing but Bandish Bandits or haven’t heard of it at all. I fall in the former camp, watching friends and family fall in love with the Hindi-language Indian drama series and its infectious soundtrack while I waited for “the right time” to binge all 10 episodes. That time is now. Bandish Bandits (that's pronounced "BUND-ish" bandits, despite the apparent wordplay) is the story of Radhe (Ritwik Bhowmik) and Tamanna (Shreya Chaudhry), two singers from vastly different artistic backgrounds who cross paths serendipitously in and proceed to work together — and fall in love. They're a modern musical Romeo and Juliet, complete with domineering family members, high-stakes concerts and competitions, and the nefarious added presence of social media. The entire series was helmed by creator Anand Tiwari. [embedded content] The show is not objectively outstanding, but the Bandits' world, particularly Radhe's classical training and family background, is thoroughly immersive and intricate. He studies Carnatic vocal music with the rigor and tenacity you'd expect of any vocation, but it's an art form with which many viewers aren't acquainted and that makes it all the more transfixing. He spends hours a day on intricate riffs and combinations, sometimes alone and sometimes with his revered music teacher grandfather (Naseeruddin Shah). Tamanna's world is more familiar to a wider audience, and her storylines weaker because of it. She's a product of the pop music industry and an online video sensation. To her critics, she's a synth-enhanced automaton churned out of a hit machine. To people like Radhe, his guru, and their peers, she's not even on their radar.  In a world governed by social media and online clout, how do we measure the worth of an artist? The show explores this dichotomy a little, but not nearly enough for its intriguing premise: In a world governed by social media and online clout, how do we measure the worth of an artist? Old traditions remain, but how do we gage them against followers and view counts? It's a discrepancy that has always existed in newer arts like film and television, where ticket sales can be at odds with critical reception — but for centuries, fine art like music was off-limits to those without a certain level of money, privilege, or education. Singers and musicians engaged with audiences long before their work was recorded and mass produced. Over time, qualified experts make up an increasingly small subset of the audience consuming any piece of art, and that affects its perception.  Radhe participates in a singing competition that tests his classical training, accompanied by harmonium and tanpura players. Image: amazon What Bandish Bandits does explore is a sweet, simple love story — maybe a little too simple in how quickly and conveniently Radhe and Tamanna fall for each other, but both leads are endearing enough to pull it off. It also starts as a bit so they can adequately produce a love song together, and there's nothing more satisfying than a fake relationship that gets Too Real. They have some kind of contrived fight every few episodes, but two key things work against them as a couple: That Radhe is noticeably more talented, and that he's kept their entire relationship, both working and personal, secret from his family. The story suffers mainly by introducing the season's supposed big bad villain after several episodes instead of early on, thereby shifting the overarching conflict by not building in time for viewers to adjust. There's similar thinness to Tamanna's extremely vocal admiration of Queen Eli, a global music icon who is not seen or heard from throughout 10 episodes.  Tamanna could be an infinitely more interesting character if she were not the latest manifestation of Indian cinema's years-late fascination with the manic pixie dream girl — in this case a conspicuously light-skinned, wealthy North Indian girl who's edgy because she wears shorts, has sex, and streaks her hair with blue. There is little else to her identity until far too late in the season (nowhere is her inauthenticity more clear than in a series of perplexing wardrobe choices). But even with its flaws, Bandish Bandits remains inviting from its first minute to its last. It brings you into the world of Indian classical music and its tension with the modern form. It interrogates Indian patriarchy from Radhe's mother (Sheeba Chaddha) to the supposedly liberated Tamanna. Celebrated Bollywood composers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have created a wonder

India's 'Bandish Bandits' is the cozy fall binge you need
Tamanna (Shreya Chaudhry) and Radhe (Ritwik Bhowmik) fall in love in gorgeous Rajasthan while secretly making hit music. "Bandish Bandits" is now streaming on Amazon Prime. Image: amazon All products featured here are independently selected by our editors and writers.If you buy something through links on our site, Mashable may earn an affiliate commission. By Proma Khosla2020-09-18 11:00:00 UTC In the six weeks since it released on Amazon Prime, you’ve either heard about nothing but Bandish Bandits or haven’t heard of it at all. I fall in the former camp, watching friends and family fall in love with the Hindi-language Indian drama series and its infectious soundtrack while I waited for “the right time” to binge all 10 episodes. That time is now. Bandish Bandits (that's pronounced "BUND-ish" bandits, despite the apparent wordplay) is the story of Radhe (Ritwik Bhowmik) and Tamanna (Shreya Chaudhry), two singers from vastly different artistic backgrounds who cross paths serendipitously in and proceed to work together — and fall in love. They're a modern musical Romeo and Juliet, complete with domineering family members, high-stakes concerts and competitions, and the nefarious added presence of social media. The entire series was helmed by creator Anand Tiwari. [embedded content] The show is not objectively outstanding, but the Bandits' world, particularly Radhe's classical training and family background, is thoroughly immersive and intricate. He studies Carnatic vocal music with the rigor and tenacity you'd expect of any vocation, but it's an art form with which many viewers aren't acquainted and that makes it all the more transfixing. He spends hours a day on intricate riffs and combinations, sometimes alone and sometimes with his revered music teacher grandfather (Naseeruddin Shah). Tamanna's world is more familiar to a wider audience, and her storylines weaker because of it. She's a product of the pop music industry and an online video sensation. To her critics, she's a synth-enhanced automaton churned out of a hit machine. To people like Radhe, his guru, and their peers, she's not even on their radar.  In a world governed by social media and online clout, how do we measure the worth of an artist? The show explores this dichotomy a little, but not nearly enough for its intriguing premise: In a world governed by social media and online clout, how do we measure the worth of an artist? Old traditions remain, but how do we gage them against followers and view counts? It's a discrepancy that has always existed in newer arts like film and television, where ticket sales can be at odds with critical reception — but for centuries, fine art like music was off-limits to those without a certain level of money, privilege, or education. Singers and musicians engaged with audiences long before their work was recorded and mass produced. Over time, qualified experts make up an increasingly small subset of the audience consuming any piece of art, and that affects its perception.  Radhe participates in a singing competition that tests his classical training, accompanied by harmonium and tanpura players. Image: amazon What Bandish Bandits does explore is a sweet, simple love story — maybe a little too simple in how quickly and conveniently Radhe and Tamanna fall for each other, but both leads are endearing enough to pull it off. It also starts as a bit so they can adequately produce a love song together, and there's nothing more satisfying than a fake relationship that gets Too Real. They have some kind of contrived fight every few episodes, but two key things work against them as a couple: That Radhe is noticeably more talented, and that he's kept their entire relationship, both working and personal, secret from his family. The story suffers mainly by introducing the season's supposed big bad villain after several episodes instead of early on, thereby shifting the overarching conflict by not building in time for viewers to adjust. There's similar thinness to Tamanna's extremely vocal admiration of Queen Eli, a global music icon who is not seen or heard from throughout 10 episodes.  Tamanna could be an infinitely more interesting character if she were not the latest manifestation of Indian cinema's years-late fascination with the manic pixie dream girl — in this case a conspicuously light-skinned, wealthy North Indian girl who's edgy because she wears shorts, has sex, and streaks her hair with blue. There is little else to her identity until far too late in the season (nowhere is her inauthenticity more clear than in a series of perplexing wardrobe choices). But even with its flaws, Bandish Bandits remains inviting from its first minute to its last. It brings you into the world of Indian classical music and its tension with the modern form. It interrogates Indian patriarchy from Radhe's mother (Sheeba Chaddha) to the supposedly liberated Tamanna. Celebrated Bollywood composers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have created a wonderful classical fusion soundtrack, and Rahul Kumar is a riot as Radhe's endlessly loyal and wisecracking best friend. Set in the gorgeous North Indian state of Rajasthan, the scenery will have you itching to buy plane tickets to feel like you're part of the show too ... you know, someday. Bandish Bandits is now streaming on Amazon Prime. Let's block ads! (Why?)