Directed by: Farah Khan
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Akshaye Khanna
All pictures courtesy of: http://www.teesmaarkhan-thefilm.com/press.html
I am sure when the Seven Deadly Sins were being short-listed, Hype was a strong contender that fell victim to its own…er, hype. I’ve always felt hype is a dangerous thing to try and pay off to do one’s bidding – much like Lady Luck, Hype is a more positive attribute when it chooses you and works its magic accordingly. Of course, none of this applies to a Farah Khan film, where hype is baked right into the finished product so that if Farah Khan films were cakes, the anticipation of eating the cake would always outweigh the actual consumption.
To be fair, 2010 has seen the masala film return to the top with a vengeance and it seems audiences have grown tired of middle of the road fare and are taking things back to basics. With this in mind, I was looking forward to Tees Maar Khan, so at a late afternoon screening in relatively full cinema, I switched my brain to power saving mode and settled back for a dose of masala cinema…
TMK is pure entertainment and makes no pretence at being anything else. In the first half, though I laughed out loud, I found myself disconnected from the film. In the second half, I realised why – I was looking for a subtext and perhaps expecting a darker storyline beneath and quite simply, I was not going to find it here. Once I had gotten over my reviewer’s complex, I finally engaged with TMK and enjoyed it. The story is very straightforward and embellished with some wonderful dialogue, multi-layered jokes and a crazy pace that could easily spin out of control but a firm rein is kept on proceedings. The weakest links are when the pace pauses slightly (for instance, when Khan, Dollar, Soda and Burger try to figure out their plan – I think we could have just seen them convincing Atish Kapoor in the pre-interval scene to do the film) and the moral angle that is introduced which is meant to be parody but felt contrived.
Technically, the film is fantastic, with a seedy opening sequence featuring Eastern European girls pole dancing with a digital baby, lots of clever camera work reminiscent of 70’s and 80’s cinema and brisk editing. I really love the way Farah Khan always makes sure all of the crew get screen time at the end credits (which she has done in all her previous films too as well as cameos – Salman, Anil in the flesh and Sanjay Dutt’s voice all can be found here) and I think her directorial abilities are getting more pronounced with each film. Her obsession with 80’s cinema is evident and the determination to make sure the audience join in the fun relentless. My favourite songs were Wallah Re and of course Sheela Ki Jawani which was fun and played tribute to many an item number (namely Ek Do Teen from Tezaab and Jhumma Chumma from Hum though a comparison is inevitable to Munni Badnaam from Dabaang which for me, was the stronger song) and gets things going nicely.
Styling wise, TMK mixes up gloss and nostalgia to create rather wearable trends for the copycat brigade. I liked Akshay’s floral prints mixed with plaids and with an added hood to make it casual as well as all the accessories (arm bands, chains though I didn’t like the pierced eyebrow). I loved his equestrian look in the second half with baggy low crotch trousers tucked into riding boots teamed with shirts and waistcoats. Also, Burberry (along with many other products) gets a healthy plug here and I am looking forward to seeing more Burberry in Bollywood! With Katrina, first off, I have to comment on her figure which is simply mind blowing, giving Deepika Padukone a run for her money as the new “body” and making us all feel guilty for eating too many mince pies (or maybe just me!). In the Sheela song, I loved her in the gold harem pants (trend alert – Anushka Sharma wore similar in Band Baaja Baaraat), the Madhuri Dixit Tezaab inspired ensemble of pink choli and black cropped harem pants. However, it was in the ethnic wear that Kat really rocked it – she looks stunning in the plain peach suit and red/orange sharara suit in the Wallah song as well as the pink sari in the Bade Dilwala song. Finally, she wows in the sequin gold dress at the premiere at the end and looks a million rupees/dollars/pounds, every inch the showgirl (and Veet girl which provided much unintentional hilarity and is even lampooned at the end in the credits).
In terms of performances, Akshay Kumar was bearable and back to doing what he does best – entertaining. His comic timing is very good, and he gives an energetic performance that drives the film forward. I thought his verging on camp director turn was funny and he has a good chemistry with all of the cast. However, whilst this performance is suitable for TMK, I am still waiting for Akshay to try something different and take a risk – it is quite telling that Housefull and now TMK are the two films in 2010 have seen his performance being appreciated which shows a need to experiment more and prove that he can garner both commercial and critical acclaim. Akshaye Khanna is suitably hammy in his role and this works perfectly for one of his better performances in recent times – his energy and enthusiasm cannot be doubted and he does sometimes steal the show without intending to.
Katrina pulls off an Elizabeth Hurley in Austin Powers with an intentional wooden performance that offers no acting scope but plenty of glamour and comic timing opportunities which Kat makes the most of. She clearly has worked hard on her dancing and it pays off, especially in the Sheela number. Her Hindi has also improved and whilst this is not a patch on her Raajneeti performance earlier in the year, in the commercial side of things, Brand Katrina pushes up another notch on the marketability scale. Like Akshay Kumar, TMK does her no harm but it would be nice to see her experiment with something different as we know Kat can do this kind of role and would do well to move past it before it becomes too repetitive. Out of the supporting cast, I felt everyone did well and there were no real weak links.
TMK reminded me of going to a restaurant and eating a favourite dish that has too much of one ingredient but it is an flavour that one enjoys (in case you wondered, I was hungry whilst watching this film which may account for all my food metaphors!) and allows one to forgive the imperfections. The audience I saw the film with certainly enjoyed TMK and like Dabaang, I recommend a rowdy crowd to watch this with for maximum enjoyment. Like Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om, this is a film that you have to accept cinematic liberties wholeheartedly and try not to analyze, leave alone over analyze!
Having said that, TMK did remind me of the masala blockbusters I grew up watching and quite simply, nothing beats a dance down memory lane. Yes, TMK has been hyped to the high heavens but it could have been a massive let down – fortunately, we get a complete entertainer which has something for everyone and even the most hardened cynic will have to crack a smile at the absence of political correctness.TMK finishes off the year with lashings of old school Hindi film goodness and an energetic hip thrust – paisa vasool! (Or as the erratic subtitles would interpret it – more bang for your buck!)