NEW DELHI

A grand bargain: Six super heroes for the price of one

This week's offerings:Ajay Devgn's character sticks to his time-tested ways in “Tezz”. At right, a motley gang of “The Avengers” once again save the day. Thor, portrayed by Chris Hemsworth (left), and Captain America, played by Chris Evans, in a scene from the movie.

This week's offerings:Ajay Devgn's character sticks to his time-tested ways in “Tezz”. At right, a motley gang of “The Avengers” once again save the day. Thor, portrayed by Chris Hemsworth (left), and Captain America, played by Chris Evans, in a scene from the movie.  



TEZZ



Set out to make a thriller, good old Priyadarshan delivers an unintentional comedy which is neither sharp nor sensible. Before the release, the seasoned director denied its resemblance to Hollywood films like Speed, Unstoppable and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, but all three cast their long shadows on the content and treatment of this film. At a time when most Hollywood action movies make it to Indian theatres in different languages, it seems pointless to deny the obvious.

Of course the soul is Indian, but it is too silly to provide a believable core to an international situation where an illegal immigrant hits back by planting a bomb on a train rushing from London to Glasgow. The guy is Akash Rana (Ajay Devgn repeating his trademark intense act), an engineer, who we are told is separated from his wife and is deported to India for flouting British immigration laws.

Four years later, he is back with his colleagues (Sameera Reddy and Zaid Khan), who too were ostensibly deported, to seek revenge from the British State for keeping him away from his wife (Kangana Ranaut) and kid. Why the wife did not try to go to India doesn't occur to seasoned writer Robin Bhatt. Akash wants to extort a huge sum from the State to pay for the eye operation of his colleague's brother whose eyes are bandaged before the surgery! And we thought Bollywood has said goodbye to such blind ideas which were indispensable in the 1970s and ‘80s potboilers.

The writer plays too safe with Ajay's image, and as a result fails to evoke either hatred or sympathy for Akash. In the beginning you don't fear him and by the end you don't feel for him. Neeraj Pandey penned a similar character in A Wednesday with far better results.

Inspired or not, a hurtling train about to explode is explosive material but Priyadarshan turns it into a tedious exercise with lazily-shot action sequences. There are about 10 hours before the bomb explodes and you feel like you sat through the long hours for a tepid climax. Thriller doesn't seem to be his forte or he didn't get his way as the producers seem more interested in fitting in an irrelevant item song than spending some bucks to bring alive the tackily-handled train sequences. The escape from one train to another is laughable. The Burning Train might still beat Tezz in creating tension. The only time you move towards the edge of the seat is when Zaid employs parkour to escape the police's net, but that fizzles out too.

Boman Irani as the railway control room in-charge tries to put in a decent act but it doesn't help much because he seems to be enacting a watered-down version of Denzel Washington in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 . Similarly, Anil Kapoor as the officer called back from retirement to stop the supposed terrorist strike attempts to perk things up by looking busy, but the writing and execution makes his efforts appear pointless. The stereotypes are casually thrown at us. Kapoor has Khan for surname in the film, so his intentions are doubted. Mohanlal is wasted in a thankless job as the police officer on the train. The versatile actor can do almost everything, but balancing oneself between two fast moving trains is expecting a bit too much from the portly actor. If this is not enough, you keep asking yourself if so many people of Indian origin are running the show in England and so many Britons can converse in Hindi then the country's fears are not misplaced and it should tighten its immigration laws. Add to it the wooden ways of Zaid Khan and Kangna's ability to eat her own words; one gets a sensation to rush to the nearest exit, Tezz . Alas! I am not as lucky as you are.



LIFE KI TOH LAG GAYI



In the week of derailed efforts, this is a bigger mishap to handle. A son (Kay Kay Menon) seeking revenge for his gangster father's murder, a Chandigarh girl (Neha Bhasin) desperate for a foothold in film industry, a transferred police officer (Manu Rishi) struggling to understand the corrupt system and a chef (Ranvir Shorey) unable to understand the recipe called love, director Rakesh Mehta attempts to melt four diverse stories in the pot called Mumbai, but gets the assortment horribly wrong.

It is the kind of film where the director feels that offbeat treatment will hide the inadequacies and lack of imagination in writing. He has bitten off more than he can chew as none of the stories works, and apart from Manu Rishi's honest performance as the Haryanvi cop, none of the characters holds interest. If Kay Kay Menon's episode turns out to be dreary despite his attempt to be suitably quirky, Neha's segment is full of pretence. But it is the supposedly “esoteric” interaction between Ranvir and his infuriating Bengali musician friend (Pradhuman Singh setting new standards in irking the audience) that tortures the unsuspecting audience. As expected, the four stands have to meet but the director fails to tie them up in a neat bow, as in an attempt to be different things get jumbled up. We know anything could happen in the city of dreams but such nightmares are better avoided!



THE AVENGERS



When you get six super heroes for the price of one, it is not a bad bargain. So give reason a slip and sit back and enjoy as they team up to save the Earth from a demi-god called Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who slips into our atmosphere when an energy source of humungous potential goes awry and opens a portal through space. This evil brother of Thor declares he has a glorious purpose, for he feels freedom is an overrated virtue and that the human race likes to be subjugated. He has the wherewithal to do it. He shows it by taking control of energy source called Tesseract and the minds of key agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (no prizes for guessing what it is supposed to do).

Pushed to the wall, S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson not getting much to kick) assembles a team of super heroes to take on the bluster of Loki. Agent Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is approached. The Black Widow, as Natasha is popularly called, literally swings into action and travels all the way to India where the Hulk is leading a controlled life as Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), saving lives in Kolkata slums. It is pointless to debate India's representation here for it is futile to expect any layers or deep meaning in this adaptation of Marvel's comic book series. If you are expecting director Joss Whedon to peel layers off super hero psyche, you will be disappointed from this franchise-driven formula gleaming with superficial banter and awe-inspiring 3D action in Manhattan. Float on the surface and you might enjoy the experience.

Anyway, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) join hands to take on the might of Loki. Coming from different eras, the heroes on the surface are well-etched out and their skirmishes are swashbuckling as they take time to hit out as a team. Be it Stark's irreverent ways irking the gentle super hero that Captain America is or the collision between Thor and Hulk, the inside jokes keep coming and the scene bristles with energy as the imposing helicarrier takes flight. Stark forms the core of this enterprise, as he not only dares to cut Loki to size but also keep his colleagues in check. Describing Thor as Shakespeare in the park and Captain America as old-fashioned, he keeps The Avengers grounded. Ruffalo is equally game for Whedon's effort to imbue some harmless repartees into the proceedings as he injects a mischievous spirit in the one-dimensional Hulk. The only hitch is the opposition doesn't seem credible enough to test the heroes. Each of these super heroes has saved the world, some more than once. In such a scenario, the skinny Loki appears rather low key after the initial burst and his fleet of endless Chitauris doesn't appear novel enough to marvel! The climax is suitably loud and you can feel the dollars spent but give us some real character, mate!

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