Ali Abbas Zafar is known for making philanthropic films, and over the years the filmmaker has proven with many Salman Khan films that he has certainly cracked the code for creating content that will be loved by the masses. With films like Tiger Zinda Hai, Sultan and Bharat, Zafar succeeded in creating a larger-than-life world in which you might not agree with everything, but still ride.
With Ali Abbas Zafar’s debut web series Tandav, which premieres on January 15 on Amazon Prime Video, we take a look at what moves his films.
1. A star in the middle
The use of the phrase “content is king” became the new norm after mainstream cinema realized that it is not necessary for a film to have a khan at the center to make 100 rupees. And while it isn’t necessary for you to be impressed by a film starring Salman or Shah Rukh, it will surely draw you to theaters on the opening weekend. Ali Abbas Zafar believes in the old school philosophy of attracting audiences with the promise of a big star. Since first working with Salman Khan in the Sultan, Zafar has put a “big star” in the lead. In Tandav, the cast is led by Saif Ali Khan.
2. Larger than life experience
In keeping with his philosophy of building a world around a big star, Zafar’s films believe in giving audiences a larger than life experience. Be it the exaggerated fitness montage of Sultan, the unrealistic plot of Tiger Zinda Hai, or even the elevated and exaggerated world of Bharat, Zafar’s films are set in a world that is far from reality and in which it usually works for his favor.
3. The simple storytelling
Upon examining Zafar’s previous work, it becomes clear that his projects do not necessarily believe in shocking audiences with unexpected twists in the plot, but rather that he believes in the simplicity of telling a story. Be it the simple story structure of Bharat, which jumps from decade to decade, or the “fallen heroine” in the Sultan, Zafar’s films do not embark on a nontraditional narrative format. Tandav’s trailer shows that this particular aspect of Zafar’s work is being questioned here.
4. A love story at its core
All Ali Abbas Zafar’s films so far have had a love story at their core. Be it the family drama Nur Brother Ki Dulhan, the spy thriller Tiger Zinda Hai, the sports film Sultan or even the gangster film Gunday, the main characters in all of these films were driven by love. While Gunday felt like an ode to friendship, the movie only got its conflict because the two male leads were in love with the same woman. This recurring factor in Zafar’s filmography is likely to change with Tandav, as teasers suggest that it is largely political drama.
5. Music with a longer shelf life
Ali Abbas Zafar has become a major filmmaker over the past decade, and it cannot be ignored that this was also the decade that Hindi film suffered an epidemic of remixes and reboots. Be it the melodious “Kaisa Yeh Ishq Hai” by Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, the beloved “Jag Ghoomeya” by Sultan or the extremely popular “Dil Diyan Gallan” by Tiger Zinda Hai, Zafar, with the help of Sohail Sen and Vishal-Shekhar managed to retain the charm of Hindi film scores at a time when their future looks rather uncertain.