Excerpt: Ever played a game of three cards, where the first card provides undefined promise; the second card makes a potentially victorious pair with the first; but the last one, just as your heart longs to hit the jackpot, lets the first two cards down, decisively?Teen Patti stands for an enticing promise that never quite delivers beyond threatening to do that.

Review: Probably bound by self-inflicted demands of plurality and morality, the writers of Teen Patti (Shivkumar Subramaniam and Leena Yadav) try to wade through an ocean of cinematic opportunities in all directions, till it becomes clear even to them that the only way to end the stylish zig-zag is to drop anchor right in the middle of deep sea.

In Teen Patti, the plurality act is played out by trendy music (by Salim-Suleiman), glitzy cinematography (by Aseem Bajaj) and the selection of often irresistibly sensuous bodies to, firstly, support Bachchan”s old and Madhavan”s ample frames and secondly to offset the often-abstract-and-aimless interaction between Bachchan and Sir Ben Kingsley. The morality act is provided at the climax via, once again, by an Amitabh Bachchan speech – probably to put all that goes earlier in the movie in perspective!

Unfortunately, neither the chic tools nor politically correct explanations work in totality.

In the end Teen Patti is a film that could have been a razor-sharp, pulsating film devoid of any reasoning or an incisively intelligent film full of cerebrum. The key phrase, however is, “could have been“. It is not.

Teen Patti is a film that is better than the majority of trash that we see everyday, but fails – by some distance – to become a film that we can watch any day.

Teen Patti is about a soon-to-retire math genius Venkat Subramaniam (Amitabh) and his research paper on probability. A simple game of ”teen patti” on Internet convinces him of the potency of his findings. When he shares his thoughts with a fellow lecturer Shantanu (Madhavan) and 4 of his students, he gets sucked into the bait of trying the theory in a real life situation – across underground gambling dens. But before anyone can utter ”mathematics”, all of them get caught in a whirlpool of greed, deceit, ransom and finally, murder.

While the premise looks fresh and interesting, it doesn”t quite pan out that way.

Some of the reasons are unconvincing acting by new actors, often verbose moral talks, sprinkling of known actors (Ajay Devgan, Jackie Shroff, Tinnu Anand, Shakti Kapoor, Ranjit etc) with characters that barely look more than annoying caricatures and, most of all, less than purposeful script and direction (by Leena Yadav).

But what makes up for the above is the freshness of story / scenario, stylish execution of frames and an impactful performance by Amitabh.

And that is the problem with this film. Even in the “impactful performance by Amitabh”, one can clearly ask – “How come he never, ever exhibits any south Indian accent?” Well, maybe because he never lived in his native state. The example is a mere illustration of how nothing fits to the ”perfect T” in the film.

Madhavan is a huge star and a very competent actor. But if it was not told clearly, and enough number of times, he would have been misunderstood for one of his own students. In fact, it might even be a “Five Years Later” portion of 3 Idiots.

Ben Kingsley is an utter waste in the film. So is the special appearance by Ajay Devgan, which does nothing to the film – except making it feel long and labourious. Jackie Shroff”s portion in the film is a disgrace to his own “Hero” legacy.

The newcomers should thank their stars for getting to work with Bachchan, Sir Ben Kingsley and Madhavan. All of them, except Vaibhav Talwar (as Abbas) look raw and need to work on their skills.

What makes the film tick at all times is some pleasing cinematography by Aseem Bajaj. But if camera were the only thing, YouTube would have long killed cinema.

As for the two most important aspects of the film, script and direction, what better illustration can sum up the confusion than the putting together of Amitabh Bachchan and Sir Ben Kingsley – for actually nothing. In fact, and this may seem an exaggeration of sort, Teen Patti can still be the same film, even if you completely remove Sir Ben and all his portions.

And if you do a similar treatment to portions like Mrs Kale”s (Mita Vashisht) scene with Venkat, along with Ajay Devgan”s and Shakti Kapoor”s portions, you might actually have a much tighter and impressive film.

Get the drift?

Verdict: Teen Patti falls short of the promise it held – but can be viewed once, for the sake of trying out a fresh and different story.


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