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

April 25, 2008

Style over substance

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 4:04 pm

April 25, 2008

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Anil Kapoor

Director: Vijay Krishna Acharya

The sight of Kareena Kapoor in a two-piece bikini is about the only thing that wakes you up from your sleep while watching Tashan — the mega-disappointing, mind-numbing new film at the cinemas this weekend.

Bad films are bad films and we see some every week, but Tashan is not just a bad film, it’s a terrible film. Terrible because it takes its audience for granted, terrible also because the filmmakers expect to get away without a plot or any common sense only because they’ve got big movie stars onboard.

Written and directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya, Tashan is what you’d describe as a road movie, but one that’s going in all the wrong directions.

Saif Ali Khan stars as Jimmy Cliff, a call-centre executive who’s hired to teach English to Bhaiyyaji – that’s Anil Kapoor playing an ambitious UP gangster, desperate to go cool.

Jimmy’s got his eye on Pooja, the gangster’s pretty young assistant (played by Kareena Kapoor), who uses Jimmy to swindle her boss of 25 crore rupees.

Determined to recover his money and also to punish both Jimmy and Pooja, Bhaiyyaji recruits his most trusted henchman to do the job.

So you have Akshay Kumar as Bachchan Pandey, the gangster’s faithful aide from Kanpur, who tracks down the culprits and recovers the stolen money that’s hidden across the length and breadth of the country.

Much like those bad eighties potboilers, Tashan too is held together by a threadbare script centred on a vendetta plot. But the treatment’s so over-the-top, so indulgent that it fails to establish any connect.

Instead of a coherent screenplay or a traditional three-act structure, you get a handful of set pieces around which most of the scenes are loosely constructed.

That garish item song in the desert, the bullet-dodging action scene at a Rajasthani fort, Kareeena’s bikini moment, even that ridiculous climatic action scene complete with shaolin monks, a water scooter zipping through a dirty naala, and believe it or not, even a Dhanno-style horse-driven tonga.

In all fairness, not all these set pieces are badly done – the item song in the desert is quite neat actually – but very little of it makes any sense in the larger picture, because you’re just going from one piece to another without any help from the script really.

Little do you expect in a seemingly fast-paced road movie, to find a sickeningly sentimental flashback track about childhood sweethearts.

You see the problem with Tashan is nobody associated with this film knew what film they were making. What’s more, I don’t think they cared either – the film reeks of arrogance.

Arbitrarily packing in elements of every genre without actually bothering to stop and see if the mix does work, Tashan is like an overcooked stew.

There are films that kill you softly, and then there’s Tashan, a film that kills you with excess.

Packaged snazzily with glossy-finish camerawork, exotic locations and fancy costumes, every frame of the film probably cost lakhs to put together, but it still feels like a hollow piece in the end because the story doesn’t hold.

Borrowing narrative from Tarantino and style from Stephen Chow doesn’t help either because they don’t blend with the film’s wafer-thin plot. One may have complained a little less if the characters were more engaging, but Anil Kapoor’s grating Hinglish dialogue makes you want to slit your wrists, and Saif Ali Khan fumbles through the film foolishly, unable to find his feet.

Kareena Kapoor, meanwhile, queen of over-the-top delivery, does a decent job. But of course, if Tashanis salvaged to some extent, it’s thanks to Akshay Kumar’s irresistible presence and his spontaneous approach to the character.

You cringe when he’s cupping his crotch repeatedly, and you scowl when he delivers those double-meaning dialogues, but not for a moment can you take your eyes off the screen when he’s up there.

Despite some good music from Vishal-Shekhar, the songs seem like they’re only prolonging your misery. Well that’s because Tashan is a test of your patience.

I’m going to go with one out of five and a thumbs down for director Vijay Krishna Acharya’s Tashan.

In case you didn’t know, Tashan means style. I’m sorry to say, this film has none.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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