When Priyadarshan’s Aakrosh came out in theatres, I was damn impressed with his execution of the almost watertight script – and the length didn’t even matter. It was another story altogether that I had decided voluntarily not to review the film at all, because my euphoria was dampened by the immediate discovery of the film being a brazen rip-off Mississippi Burning – and in fact, after watching the film, my spirits dampened even more. Now, almost two years later, when his Tezz was about to release and all its promos were out there, I had almost predicted the film to have a strange connection with The Taking of Pelham One Two Three – and I’m not talking the Tony Scott remake, I’m talking the original 70s thriller book and its immediate movie adaptation – along with some other weird revenge elements to make a concoction that seems to be one people are going to be wary enough to taste. But leaving the box-office predictions aside, I decided to take the risk and taste the concoction.
When a person returns four years later after being wronged, you know it’s revenge. Aakash Rana (Ajay Devgn) returns to London after being deported, and teams up with his ex-employees Aadil and Megha (Zayed Khan and Sameera Reddy respectively) to plan something big. Of course, there’s the mix of Aakash’s important flashback with his wife (Kangna Ranaut) and some other stuff thrown into the mix. So back to the story – Aakash plans something big – a bomb blast in a train headed for Glasgow. So the train operator has his daughter in the train, a policeman (Mohanlal) has a fugitive he’s transporting over the train, and there’s also five hundred other passengers in the train too! With time being the only option, will retired officer Arjun Khanna (Anil Kapoor) be able to succeed in his last job and provide justice? Or is his idea of justice too narrow and one-sided?
For a movie like Tezz, which obviously has a lot of mixed pre-release reactions, it was obvious that the movie had to have something different as its USP than just being an action thriller with the chops on par with Hollywood. And if that was the only factor to have made any film a success, Blue should have been a blockbuster, breaking all the records of 2009. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with Tezz, as it rests on yet another borrowed concept (The Taking of Pelham One Two Three), mixed with your average Bollywood drama that really doesn’t matter or make us connect to the character at all for that matter. What actually changes the pace altogether is obviously Robin Bhatt’s feverishly paced screenplay, with some really well penned dialogues that make each and every scene and conversation one to watch out for. Obviously there are roadblocks like the item song “Laila” (are you kidding me?) and some odd flashbacks which weren’t needed, but more about that later.
Priyadarshan proves yet again that he has a strong hold over his medium, and even though his movies have not had that impact of late, it’s evident he knows what he’s doing, as in almost each and every scene, he adds some power and impact. Like there are some nuances that he’s improved, and there’s a lot of other stuff that looks like the story’s heading for convenience at first, but once you reach the subplot’s culmination, you know that the director had handled the “fake scare” scene really well. Adding to the fact that the audience is left with no time to either breathe or think, he’s got half his job done.
Interestingly enough, the movie shines of technical brilliance througout. Let’s start with Tirru S’ cinematography. Right from the first shot to the well shot action sequences in collaboration with the camera operators, the guy has done really well, and it’s evident no compromises have been made as regards the action sequences, be it Reddy’s bike chase, or Ajay Devgn’s fight with Anil Kapoor in the sewer (brilliant framing yet again, combined with some amazing slo-mo in the post-production stages), or even the climactic Bourne-esque fight between the two, everyone stand gripped.
Performances have complemented his direction really well. Ajay Devgn is a fine performer, and I’ve told this to a lot of people, time and again, that even though his expressions might not have a lot of variety, he has a certain unique versatility about him. Here he does nothing new, as he’s been part of a lot of revenge dramas before this – and way early in his career – but here he continues to lend his own touch and make Aakash Rana different. Anil Kapoor is super-efficient and handles his role with a certain dignity, without letting anything go over the top. Plus, it’s nice to notice him team up with Priyadarshan for yet another no-nonsense film after Viraasat. Boman Irani is mind-blowing. The way he handles his character arc, what with all his passive aggression and fear, needs to be lauded, and though he’s noticed a lot in his over-the-top antics in his comedies, I guess I’ll continue to like him in the roles he gives a different spin to, and this is one of them. Zayed Khan is great. Sameera Reddy is underrated. It’s a shame she’s not getting better roles in cinema with the kind of scope and potential she has. She can pull off a bike stunt as well as she can pull off a happy scene. Kangna Ranaut has a short role, which would largely go unnoticed and make people wonder why she was promoted so much in the movie, but her face-off with Anil Kapoor in the movie’s culmination will make the audience sit up and notice. Mohanlal is unfortunately underutilized, but the scenes he appears in are amazing.
Now to what didn’t work – and this is really important, because Tezz otherwise had potential to be much more than what it’s turned out to be. While Bhatt’s screenplay is terrific and doesn’t let the viewers catch a break, the story on the flipside is a weird concoction of The Taking of Pelham one Two Three (1974), Speed, the Die Hard franchise, some other train movies made in the rest of the world, and Bollywood revenge.
Also, while most of the scenes hold a lot of meat and the dialogues are firebrand, there’s some scenes which are terribly tacky and dated what you wonder why was it even needed. Avika Gor’s track was just there for the sake of being there, and despite the fact that you see a lot of potential in where it can go, she just disappears midway into the film. The same goes for Mohanlal, who has nothing to do in practically three-fourths of the film. And why in the name of God did the makers have to add “Laila” right at the start of the film? Just when the pace had gone to an all time high in the first five minutes, the speed crashed down to a zero with the very forced item number in which even Sherawat looks disinterested. The same happens with the rest of the songs that appear like annoying speed-breakers.
Overall, if you’re looking for something to pass your time, with some good masala and watertight action, this is the movie to watch, but unfortunately, for a movie with a concept as confused as this, the standard just doesn’t seem to match up, and for that matter, I’d enjoy watching Agent Vinod more, probably because as a filmmaker, Raghavan had given the otherwise wannabe movie a touch of his own.