Renowned choreographer turned filmmaker Farah Khan follows up her successful film Om Shanti Om with a remake of the 1966 Italian comedy After the Fox which starred Peter Sellers, and with that departed from the casting of Shah Rukh Khan, her leading man in her first two films, and got one of the more successful and established Bollywood pairings with actors Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif in leading roles. Like After the Fox, Tees Maar Khan not only adopts a similar storyline, but also inherited its spirit with the tremendous amount of inside jokes and film references that Farah Khan has already shown a knack for with OMO, honed from goodwill working with many in the industry through the myriad of films she has choreographed for.
The story is simply the telling of international master con artist Tabrez Mirza Khan aka Tees Maar Khan (Akshay Kumar), who gets contracted to rob a moving train full of antiques under the watchful eye of the police who's on board to guard the national treasures. He hatches an audacious plan which involves his own cover of being a director, and ropes in an entire unsuspecting village of naive villagers to aid in his scheme, even convincing a desperate superstar actor Atish Kapoor (Akshaye Khanna) that he's the real deal with a film that can make Atish finally reach out for his obsession of winning an Oscar award finally, after inadvertently passing on a role that went to Anil Kapoor for Dumbdog Millionaire.
Yes you read that right, and that's only the tip of the iceberg in the number of references the film makes to the industry of Bollywood and Hollywood, though while Farah Khan's OMO had a barrage of cameos in part thanks to the number Deewangi Deewangi, here the cameos are limited though no less an impact nor taking away any of the fun when mentioned, from Danny Boyle to M Night Shyamalan with comedic spoofs to names, places and films. Some may find fault that the composition of the film may remind one of her earlier effort such as the film within a film structure, in essence, this is a filmmaker's film and Farah Khan aces in making it something that you'll need to see more than once to catch everything she throws into it which all worked in a magical manner. Even her crew become extras on the set, and like an ode to her industry and co-creators and collaborators whose industry is recognized in the same way she closed OMO.
But the fun boils down to the fantastic item numbers Farah puts into Tees Maar Khan, scoring plenty of points with the coup she managed with Katrina Kaif, highlighting her sensuality and sexiness all at the same time through the much talked about Sheila Ki Jawani. While I had half expected the audience to break out into a boisterous mood, I swear the hall was stunned into silence as everyone gawked at what I would put my money on as the Item Number of the year, period. And what a way it was to introduce Kaif's Anya, the live in girlfriend of Tees Maar Khan who's in on his secret, an aspiring though talentless actress wannabe. While Kaif nails this bimbotic, airhead role to perfection, it is her musical numbers that impressed all the time.
And to top that within the same film even, Farah Khan pulled off another coup, which again stunned the audience a second time round with audible gasps of disbelief, before breaking out into laughter for the very wry and sly manner in which reel life mimicked the real, or at least whatever the tabloids want us to believe. We know Salman Khan, who had a successful year with his Dabangg, will make a cameo appearance here, but to have him perform in a number and sharing the same frame with both Akshay Kumar, and especially ex-flame Katrina Kaif, was a sight to behold in Wallah Re Wallah, especially when Akshay in character almost always become protective of Anya from other hot blooded male predators. One word: Amazing.
While Akshay Kumar may be one of the more industrious actors from B-town, not every film turns out a classic. I had high hopes for his pairing opposite Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Action Replayy last month, but the story unfortunately tanked. I suppose he has more luck almost always opposite Katrina Kaif, and here he's back to what he does best, playing macho characters. His Tees Maar Khan possesses this impossible swagger and a master of disguise, relying on his wits to get out of sticky situations and dexterous skills of thievery to earn a living, emerging always one step ahead of the cops in pursuit. The introduction to his character came right from the start as an animated baby before and during the opening credits, influenced by his film loving mom while watching cop and robber films with the fetus deciding to live a life of crime instead.
If there's a minor flaw, I'm complaining about the lack of English subtitles before the opening credits, which thankfully was a short scene. Certain subplots also weren't necessary at first, until you realize they were pieces to wrap up the third act to paint a more sympathetic picture of Tees Maar Khan as the half Robin Hood who develops a heart of gold for the villagers he intended to snook, but influenced slowly through the pangs of guilt and compassion to embody and enrich the character. Split down the middle with the intermission separates the film like the recent Ashutosh Gowariker outing Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, with character introductions and planning before the actual commencement of the action in the latter half,
Tees Maar Khan screams Fun with a capital F right from the start, with very deliberate over-acting, an audacious plot and over the top presentation that makes it the right film to end this season with plenty of laughs and a reminder not to take everything so seriously. Farah Khan is in top form with her direction and vision on how TMK is to be presented, ensuring repeat viewings for many reasons at many levels, be it to catch certain scenes again, or to count the number of easter eggs inserted. Relax, have fun, and take it away, Kat!