Tees Maar Khan: A Review

Tees Maar Khan – Dir: Farah Khan; *ing: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Akshaye Khanna

When you have an outrageous, bombastic Bollywood masala movie full of unlikely, larger-than-life characters at hand, with the man at the centre of it the largest of them all, there is really only one actor you can think of to play the pivotal role: Shahrukh Khan.

Unfortunately, in Tees Maar Khan, it is played by Akshay Kumar.

There are at least three violent figures of speech  – all involving some sort of sharp, cutting implement in action – that can be employed regarding director Farah Khan’s foolhardy decision to forego casting close friend/ two-time-two-massive-hits leading man/lucky mascot/ all-round Bollywood king Shahrukh Khan in her latest venture: a) to take an axe to one’s own foot, b) to saw off the bough one is sitting on, c) to cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face. Whatever the mundane reasons behind their falling out and the resulting SRK-less TMK, one thing’s for sure: the Khan must be experiencing one heck of a sensation of schadenfreude, and not just because the movie has laid a big, fat, malodorous egg at the box-office but also because, as it turns out, it was a lucky escape for him since TMK is also a big, fat pile of something else that is malodorous.

Unlike filmmaker Khan’s last flick, the stupendous Om Shanti Om, TMK is not a pastiche of old Bollywood conventions reduxed, but a no-frills ‘remake’ of the 60s Peter Sellers starrer After The Fox, a farce about a master criminal who pretends to be a filmmaker and under the guise of shooting a film, enlists an entire village in a grand heist. In this case it is Tabrez ‘Tees Maar’ Khan (Kumar) who, for the sake of an idiotic plot contrivance, dupes the poor residents of Dhuliya village into helping him rob a train while pretending to shoot a film with superstar Aatish Kapur (Khanna) and flaky ladylove Anya (Kaif). And that’s pretty much it, and quite close to the original. However, considering that After the Fox was one of Sellers’ creakiest vehicles, and Kumar ain’t even one-millionth the comic actor that he was, well, one has to wonder what possessed Khan (and hubby/writer Shirish Kunder) to a) adapt the film in the first place, and b) cast the tonally and comically challenged actor in the lead. For this is a film that relies almost entirely on the charisma and performance of its leading man, and Kumar falls woefully short, completely upstaged and outperformed by Akshaye Khanna as the snivelling, narcissistic Oscar-hungry Kapur – Khan should’ve actually cast him in the title role, so good is he. But even otherwise, TMK is a step backward for the filmmaker; it has neither the brash, freshman appeal of Main Hoon Naa, nor the sharp, savvy, sophisticated originality of OSO. Instead, there are tired jokes seemingly recycled from both her previous films, surprisingly inept editing, and boring cinematography. Sure, some people will be more than happy to just stick ‘Sheila ki jawani’ on repeat on their DVD players till kingdom come, but, contrary to what the unshaven, slobbering masses might indicate, a great item number does not a great movie make.

Ms. Khan, put your old movie collection away and get Mr. Khan back on your speed dial, pronto!

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