Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tees Maar Khan

Genre: Comedy
Credited cast:
Akshay Kumar ... Tabrez mirza Khan aka Tees Maar Khan
Akshaye Khanna... Atish Kapoor
Katrina Kaif ... Anya
Raghu Ram, Rajiv Laxman... Johri brothers
Sanjay Dutt ... Narrator
Original music ... Vishal Dadlani (as Vishal)Shekhar Ravjiani (as Shekhar)

Before I began to write this review, I was hoping to actually end 2010 on a very positive note. Let me put it bluntly that all my hopes were dashed when I watched this movie because it was a very poorly executed version of any comedy movie in Bollywood - mainstream or otherwise - for as long as my memory takes me. If you had a handycam, and went about shooting scenes during a train ride from Bandra to Churchgate, you would probably make a better movie by editing it a bit naming it "Tees minute ka Story".

High hopes rested on Farah Khan's shoulders since her last release (Om Shanti Om) which was bolstered by ShahRukh Khan and a very average cast otherwise. Farah probably wanted to break the mold of being a SRK-dependent director. Unfortunately, she fails miserably and falls flat on her face. Anyway, back to the movie.

The movie starts out with some bizzare animations that seek to highlight how Tabrez Mirza Khan (Akshay Kumar, last seen on the streets of Pali Hill looking for comedy tutors) took up the name of "Tees Maar Khan" (self-christened, of course. TMK, in slang language, means a very overly smart person). TMK apparently got his training right from the time he was in his mother's womb when she was obsessively watching all cop/gangster movies, a la Abhimanyu from the epic Mahabharata. The credits break away and show TMK being caught in Paris and being deported by two bumbling agents for the Indian secret service who have a very strong "tendency" towards each other. Giving them the slip, he then gets contacted by the Johri brothers (Raghu Ram and Rajiv Laxman, of MTV Roadies fame) who are after a train-load of gold and ancient artifacts that are being transported to Delhi.

I do want to mention that Anya (Katrina Kaif) does appear in between strutting her stuff, but doing nothing more. Luckily for the tortured viewers, "Sheila ki jawaani" - the most awaited item song for this month - shows up in the first 15 minutes and we could have easily walked out. It was only the unavoidable ignominy of having spent between 200 INR to 500 INR (depending on where in the world you see it) trapped us in watching it till the complete end. The rest of the movie has Anya screaming her throat out in her half-anglo Indian accent not knowing what else she needs to do. It might have helped dubbing her voice, but not enough to get my money's worth - sorry. Mentioning Anya in any other paragraph is a waste of time, for me and you.

TMK is also surrounding by his three irritating cronies who seek to boost the sagging crescendo of the movie by repeating pathetic dialogues like "Khanon ka Khan - Tees Maar Khan". This is further not helped with TMK himself touting his escapability by repetitive blurbs of seemingly pathetic comparisons, which I won't repeat here to make the reading easier. Of course, there are numerous jabs on various actors, especially SRK, with references to "Mannat" (SRK's bunglow is named that) and the above mentioned dialogue - to name a few. About 30 minutes into the movie, these take up more than 50% of the entire set of spoken sentences and that's when you realize the combination of your husband (Shirish Kunder) writing the dialogues, copying the movie from an old Italian flop move ("After the Fox") and raising three kids is just a recipe that comes close to disaster. I'm hoping this will give Farah a chance to spend more time with her kids at home and re-think on how to get her mojo back. (Hint, hint: Don't fight with SRK).

Enter Atish Kapoor (Akshaye Khanna, probably the only saving grace of the movie), who plays on over-the-top actor with an obsessive compulsive disorder for winning an Oscar. Outdone by Anil Kapoor who won it for "Dumbdog Millionaire" (not a typo, that's the changed name in the movie), Atish is ready to do anything to get the coveted statuette. TMK uses this to his advantage and gets Atish to agree and star in his fake movie, to be used as a ploy to get Atish and a set of unsuspecting villagers to intercept the train carrying the loot of costly artifacts. Akshaye Khanna stands out in this insipid production and gives a performance that has been a good characteristic of every comedy movie that he has been part of in recent times. I just hopes he gets a better supporting case the next time on.

What happens next is as confusing as identifying the parts of a frog that has just been in a blender. It ends with a courtroom drama, the release of the "fake" movie which was shot during the unsuccessful heist and the eventual realization of Atish's dream to win the Oscar! It may sound like a great ending, but the editing is so poor and the flow from one scene to the other so abrupt that before you realize it, you are cringing in your seats like a teenager ready for a dose of rabies shots in your stomach.

At that moment, I felt that we should have left not just our brains at home, but our wallets as well. Now, I'm a huge fan of Govinda and movies that don't want us to use our neurons much, but there has to be a basic requirement set for the quality of jokes in a comedy movie. Story or not, good jokes can make a movie run for months together - that was what David Dhawan specialized in. Farah has probably stayed alongside her yes-men (or women) too long for her to realize that comedy is all about making people you have never met before laugh, and not just the coterie around you. Realization, when it dawns, is a beautiful surprise.

If you were looking to have a good time and discuss the wonderful scenes of the movie long after you watch it - I would not recommend TMK. If you are looking for breaking the walls of your house and want to mentally disorient yourself, then this is a great way to waste your precious time and money. TMK might end up making the money it put into producing it, but it will remain etched in the watchers' memory for all the wrong reasons. I came home and watched RGV's "Aag" to make me forget TMK; hopefully you will find a better alternative!

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Monday, January 15, 2007


Directed by Mani Ratnam

Writing credits:

Anurag Kashyap (dialogue)
Mani Ratnam (story)

Genre: Drama / Romance
Credited cast:
Abhishek Bachchan .... Gurukant Desai
Aishwarya Rai .... Sujatha
Madhavan .... Shyam Saxena
Vidya Balan .... Meenu

Mithun Chakraborty .... Manikdas Gupta

Mallika Sherawat .... Jhumpa


Who does not want to be independent? Who does not want to control one's own destiny? Who does not want to carve a niche for oneself? Everyone does. But there are some who answer the above correctly and dream on and then there are others who go on to make it a reality. Gurukant Desai (Abhishek) is one such person.

Partly driven by his ever-pessimistic dad's incessant taunts, Gurukant, who likes to be called Guru, orients his life's goal to make it big...real big. Driven by a stint during his early years in Turkey, Guru is hell-bent on being an independent businessman in a field that people hesitate to take risks -- yarn trading. In that bargain, he decides to play with lives, others' that is. To raise capital money for his new venture, he decides to get married to his friend's sister Sujatha (played by Aishwarya) and use the dowry gained as part of that. It's a coincidence (in the movie) that the girl turns out to be the same one who he met on his train ride back to his village -- when she was planning to make a run for it with her lover, who in fact had chickened out.

Guru irradiates revolutionary thinking. Cotton being the norm of the day, it would apparently be foolhardy to play with people's choices, but he thinks otherwise and starts to trade in polyester instead -- a great gamble, fetching him returns that make the gamble look minuscule in comparison. His rise is simply meteoric and it's not long before his fame and wealth are rivaling each other to rise higher. It's interesting to see how Mani Ratnam captures the initial hardships that Guru has in getting a foothold in the industry; the very issues that he overcomes using the one thing that seems to be a solution to every impediment: money.

Sujatha learns of her husband's dowry-capital scheme and moves back to the village. Guru's march into the corporate world continues but he yearns for her and the feeling in mutual and they are re-united soon after a song. These few scenes reinforce how Guru considers Sujatha to be his pillar of strength for everything he has achieved so far and everything he seeks to achieve. At this point, Abhishek's performance has just started to show a glimpse of what is to come. It is Aishwarya who has been able to play the perfect foil to Abhi's role. In Ash's own words in a post-movie interview, it is completely Abhi's show...and the rest is yet to come!

Manikdas (Mithun) makes a nice entry as the owner of the daily newspaper and is instrumental to get Guru his first break. Manikdas essays the role of the guru, until he crosses the line of truth himself in his quest for success. Vidya Balan plays Meenu, the girl with multiple sclerosis and Manikdas' grand-daughter, who soon becomes the Guru's pet and she is showered with the same love that Guru would have for his own children.

But when Guru crosses over to the "dark" side, Manikdas along with his able journalist employee Shyam Saxena (played by Madhavan) takes on the might of Guru, his power, fame and the strength of money. What follows then is an interesting tale of how the pen is mightier than the sword, how love conquers physical disabilities and the resolution of one man to not hear "no" for an answer.

If you noticed, most of the above review highlighted the title character and rightly so -- this is Abhiskek's movie as Guru. The choice of characters and their acting have been done very nicely to not take away the crux of the movie. It is one man's fight against himself in the end. It is of great relief that Abhishek has come of age with this movie. One grouse though, that I will have against Mani Ratnam is to always focus the camera too close to the face of the characters, for e.g. seeing the tear drop flow down the face and into the mouth. Imagine seeing this on the big screen. I'm pretty sure there are subtler ways to present the same emotion to the audience. The makeup-less characters are a nice change to the powder-laden faces; Mani Ratnan has always emphasized naturalness in his movies.

Also, please do not go to see this movie just for Mallika Sherawat. She is wasted in one completely unnecessary song and is practically non-existent...and if you have read this far, it just wouldn't matter whether this movie is indeed based on DhiruBhai Ambani's just wouldn't matter.

I would definitely mark this movie as a one-time watch. Don't have too much of expectations on the music (although, Rahman's music always catches on late after the movie releases). Be prepared for some lame last minute lame dialogues but the hospital scenes of Abhishek will bring back nostalgic memories of Amitabh. A son following in the father's footsteps? Only time will tell...

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