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Writer-director Leena Yadav claims that her film, Teen Patti, is not based on the movie 21. After watching Teen Patti, I don’t believe her.
21 is a 2008 Hollywood film about some MIT students who get rich counting cards in the game of blackjack. Teen Patti is about some students from “BIT” who get rich counting cards in the game of teen patti. Ms. Yadav’s lame anti-plagiarism defense: “My film has nothing to do with blackjack.”
In a failed attempt to avoid the comparison, Yadav shifts the focus of her film from the students to their professor, Venkat (Amitabh Bachchan). Venkat develops a mathematical formula for deducing which hand will win in a given game of teen patti, a card game similar to poker. He recruits his colleague, Shantanu (R. Madhavan), and three randomly selected students to help him test his formula under real-world conditions.
The experiment proceeds with Venkat sitting at a table in a seedy gambling hall while Shantanu and the students make obvious hand signals to indicate what cards they hold. Venkat stares at each of the other players at the table while mumbling to himself, and then makes an equally obvious gesture to indicate which player at the table holds the winning hand. Then Shantanu and the students nod to confirm that they understood Venkat’s gesture, just in case it wasn’t apparent to everyone else in the gambling den that they are up to something fishy.
I’m not going to bother naming the students because they aren’t fully developed characters, nor are they even necessary to the Venkat’s experiment. The primary reason that they’re in the movie is so that a mysterious blackmailer can threaten them, forcing Venkat to keep gambling when he’d rather stop.
The other reason for the students’ presence in the script is for them to illustrate the moral danger of gambling, which can lead to flirting, minor theft and fist fights. No drugs, booze or sex, apart from an implied gang rape (another shockingly casual reference to sexual violence against women in a Hindi movie, as in Wanted and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani). The stakes are pretty low in Teen Patti.
In addition to the superfluous students, minor characters show up without introduction and disappear abruptly. A woman named Mrs. Kale brings Venkat breakfast and complains about his messy office before leaving, never to appear again. Who is she?!
The prize for most useless character in Teen Patti goes to Perci Tractenberg, played by Sir Ben Kingsley for no other reason than to promote it as a Ben Kingsley movie. His presence would’ve been more impressive had Uwe Boll not already stunt-cast Kingsley as a villain in Bloodrayne.
*Teen Patti‘s runtime is 2 hrs. 20 min.