1.5 Stars (out of 4)
Buy the DVD at Amazon
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.