Thursday 30 January 2014

IMDb Bottom 100 review – Number 97 Tees Maar Khan

 Bollywood is, according to several sources, the largest movie industry in the world, in terms of net profit and sheer volume of produced movies. This taken into consideration, one is more than a little astonished that the Bottom 100 isn’t crammed to the absolute brim with Indian flicks. I do believe, however, there are at least 2 on the list, so fear not – you will be reading about them soon enough. For tonight, ladies and in a broader sense gentlemen, we have before us the review of one Indian flick. The first thing you, and indeed I, would notice about an Indian film is, that it is in Indian. So far, so good. Obviously some sort of subtitle solution was needed, lest it would be even worse than it turned out to be. With that taken care of, we would secondly notice that in 9 out of 9½ cases, an Indian movie WILL involve song and dance throughout the runtime and often for absolutely no apparent reason. This includes action movies or dramas. I am not a religious man, but perhaps Lord Shiva will decent from Hindu Heaven and wreck havoc on earth, if any given movie, regardless of subject matter or tone, doesn’t include a few variety style song and dance numbers. Tonight’s feature sure does include them. In abundance. 

Baby Tees Maar Khan watching heist movies in the womb - it seems TV DOES influence the young!

Generally about the movie
This one is going to be a little rough on the old psyche. Clocking in at an astonishing 2 hours and 10 minutes, this one is by far the longest movie so far, possibly of the whole damn lot. The one good thing about most of these movies were, that they were at least short in length. This one veers off from the beaten path, to thoroughly dazzle us with bright colors, coordinated mass dancing galore and a plot so transparent, you’d miss it if you didn’t know it was there. Also, it is directed by a woman (also a first on this list) who used to be a dance choreographer (you see where this is going? And this is not a stab af female directors, most of which are just as hit and miss as their male counterparts rather than a stab at dance choreographers turned directors). So it should come as no surprise that we are treated to lavishly coordinated dance routines here and there. And everywhere. 

This movie being from 2010 also makes it the most recent movie on this list so far. Most of the flicks I get to review, are at least 15 years old. While it doesn’t really mean much in terms of how well the content of the movie works, it does mean that the picture and sound quality are vastly better than most of the other hunks of dog feces that makes out this list. So that’s something it has going for it, I suppose. My eyes won’t hurt from looking at weirdly grainy pictures, and I’ll be able to better pick up dialogue. Which is ironic, since the movie is in a language I won’t be able to comprehend in the slightest. But at least I can not comprehend it with perfect sound!

According to IMDb, these two incompetent cops were modeled on Thomson and Thompson from Tintin. Shameful. 

About what does the plot revolve, my young padawan?
It’s really kind of hard to say. Despite being a whopping 130 minutes long, surprisingly little actual action manages to happen. The overall story is that the main dude, aptly named Tees Maar Khan (side note on the title. A Google translate with auto detect on the language, tells me that Tees Maar Khan means Action Replay in Afrikaans. I have the hardest time understanding what the fuck that's about. Hindi, Punjabi or Urdu all return nothing usable from Google translate. Action Replay makes sense as a title kind of, but why Afrikaans? No sense was made) is a crook who wants to pull off a big score. To accomplish this, he hoodwinks a leading lady in the movie industry. In fact, he hoodwinks the entire movie industry, and manages to set up a train robbery heist in a small village, disguised as a movie shoot. Everybody in the village are also tricked, spurred by the eternal need for self promotion and a brief stab at stardom. Tons upon tons of colorful characters with little to no actual impact on the story line appear throughout, and add to the general ridiculousness of this movie.

Tees Maar Khan, the character, manages to get a few big Bollywood names involved, several of which are played by actual big names from Bollywood, that I, being the kind of Bottom 100 reviewer who stops at nothing to furnish his readers with knowledge, kind of knew, but then again not really. Well Anil Kapoor, who plays himself, was actually the only guy on there I really knew, seeing as he was in Impossible Mission: Ghost Protocol. Yes, he plays, believe it or not, the Indian dude in there. Who’d’ve thunk it? So Tees Maar Khan poses as a movie producer, sets up a major production based on lies and sheer dumb luck (emphasis on dumb) and gets the village to help him rob a train. That’s all there really is to it. I pride myself on not nodding off when watching films, no matter how shitty they are, but this one gave me a run for my money.

I think the movie would've worked, if they had just said it was based on a true story.

Of course things go completely haywire in the end, when police and a throng of angry villagers decent upon Tees Maar, rightfully pissed that he cheated them so villainously. He dances and sings his way out of trouble like any Indian is able to, and everything ends merrily when he hooks up with the sweet looking femme, and doesn’t go to jail for fraud and assault and all the other charges that would easily stick in an indictment situation. It’s politics all over again, really.
Wow. I’m surprised I managed to stretch this plot walkthrough over 3 somewhat decent paragraphs. I’ll be honest with you lot. I watched this travesty 6 goddamn months ago, and there is just no way in hell I am going to refresh my otherwise excellent memory by watching it again. 

As a small consolation I will tell you, that you aren’t really missing out on a lot of plot here, because there really wasn’t much to begin with. If you are hellbent on finding out more, I’m sure your local neighborhood movie pirate can help you with a copy of this or a streaming link. I would advise against it, but then I ain’t ya mom, kid. Just do me the favor and don’t watch it while tripping on acid. That’d be a high you might never come down from.

I'm betting the animal rights people were busy that day on shoot. 

That bad, huh?
Yeah it’s pretty crappy. I used to live in the great nation of England, namely just outside of London (if by just outside I mean 45 minutes out, which I do), near Heathrow. Why is this relevant? Well just relax and let me tell the damn anecdote, and you might just find out. So I lived outside London, in an area that was predominantly Indian and more specifically Indian of the Sikh faith. That meant a lot of turbans and big ass beards. In the meaning of huge beards. Not ass beards. Anyway, I’m a rather tall guy, and my skin is about as far from mocha brown as you can possibly come. In fact, if I drop my shirt while in direct sunlight, there’s a good chance anybody unfortunate enough to look directly at me, might be blinded for life. Or at least spend a few days in the ICU. Now I didn’t mind living with all these Sikh Indian folk. It was, at the very least, different. But it did present to me a few amusingly unique situations. Like when I went to the cinema, I would very often be the only white dude there, and I’d always be a head taller than everybody else, effectively rendering my view a sea of turbans. While at the theater, I’d almost always consider watching an Indian movie, of which there was always a wide selection playing. But I never did, mostly because I’d feel kind of weird in there, what with being a tall 
Scandinavian fella. Also, I feared they wouldn’t have English subtitles, in which case I’d just waste time and money really. So why was this relevant? Well it wasn’t really super relevant, but I felt like telling it anyway. The next paragraph will try and make it a little more relevant. And as an added bonus, you now have intimate knowledge of my life. Freaky, really. But there we are.

Not sure what they were going for here. Realism? Surely not!

So I found this movie to be long and pretty boring. I guess, in a perfect world this plot could’ve worked in a movie featuring somebody like Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland. It’s still far fetched, but hell.. I’ve seen far fetched movie plots work out like charms. Which is, I guess, what this movie also lacks. Charm. At least charm I understand. Since it’s on the Bottom 100, I am going to have to assume, that whatever charm this movie possesses, is also lost on the audience for which it was actually intended. Movies, outside of Disney, with lots of singing and dancing always kind of renders me a little, how should I put this mildly, alert! Opera, now that’s different. But opera in movie form? It feels like a medium that kind of needs to be seen in person, rather than on a screen. While this movie isn’t a musical per se, and certainly not an opera, as much as it is just an Indian film, it is rather heavy on the group dancing events. And I’m just not a sucker for those things. I really am not. Also, Punjabi music isn’t my particular cup of tea. So as for me, Tees Maar Khaaaaaaaaan is really barking up the wrong tree.

Also, and this may be chalked up to cultural differences, lots of characters were played as either flamboyantly homosexual or a little androgynous in their behavior. It was hard to get why this was deliberately done. I’m all for equal opportunity for the LGBT community, and it’d be a beautiful day when movies and/or TV shows feature homosexual characters without it being raised as a character trait with which that specific character is identified. But in Tees Maar Khan people are overly gayish, as in almost caricaturedly so. Caricaturedly? Yeah, I adverbialised caricature. Don’t worry, it’s totally a thing.  The homosexuality didn’t make sense, but since the movie is otherwise super colorful in costumes and razzle dazzle, I sort of assumed it was just done because why the fuck shouldn’t it be? It doesn't have any effect on the story whatsoever. Perhaps, since sexual intercourse between two consenting adults of the same gender is still punishable by law in India, and has only recently been broached in the media and Bollywood, Tees Maar Khan, being from 2010, uses latent homosexuality in its characters to poke the censors right where it might possibly hurt. It's hard to say for sure, because it wasn’t done convincingly and perhaps it is beyond the scope of this reviewer's reviewing abilities. Tees Maar Khan came so close to being culturally and politically relevant, yet narrowly missed it in the nick of time.

A lot of stuff in this picture isn't alright. And this wasn't even the worst in there!

Why is this something that exists?
Considering how many movies Bollywood spurts into the face of an all to suspecting public, they are bound to make a few stinkers here and there. I’m not a big fan of Indian movies, as I have mentioned quite a few times, but I hear there are a few gems out there, and I have made an effort to acquire a few of them for viewing sometime when I am up for it. Thankfully I am open minded enough not to let this particular piece of shit determine my overall view on Indian flicks, partly because it is already a little shady, but also because I try my best not to be THAT guy. Tees Maar Khan didn’t exactly help my thoughts on this particular genre, but I’ll reserve further judgment for later.

The lady who directed Tees Maar Khan is named Farah Khan. Khan is a common name in India, so don’t get all riled up. She used, as I touched upon, to be a dance choreographer and moving on to feature films was, apparently, a natural progression in her career. She seems to be married into a family that is rather deeply entangled in the movie industry. Another actor in Tees Maar Khan, also playing himself, is Salman Khan. Now, I didn’t know him off the top of my weary head, but a quick glance over his IMDb info tells me he isn’t one of Mother Theresa’s favorite children. Ties to mafia, drugs and, amazingly enough, drunk driving and manslaughter charges (that I don’t care to find out if he was actually convicted on) are all in there. Perhaps Mother Theresa would’ve liked him anyway! His father was some sort of hot shot movie writer from back in the good old 1970s (that might very well have been Bollywood’s golden age for all I know). So perhaps the two Khans had some personal reasons to either have this movie made to begin with, or to fast track it from script to screen. It looks lavish, so I have to assume it has cost quite a bit.

The least of this guy's problems, was being an albino.

I bet you couldn’t even do better… could you?
No, not at all. I mean, I wouldn’t ever be able to dream up half the shit that goes on in this movie. But also I suspect the budget was, perhaps alarmingly, in the general vicinity of the roof. It’s flashy as hell, and pompous to boot – both qualities I definitely do not claim to utilize and/or possess. So I wouldn’t be able to get myself worked up enough about this, to churn out anything even resembling what we get to look at in Tees Maar Khan. I have pondered what kind of movie I would make, should I ever decide to dabble in that particular branch of the creative arts, and I think it would more than likely end up being a melancholic drama with a lot of sadness, yet strangely life affirming by means of subtle underplayed humor. Yeah I do flatter myself, and perhaps rightly so? Ok, that was more flattery. But like a sweet girl I know always says: Flattery will get you everywhere!

These dudes were supposed to be Siamese twins, joined at the hip. 

You mean to tell me you didn’t like even one bit about this?
I don’t know. What is there to like really? If you like movies where everybody wears really colorful outfits, even when it’s wildly inappropriate, where people have dubiously emerging sexualities that serve no purpose but (failed) comedic effect, and all of the crew break out into dance and song at moments that aren’t inherently songy and dancy, then this one is probably for you. I just can’t… I just can’t get my blood boiling when I watch a movie like this. I found it dull and drab, and all the fun that I recognized was intended, just totally fell flat on its jokey little face.

Through some weird mishap, the pilots of the plane had locked themselves out of the cockpit, and Tees Maar Khan was their only hope. 

I suppose, and I hate myself for saying this, that the only really redeeming thing, was a few sweet looking girls. I mean, one hundred and thirty fucking five minutes of what was basically an extended music video, in Indian, with English words inexplicably littered throughout, you’re bound to see a few cute girls along the way. And decent looking guys too I suppose. But it just isn’t, and never has been, enough. Not by a long shot. I didn’t hate this movie, like I did Troll 2, for instance. And it didn’t make me really annoyed like .Com for Murder. It just didn’t do anything for me. I know I’m not alone in thinking this, obviously, but still I suppose this could have been enjoyed, if one was into the whole Bollywood thing. It certainly had a lot of meta references, that you’d probably not catch unless you were either IN Bollywood, or an aficionado of said movie production city. And I just weren’t either of those things.

All in all, this one wasn’t super bad. It wasn’t enjoyable either, but it had a very slight entertainment value, that I suppose I’ll just go ahead and mention. I wouldn’t say it was even a good hangover on a slow Sunday watch, unless you had been hitting the bong hard, and needed a fast paced movie that still wouldn’t be hard to follow combined with lots of flashy cuts and music. I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. It sucked, but was still better than the previous 3 films, which doesn’t say much. 

When I grabbed screenshots for this article, I realized the song and dance tracks were easily 10 minutes long. 


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