Tag Archives: Sameera Reddy

Movie Review: Tezz (2012)

1.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Watch Tezz without paying full attention, and it probably seems like an entertaining film. But the moment one starts trying to make sense of the plot, Tezz reveals itself as a total mess.

This is unfortunate, because Tezz has many elements of a good movie. Most of the action scenes are really well done. There are some solid performances by veteran actors, especially Boman Irani. But those elements need to be woven together by a solid plot and told in a cinematic way, and in Tezz they just aren’t.

In fact, the more of the plot that is revealed, the less necessary the film seems, especially when the events all stem from the inappropriate and dangerous response of a single man to an easily surmountable problem.

Tezz starts with a flashback to Aakash (Ajay Devgn) — an illegal immigrant — being deported from England to India and separated from his British-Indian wife, Nikita (Kangna Ranaut). In a scuffle with the police, Nikita is hit on the head. She lies on the ground as Aakash is dragged away.

Fast forward four years, and Aakash is back in the U.K. He and two accomplices — Aadil (Zayed Khan) and Megha (Sameera Reddy) — purchase explosives and plant a detonator on a passenger train bound from London to Glasgow. Aakash calls the rail company and demands 10 million Euros from rail director Sanjay (Boman Irani). Aakash explains that  a bomb on the train will detonate if the train’s speed drops below 60 mph.

Yep. Tezz is Speed on a train. (My suggestion for a snappier title: Speed 3: Off the Rails.)

Surely Aakash has a good reason to concoct this deadly plan, right? To avenge the death of his wife at the hands of the British immigration police perhaps? [Warning: spoilers ahead.]

Nope. Nikita is very much alive, and Aakash knows it. As he’s being dragged through the airport, she even tells him she’s pregnant.

For four years, Aakash lives apart from his wife and child, scheming to extort money and “get his life back.” Why didn’t he just ask her to move to India with him? He’s an engineer, so it’s not like he can’t get a good job in India or elsewhere. Even if his extortion scheme works, they won’t be able to live in the U.K.

So, without Aakash’s ill-conceived (if not completely nonsensical) overreaction, there is no movie. That’s probably reason enough to skip Tezz. But if you need more, there are other compelling reasons.

The film lacks transitions between scenes. Once scene ends abruptly and another starts immediately without any notion of how we got from point A to point B.

Anil Kapoor’s character — recently retired Inspector Khanna — suffers the most from this lack of transitions. He’s in the train control center; then he’s at a crime scene; then he’s in a government hearing, all without any regard for how he could possibly cover that much ground in such a short time.

Another problem is the bad CGI effects that animate the train. Devgn said recently that it’s not fair to compare Indian special effects to those made on a Hollywood budget, but most of the action scenes in Tezz are quite good. Money was budgeted for lavish car chases and an actual helicopter, but the filmmakers cheaped out on the speeding train: the one element that needed to look believable.

Need another reason to skip Tezz? How about a racist dance number?

Early in the movie, Aakash’s and Aadil’s escape from the police is interrupted by a dance number (without a transition between scenes, of course). The song “Laila” starts with Mallika Sherawat surrounded by dozens of dancers dressed as Dracula. The Indian dancers eventually change into blackface makeup and afro wigs.

The filmmakers* should be ashamed for including something so pointlessly racist in Tezz. Then again, director Priyadarshan made Khatta Meetha — the most deplorable and sexist film I’ve ever seen — so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

* – According to reports at The Times of India, Priyadarshan didn’t want the item number “Laila” included in the movie on the grounds that it didn’t fit the story (which is true). He was apparently overruled by producer Ratan Jain, though the song may have been removed from some prints lest audiences find it too sexy. I found no mention of concerns about racism in any of the reports.

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Movie Review: De Dana Dan (2009)

0.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Rather than a cohesive movie, De Dana Dan is a muddle of sideplots with no connecting thread. As a result, the talents of Bollywood’s comedy all-stars are squandered in an unsatisfying waste of two hours and forty-five minutes.

De Dana Dan gets off to a bad start for those of us who don’t understand Hindi, as Akshay Kumar’s opening narration isn’t subtitled in English. What I was able to work out is that Kumar’s character, Nitin, works as an a kind of indentured servant for the overbearing Kuljeet (Archana Puran Singh). Nitin’s buddy, Ram (Sunil Shetty), is likewise paying off debts by working as a delivery man.

Nitin’s girlfriend, Anjali (Katrina Kaif), and Ram’s girlfriend, Manpreet (Sameera Reddy), are sick of waiting for their guys to raise enough cash to marry them. So Nitin and Ram concoct a scheme to kidnap Kuljeet’s beloved dog and demand a ransom for his return. Of course, things don’t go as planned.

Meanwhile, a conman named Chadda (Paresh Rawal) tries to arrange a marriage between his son, Nonny (played by Chunky Pandey, who’s only 12 years younger than Rawal), and Anjali. Chadda plans to use her dowry money to pay off his debts. When Anjali lies to Nonny that she’s pregnant with someone else’s child, the conmen target Manpreet and her family instead.

The rest of the movie contains seemingly infinite cases of mistaken identity among the innumerable characters, some of whom — like Neha Dhupia’s dancer/thief — exist only to add to the confusion, not to further the plot. Granted, what passes for plot in De Dana Dan is little more than characters running, shouting, hiding from each other and falling on each other in compromising positions.

De Dana Dan is convoluted and irritating, rather than complex and interesting, and the final product is boring and empty. The romances between the penniless guys and their wealthy girlfriends feel hollow, since both couples are prepared to break up if the dog-napping scheme fails.

Paresh Rawal does his best as the movie’s lead actor (despite Kumar’s and Kaif’s prominence on the movie posters), but there’s ultimately no one to root for in this film.

The movie also contributes to a distressing trend I’ve written about before: the seeming acceptability of violence against women in Hindi cinema. Early in De Dana Dan, Anjali’s father slaps her hard enough to knock her over. Then he slaps her mother and threatens to break their legs if they defy him.

As the movie progresses, Anjali’s father assumes a supposedly comic role, accidentally groping a woman and chasing after the wrong guy. But how can the audience think him funny when he’s been established as an abusive husband and father?

I accept that physical punishment within families could be viewed differently in India than it is in The United States (although spanking your toddler and slapping your adult daughter’s face are on opposite ends of the corporal punishment spectrum). But I can’t imagine that abuse is so widely accepted that it’s considered funny.

Opening November 25: De Dana Dan

One new Hindi movie hits Chicago area theaters in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. De Dana Dan stars Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty as a pair of loafers who concoct a get-rich-quick scheme to appease their girlfriends, played by Katrina Kaif and Sameera Reddy. Earlier this year, a reporter for Slate wrote about working as an extra for a day on the set of De Dana Dan.

De Dana Dan opens on Wednesday, November 25 at the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville and Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles. The movie’s runtime is listed as 2 hrs. 40 min.

Kurbaan, which earned $403,678 in U.S. theaters its opening weekend, sticks around through next week at the Golf Glen 5, Cantera 30 and South Barrington 30, which is also carrying over Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area include the English language film Rockin’ Meera, opening on Thursday, November 26 at the Golf Glen 5. Also opening on Thursday is the Telugu movie Arya 2 at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.