Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

January 4, 2013

Climax in search of a film!

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:37 pm

January 04, 2013

Cast: Paresh Rawal, Rajeev Khandelwal, Tina Desae, Hanif Hilal

Director: Aditya Datt

It’s unlikely you’ll come out unmoved by the big reveal at the end of Table No 21, whose deeply disturbing finale delivers a hard punch to the gut. But the problem is, while director Aditya Datt and his writers may have cracked a sure-shot climax, they invest very little in the rest of this sloppy thriller.

Rajeev Khandelwal and Tina Desae star as middle-class married couple Vivaan and Sia, who’ve won a weeklong holiday to Fiji in a lucky draw. Paresh Rawal, playing the owner of a live gaming website, seduces the pair into participating in a simple-sounding game in exchange for big prize money. The couple must honestly answer eight yes-or-no-type questions about their life, and perform one task per question to take home Rs 21 crores. But when the questions become increasingly uncomfortable and the tasks life threatening, it becomes clear that there’s more to this game than meets the eye.

Despite starting out curiously enough, the film loses steam early on because of the uninspired writing. The screenplay fails to pack in that edge-of-the-seat tension required for a supposedly urgent thriller of this nature. So even as the couple must confront their fears, reconcile with their past, and question their own love for each other, Datt never really raises the stakes in a way that makes you feel any fear for them. Some bits in fact, are positively comical, although unintentionally so…like that scene in which an important character is humiliated by having her hair completely shaved. The resulting scene, in which she sports an obviously fake spotless egg-shaped head, will leave you in splits.

Table No 21 squanders its potential. The film’s ending is bold, but little else is consistent or gripping. It’s also unforgivably lazy and amateurish in its approach to characterization and narrative. We’re introduced to likeable protagonists at the start of the film, we’re meant to care for them as they struggle in difficult circumstances, then abruptly and without any warning they’re stripped off their likeability so the film can deliver its shocking climax.

I’m going with two out of five for director Aditya Datt’s Table No 21. Even dependable actors like Paresh Rawal and Rajeev Khandelwal sleepwalk through their roles.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. I don’t agree to your review. Dabang 2 did not deserve a 2n half stars, but thus movie did. Loved every minute of the movie.

    Comment by Rajesh Gehani — January 5, 2013 @ 2:34 am

  2. I love reading your reviews, but this time a certain thing really bothered me.
    ” then abruptly and without any warning they’re stripped off their likeability so the film can deliver its shocking climax.”

    Well thanks to that, the shock value of the Climax certainly decreased! Please try to divulge as less as possible about the plot! Apart from that I always enjoy your opinions of movies even if I at times don’t agree with them, its always interesting to see your take and you put up a great show! Just please head to that one sincere request!

    Comment by Avneesh — January 5, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

  3. i completely agree with u rajesh…

    Comment by Salil — January 5, 2013 @ 3:42 pm

  4. you were generous giving 2 stars; there is nothing to movie except the climax, which would get may be one and half stars.

    Comment by Aditya parankusam — January 5, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

  5. I am a big fan of your reviews…..but u r very strict sir….

    Comment by DAVID LAGACHU — January 5, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

  6. Do you hate Paresh Rawal, Rajeev? Coz Oh my God was good and you rated it low and now this one.You gave a pathetic movie like Khiladi 786 two stars. I mean REEAAALLY ?

    Comment by Alfred — January 6, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

  7. I beg to differ Mr Masand! The climax is why I will remember the movie (Table # 21)…It has a nice message and something that one could have never expected going by the plot but i so regret reading this review of yours before watching the movie because it deprived me of the shock that i would have experienced had I watched it w/o any reviews.

    The reason I follow your reviews is because unlike other critics you don’t care for the star value and give ratings purely on the basis of quality of the film but 2.5 stars to Dabangg 2??? Really?? It was like reshooting some portions of Dabangg with Prakash Raj…. thats it…..Even the climax was so disappointing…Dabangg 2 promised to be bigger and better than Dabangg…but it wasn’t to be……!!!

    And now only 2 stars for Table # 21….You have got it wrong for the second time in a fortnight….I really hope that you show strictness only when its reqd and not for the heck of it

    Comment by Rahul — January 6, 2013 @ 8:16 pm

  8. Totally disagree with this review. This is one of the best thrillers I’ve watched, with a riveting storyline and a great message. I think it’s best to watch movies without reading the reviews these days!

    Comment by Rohan — January 7, 2013 @ 1:53 am

  9. I enjoyed the movie. i guess it should have got one more star.. after getting movies like dabang 2, khiladi and others of simmiler kinds… i never got bored even for a second…there were not songs here and there as well…. please be more appreciative of ppl trying to atleast make a good original movie rather than making stupid nonsense….

    Comment by devina awasthi — January 7, 2013 @ 11:06 am

  10. I love yyour reviews but ya… this time i disagree a bit
    The movie needed little more than 2 stars specially when dabbang 2 can get 2 and a half and also… revealing the climax in your review is bad for viewers

    Comment by Jay — January 10, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

  11. movie sahi lagi mujhe to … 3/5 from me …

    Comment by Aman — January 14, 2013 @ 1:26 am

  12. Unfair review from Rajeev Masand. He has gone underboard .At least it is not a usual sloppy luv story. A good attempt has been made to give a strong message .deserves at least three stars

    Comment by Dinesh — January 14, 2013 @ 10:47 pm

  13. After a long time I am completely in sync with your review.
    The movie started promisingly but tapered off by the middle and was finally saved by a “Seminal” climax compared to normal Hindi Movies.I cannot describe much without revealing the plot, but yes the middle part story writing was sloppy and plain lazy.I still believe Rajeev Khandelwal could have acted much better and Paresh Rawal had his commercial mask on which was not needed.Still I recommend this movie only due to its fantastic climax!

    Comment by Sam — January 15, 2013 @ 1:22 am

  14. 3.5/5

    Comment by Samy — January 16, 2013 @ 2:28 pm


    Comment by Kamal Sidhu — January 18, 2013 @ 10:31 am

  16. What’s wrong…I am shocked…It should be given atleast 3.5 if not 4…It’s a must watch movie…One of the best thrillers I have watched in recent times other than Kahaani with such a strong social message. Kudos to the entire team of Table No. 21…

    Comment by Priyanka Paul — January 18, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

  17. completely disagree with rajeev this movie should atleast 3/5 Must watch one of the best i saw.. goot start of 2013

    Comment by Shreya — January 19, 2013 @ 9:36 pm

  18. I don’t agree with you on this one cause however the film may have dragged on about but when a student is damaged so literally it was only logical of his father to “have not killed” the perpetrator but to make them suffer what his son/daughter must have. And yes this movie did not have the best script or the best suspense but the message delivered was quite good and the work done by the director and the cast was pretty good. Deserved a better opinion from you. Seriously!!

    Comment by Shantanu Bose — January 28, 2013 @ 1:20 am

  19. I agree with u rajeev that this movie had a promising start and a stunning climax but in between that it drags a lot and gets predictable and doesn’t create any kind of interest in protagonists.This movie could have been better if the writers would have invested more brain and time…i would say good try and the climax would definitely make you move.

    Comment by Ishan — February 1, 2013 @ 6:16 am

  20. a really crap review for a nice movie…..

    Comment by vishy — February 5, 2013 @ 1:26 am

  21. I somehow cannot digest your review. This movie is engaging, rightly with a proper timing takes a turn towards the climax and thus delivers a fine piece of end. Mr Masand what exactly are you expecting a movie to be like? Not all Laptops are apple and all mobiles are iPhone, but still they create a mark. Few movies just cant be forgotten and T. 21 is one such movie. No, I’m not getting carried away by the climax!

    Comment by juned — February 16, 2013 @ 12:12 am

  22. Definately an at least one time watch movie with a strong social message in its climax regarding ragging that we have seen probably for the first time in bollywood,acting wise paresh rawal and rajeev khandelwal are at their best,the editing is crisp and the locations are beautiful,at least deserved 3.5 stars,much better than overrated movies such as talaash,dabangg 2,etc.

    Comment by pranav — February 19, 2013 @ 1:38 am

  23. I somewhat agree with Rajeev on this review. I liked the film especially the ending. But I almost lost interest as the film progressed. I felt the actors were a little too artificial / wooden for most part of the film. The climax was good and the message was fantastic. But we’ve got to judge the entire film, not just the last 20 minutes.

    Not sure whether Rajeev felt this was a weakness, but I felt it was one of the strong points of the film: “We’re introduced to likeable protagonists at the start of the film, we’re meant to care for them as they struggle in difficult circumstances, then abruptly and without any warning they’re stripped off their likeability so the film can deliver its shocking climax.”

    Comment by Prashanth — March 5, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

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