Details: (M), 127 mins, United Kingdom,
Synopsis: After being deported, Aakaash (Ajay Devgn) enacts his revenge by planting a bomb on a speeding train heading from Glasgow to London. The only man who can stop him is an officer from Counter Terrorism Command, Arjun Khanna (Anil Kapoor).
A misguided take on terrorism in the UK.
Mashing up the key plot points of Hollywood hits Speed and The Taking of Pelham 123 may have seemed like a good idea for a ‘Bolly-buster’, but director Priyadarshan’s Tezz goes right off the rails very early on and never gets back on track.
The veteran filmmaker gambles and loses with the central good-guy/bad-guy set-up by attempting to make train-bomber Aakaash (Ajay Dvegn) the film’s sympathetic character whilst painting old-timer cop Arjun (Anil Kapoor) as uncompassionate and dangerously driven to catch his man. It is inconceivable that the intent of writers Robin Bhatt and Aditya Dahr was to have audience allegiance lie with a terrorist capable of mass murder, but that is how Tezz unfolds.
The viewer is asked to swallow that Aakaash has set in motion his diabolical plan in retaliation for being deported for breaching his visa conditions. That hardly seems like sufficient motivation to kill dozens of innocent commuters, all trapped inside the worst CGI locomotive ever put to film as it hurtles through crudely paint-boxed countryside.
It’s also patently ludicrous to have vast subplots involving Aakassh’s private life unfold as he oversees his train-bomb agenda. Tangential soap operatics, like the discovery of a son he never knew he had and flashbacks painting a UK immigration hearing as some sort of table-and-chair kangaroo court (which draws unmistakeable parallels with the Empire’s heavy-handed rule-of-law that defined it's colonial days as India’s occupier) further undermine the grandly melodramatic proceedings.
Filmed entirely in the UK, the cinematography of S. Tirru gives the film an overexposed garishness that does none of the actors any favours. The production certainly got its money’s worth in terms of coverage; one pre-intermission bike/car chase begins in the lush green farming country and ends in the middle of London. (That it ends at all is a miracle given the buffoonish response of Britain’s finest.) The UK setting also allows for some of Blighty’s stock players to chew the scenery in lead roles (Philip Martin Brown as ‘Inspector Alan’ is the worst offender but by no means is he alone), yet all the key characters are Indian and drop into Hindi dialect at often inappropriate moments.
Priyadarshan foregoes a convincing narrative, preferring to manufacture tension by having actors constantly yell at each other. One face-off between Arjun and the railway’s chief-of-operations, played by Boman Irani, is an unintentionally hilarious lesson in Angry Acting 101. Support characters are one of two kinds: underlings who stick their heads into rooms and shout lines like “It’s the bomber, on line one!”, or panicky train passengers that wail “We’re all going to die!”. Actresses Kangana Ranaut and Sameera Reddy are especially hard done by in painfully one-note roles, a result of the film being far more concerned with the machismo of its ageing leads.
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