Now, I could credit myself with being somewhat prepared for a disappointment the day before Tashan's release, as I said in this post. The truth, however, is that not much can prepare one for Tashan, except perhaps Jhoom Barabar Jhoom (2007), which would make the former look very good while being the lowest of low benchmarks.
Yes, I saw Tashan this past weekend. My criticism of the film is relatively mild compared to most of what has been said about it. To make this review somewhat challenging, though, I hope to try to list some of the positives from the film as well (it's worth a shot). So here are my highlights from a film that I truly think received less credit than it deserved (it deserved little, but not zero):
1. Liked how the film started out, with a medley of Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein and Highway to Hell. A fitting start to a film that sells style. Particularly liked the backdrop and the old-school red car.
2. The importance of intelligible speech and call center workers in India make Saif Ali Khan's character (Jimmy) interesting from a professional standpoint. While in business school, I was recruited by a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firm in India for what they called a 'Cultural Exchange Program'. In it, participants would spend a summer critiquing accents of the Indian call center workers and help them achieve a closer-to-American English accent. While it was an offer I passed (not my choice of practice), the recruiting process and simulations were interesting enough to give me an appreciation for Saif's profession in the film. Although I disliked the fillers in his speech. Isn't an English speech tutor supposed to be a more eloquent speaker?
Saif's wardrobe didn't really complement him either.
3. Kareena Kapoor as Pooja is okay. She has her moments, and there is only so much one can do with her role. If her purpose is solely to look good, she succeeds as she always has and likely will. Although if she were really after the money, a better alternative for her (and one less risky) might have been to not flirt with Saif and file a sexual harassment claim against his employer. That would have earned her some bucks without having to fear Bhaiyya, thereby omitting Bhaiyya from the film. And that might just have worked, because...
3. ...Anil Kapoor as Bhaiyya rids one of any ambiguity of the direction of the film. I am an Anil Kapoor fan (have been since Mr. India), but this is one film we should have been spared of, especially since most of us believe he is one of the best actors around. It is not that he did not act well -- there is something inherently flawed in the character he plays. Very poor, and the weakest link in the film.
There were two scenes starring Anil that I thought were interesting. One was when, as he was learning English, he sang the Humpty Dumpty rhyme to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Hilarious. And in the scene in which he yells at Kareena, the delivery of the word 'kaise', followed by the word 'how' (which he pronounced haa-ooo) was well done.
4. Akshay Kumar as Bachchan Pandey is the highlight of the film. Did not like how he was introduced, saying (while holding a cricket bat): 'I am Sachin and Lara mixed', following which he used the bat to commit a violent act! Tsk-tsk.
Soon after, though, he made up with some excellent work right after the intermission. There is a scene where Kareena, while behind a rock and trying to seduce him, asks him for her clothes. In so doing, she uses the word 'please', to which Akshay responds: 'Please bol bol kar poorey desh ka satyaanaash kar diya hai'. Easily one of the most memorable dialogs of the film. And Gudiya and Bachchan look good together later in the film too.
5. The music is good, although not all songs fit in well. Dil Haara and Chaliya are forced (although the former is well choreographed, and the latter stars Kareena Kapoor in a bikini en route to losing some of my long-held admiration for her -- more for the song and its irrelevance than for the attire), and the film could have done just as well (or not) without them.
Dil Dance Maare is fun and interesting, and I caught myself (on several occasions) noticing the other dancers (e.g. those atop the trucks in the picture below) and not Kareena (ah, the 'gustaakh nigaah'/disobedient glance). Their dresses and overall tashan quotient were a lot more appealing than Kareena like this:
I was speaking to the artwork on trucks while sharing this Jaane Tu... trailer. There really are better examples than the ones shown.
Noted in my soundtrack review that Falak Tak was the most well-written song of the film, and still maintain that. It is also the most well-choreographed and best overall song, by far. Maybe it is because I missed the festival of Basant atop the roofs of Lahore while watching the video. Or maybe it is because of Kareena Kapoor in clothing that I think suits her best. Whatever the case, the song is fantastic:
6. After an unnecessarily long climax (I almost fell asleep amid the gunfire, would you believe it?!), the last sentence in the film is ironic. "What's life without tashan?", they ask. Ironic because they answered that question through most of the film, so why be flippant about it?
Overall, Tashan is an ordinary filmy product. It does not make for unbearable viewing. But as much as one tries to dwell on the positives, it is difficult to ignore all the shortcomings of a film that promised much and delivered little. The strong moments are few and far in between. The combined effect is a film that is wasted, which is sad because its cast, music, and to some extent, even wardrobe, embodied tashan as advertised prior to the films release.
I do not think guns are sexy or stylish. And the plot, combined with a casting of Anil Kapoor (he too will have to take ownership of this one) that annoys me most, makes the film the biggest letdown of the year. Two stars for an average film that disappoints (if only because the expectations were hardly met).
Movie rating: ** (average -- disappointing!)
My classification: R (for violence and language)
Official website: http://www.yashrajfilms.com/...tashan.html
Picture source: This picture gallery.