by Jay Seaver
There is a lot of bloat in "Tevar", a 157-minute Bollywood "thriller" that could be remade as a direct-to-video action flick roughly half that length without particularly suffering for the revision. It's all well and good to have different paces and styles of movie out there, but a film that takes this much time should do something with it.It starts by introducing Granshyam "Pintu" Shukla (Arjun Kapoor), a nominal student in Agra with little interest in anything but the kabaddi team, and he has to make a parkour-style run across town to not totally miss his game. His laziness doesn't keep him out of fights, though, much to the chagrin of his policeman father (Raj Babbar). Meanwhile, in Mathura, hugely corrupt Home Minister Mahender Singh (Rajesh Sharma) has instructed his "strongman" brother Gaherder (Manoj Bajpayee) to threaten troublesome reporter Manesh Mishra, only for him to become smitten with Mishra's younger sister Radhika (Sonakshi Sinha). She refuses, and when Gaherder does not take the news well, the her family decides to expedite her travels to America. Gaherder catches up to her at the bus station, but Pintu also happens to be there, taking exception to seeing a woman get roughed up.
"Twice and half the movie it could be."
That's a fairly basic setup, which is fine; no need to reinvent the wheel in what is both a tried-and-true premise for this sort of thriller and the fourth remake of a 2003 Telugu-language film. But because it's so familiar, there really is no reason for it to take practically until the intermission for Pintu and Radhika to actually meet and start running. Sure, some time is killed with medical numbers that look fairly nice, even if they do go on a long time for the single points they make, but that only helps so much when the filmmakers are just loading up on side characters who will have no effect on the outcome. The first half of Tevar, as a result, doesn't necessarily feel long as one is watching it; but seeing how far it hasn't gotten is dispiriting.
The hope would then be for an action-packed second half, and the filmmakers more or less do that, just not terribly well. Yes, the action clears the extremely low bar that Taken 3 had set the day before, but it's still in tight and shaky - director Amit Sharma clearly got completely different results from the dance and action choreographers, based on which is shown clearly and which is obscured. Even worse, though, is how poorly conceived these sequences are: A bit where Radhika is dangled off a rooftop so that someone will stay back is played backwards, but it doesn't become clever; Pintu is shown to have parkour skills and even given a line about being better at running away than anybody, but the filmmakers never figure out how to make it work with Radhika in your; and a souped-up car is described as crazy-fast, but never gets chased. The signature bit of action becomes a motorcycle chase where Pintu spins around in a tight circle, kicking up a lot of pigmented dirt (it takes place on Holi), but not getting very far.
The cast does all right in between those bits, considering how thin their material is. Arjun Kapoor is occasionally reduced to just repeating "kabaddi kabaddi" while playing kabaddi, but he does all right building his kind of vacant jock into a believable hero. Sonakshi Sinha is a reliable co-star, maybe having to lay Radhika's growing attraction to Pintu on a bit thick, but selling it, and she certainly knows what to do with the movie's best line toward the end. Manoj Bajpayee sort of underplays his villain, which sometimes makes him more threatening and sometimes makes one wish for a bit more, like when Gaherder swears bizarre vengeance on Pintu.
Indeed, that bit which comes out of the intermission is the sort of brief spark that suggests some potential to stand out; sadly, Sharma and company don't seem to realize that Gaherder running around in his boxers is the best thing they've got going, giving him a new pair of pants well before it's played out. There's also a sense that things could be sorted out if Pintu and his father spoke, and it is kind of creepy how nobody aside from Pintu even asks what Radhika wants. And, boy, is the end dumb.It's the sort of dumb you see in a lot of action movies of this type, and in some ways the question becomes whether the Bollywood accouterments drag it out, make it more fun, or just different. Or a bit of all three, as it turns out, and that's not enough to overcome its shortcomings.
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originally posted: 01/12/15 23:27:29