TEZZ

Perhaps it’s appropriate that Priyadarshan no longer refers to himself as director of his films, choosing instead to go with the credit “Filmed by Priyadarshan”. The extent of his involvement on Tezz for one, hardly qualifies as anything more than mere ‘filming’, given that it’s an unapologetic rip-off of the popular Japanese film, The Bullet Train.

Ajay Devgan stars as an engineer in London who’s deported home to India when the authorities discover he’s been flouting immigration laws. He returns to England four years later, determined to seek revenge for being separated from his wife Kanagana Ranaut, who for reasons unknown stays back and pines for her husband instead of catching the next flight to India and joining him there.

Now in terrorist mode, Devgan plants a bomb on the London-Glasgow Express, threatening to blow up the passenger train if his demand for 10 million Euros isn’t met. He’s aided in this mission by Zayed Khan and Sameera Reddy, who owe him a favor from a few years ago.

Even as Boman Irani comes close to popping a vein as the distressed control-room head who must figure out ways to keep the train running, Anil Kapoor struts about coolly as a quick-thinking counter-terrorism officer who’s on the trail of these troublemakers. Aside from some tacky CGI shots of criss-crossing trains, much of the action in Tezz unfolds outside of the railways, as Devgan and his accomplices dodge the cops on everything from canoes and speedboats to motorbikes and fast cars. Occasionally the chase sequences work – particularly a thrilling foot chase between Zayed Khan and Anil Kapoor – but many of them are so lazily filmed and edited that they inspire no nail-biting tension whatsoever.

From leather jackets and trench coats to dark glasses and monkey caps…if only half the budget spent on the trendy wardrobe of the actors in this film had been utilized to hammer out a more sensible script, perhaps Tezz might have been a less stupid film. In one embarrassing scene, a British cop insinuates that Anil Kapoor might have intentionally botched up the case because he’s protecting the terrorist, who’s also Indian. More idiotic is the manner in which the terrorist’s nationality is discovered – while communicating with him on the phone, Boman Irani hears him mutter a Hindi swear word accidentally. But nothing is more preposterous than the film’s positioning of Devgan as a wronged man. Seriously…this guy is threatening to blow up a train for having been deported because he was an illegal immigrant! And we’re meant to root for him?

If that doesn’t make you laugh, Anil Kapoor’s accent most definitely will. Kapoor earnestly tackles his role, as does Devgan, but you can’t help feeling like you’ve seen all this before…in films like Speed and The Taking of Pelham 123 to name just a few. Boman Irani tries desperately to cling on to his dignity, but it’s only Mohanlal, as an anti-narcotics officer on board the doomed train, who scrapes by without completely embarrassing himself.

Tezz has many of the ingredients for an engaging, fast-paced thriller. What it needed was a director to assemble its parts and make them work. Alas, Priyadarshan is content with merely filming.

I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for Tezz…awfully boring for a film that promises speed and thrills.

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