Movie Review: Tees Maar Khan (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

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Farah Khan knows how to stage a spectacle. She’s done it for years as Bollywood’s most sought after choreographer, and she did it with her second directorial effort, the vibrant Om Shanti Om (her directorial debut, Main Hoon Na, was comparatively low-key). With Tees Maar Khan, Farah Khan reasserts herself as Bollywood’s queen of bombast.

Tees Maar Khan is an outrageous comedy filled with larger than life characters. As such, there’s only one man to play the lead: Akshay Kumar. Kumar usually plays a charming ham these days, but few of his recent movies have been able to match his natural charisma. Khan is able to take all that is good about Akshay Kumar and let him shine.

“Tees Maar Khan” (TMK) is the alias of the thief Tabrez Mirza Khan (Kumar). He eludes the police with the aid of his three henchmen: Dollar, Soda and Burger. The Johri brothers — a pair of conjoined-twin smugglers (played by identical twins Raghu Ram and Rajiv Laxman) — hire TMK to steal a heavily guarded trainload of antiques.

TMK plans to stop the train by tricking a bunch of villagers into mobbing it, all under the guise of making a movie. To make the ruse believable, he hires a famous actor, Aatish Kapoor (Akshaye Khanna), assuring him that the role is Oscar gold. TMK enlists his girlfriend, Anya (Katrina Kaif), to play the fake movie’s heroine, if only to keep the aspiring actress from naively doffing her clothes for lecherous directors promising Bollywood stardom.

Khan understands exactly what it takes to make a goofy, campy movie. Everything about Tees Maar Khan is loud: the dialog, the music, and especially the costumes. The writing in Tees Maar Khan is consistently funny and is supported by strong performances all around, especially from TMK’s sidekicks and the villainous twins.

Khan likes to work on a big scale. The exciting dance numbers cover large areas and include several costume changes. There are hundreds of extras involved in the village scenes. The scale of the movie is impressive.

But at some point, there’s simply too much of everything. Comedies should err on the side of being too short, and Tees Maar Khan is too long. The opening scene in a police station is a waste of time that delays the introduction of the main character. A dance number involving Salman Khan is fun, but totally unnecessary.

What’s more, the Salman Khan number is such an obvious stunt that it breaks the spell of the movie. Salman’s real-life romance with Kaif is the only reason he’s in the film. Imagine how dated the movie will feel if they ever break up. Given the popularity of Kumar, Kaif and Khanna, it’s not as if Tees Maar Khan needed the additional star power to draw an audience.

My biggest complaint about Khan as a director is her penchant for including celebrity cameos and insider Bollywood references, just because she can. I know that Khan’s biggest audience is in India, but her movies are as visually polished as anything coming out of Hollywood. Why not reach out to a wider audience?

TMK tries to in several ways. The actor Kapoor bemoans turning down a role in “Dumbdog Millionaire.” He’s later tricked into believing that TMK is Manoj Day Ramalan, the younger brother of “Fifth Sense” director Manoj Night Ramalan. It’s funny stuff that avid moviegoers everywhere will get.

But for every universal joke, there are twice as many references to classic Hindi movies or Bollywood gossip that international audiences won’t understand. Even for domestic Indian audiences, I’m not sure if the material is supposed to be funny or if it’s just supposed to elicit a “Hey, I know who she’s talking about!” response. If the latter, the references won’t mean as much ten or twenty years from now. It’s not a good long-term strategy.

I hold Farah Khan to such high standards because I think she’s so talented. If you ask most Americans to name a Bollywood movie, they’ll mention Slumdog Millionaire or Bend It Like Beckham. Both films are actually British productions which borrow elements of Bollywood movies. It’s time for a director working in India to define Bollywood for the Western world, and I think Farah Khan’s the one to do it.


14 thoughts on “Movie Review: Tees Maar Khan (2010)

  1. Salim

    Tees maar khan is a super entertaining movie but some fans of some actors who hate stars of TMK posting bad reviews and stopping people to go and watch the movie and their own judgement. This movie is made for everyone to watch just not for those who didn’t like it. Some may not like it but some may like it as everyone’s taste is not the same and for that one should watch it to decide its good or bad and not just listen or see report as it can be false and you miss the chance to watch a masala entertaining movie in this festive mood.

  2. rakesh

    Bakwas movie…dont waste money on this movie….worst flim of 2010….and stop comparing akki with srk as both are good at what they do…The only good about movie is khanna…

    1. Kathy

      Thanks for the comment, Rakesh. What does “bakwas” mean? And I didn’t mention SRK at all in the review. I’m a fan of both him and Akshay Kumar.

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  4. Shrey

    You’ve got to be kidding me! This movie is very very terrible and more incoherent than a lunatic’s babble. I’m in utter shock after watching the film. Zero-redeeming qualities; absolutely none at all!

    I seriously wish your 3-star rating was on a scale of 10, rather than on a scale of 4! No, wait, 3/30 seems more apt for this film!

  5. Sid

    One of the worst movie I have ever saw, absolutely horrible. It’s mind boggling people are actually paying to watch this because I wouldn’t even download it for free and waste my Hard drive space. The dude needs to take some acting lesson, the director needs to get out of the toilet when she is directing because it seems she was in toilet break when the entire movie was being made. I just cannot believe it’s the same director who made “Main Hoon Na” and “Om Shanti Om”. annoying dialogues annoying item songs, stupid acting, stupid directing and overall a really bad movie.

  6. Kathy

    Sid, I agree that “Tees Maar Khan” doesn’t live up to Farah Khan’s “Om Shanti Om.” But I don’t think it’s one of Akshay Kumar’s worst movies (he’s made so many bad movies recently, after all). That honor goes to “Khatta Meetha.”

  7. Akshat

    “Bakwas” means BS in a bit polite manner,the movie is terrible and at least I think that owing to the trust people have in your reviews, you should not write positive reviews for crap like TMK.And the lame jokes in the movie are so lame and non connecting with the Indian audience that I am sure that international audience will surely feel tortured.

    1. Kathy

      Thanks for defining “bakwas” for me, Akshat. You’re obviously not alone in disliking “Tees Maar Khan,” but I thought it was watchable and funny. Perhaps TMK appeals more to Western audiences than Indian audiences.

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