Saturday, January 24, 2015


Release date (India):
January 9, 2015
Amit Ravindernath Sharma

Arjun Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Manoj Bajpayee, Rajesh Sharma, Raj Babbar, Deepti Naval

Like its hero, Tevar spends most of its running time running all over the place. It wants to be grand, action-filled, funny, serious, disturbing, insightful, pretty, romantic and more. In trying to be so much though, it ends up being too little, throttling its slivers of promise with its own bare hands. This is a very crowded project and its intent gets lost somewhere in that crowd.

Tevar is the Hindi remake of the 2003 Telugu film Okkadu that elevated the young Mahesh Babu into a stratospheric league of stardom. The idea behind its Bollywood version is clearly to showcase Arjun Kapoor, whose father Boney Kapoor is the producer.

And so Kapoor Junior – playing a kind-hearted hooligan and kabaddi player called Pintoo a.k.a Ghanshyam from Agra – gets to loll about with friends, bash up goons, get bashed up by them, ‘save’ a girl from them, fall in love with her, dance with large groups of colourfully dressed male extras, dance with the heroine, dance with a glamorous female star doing a cameo and single-handedly vanquish the chief villain. In short, everything that a typical masala flick hero like Salman Khan gets to do in pretty much every film. Pintoo even sings Main toh Superman, Salman ka fan / Jo leve panga, kar dun maa-behen (to be pronounced “bhaan”),” in the very first number that serves to introduce the audience to this wonderboy.

The actor has both charm and talent, as we already know from watching his five film releases so far. That brooding demeanour adds to the intriguing package. However, he is yet to develop the charisma that sometimes enables stars to rise above poor writing and incompetent direction.

Tevar’s inadequate writing is exemplified by the characterisation of the leading lady and by Pintoo’s romantic graph with her. Firstly, we get to know next to nothing about this Mathura-based dancer called Radhika Mishra (played by a lacklustre Sonakshi Sinha), apart from the fact that she is the sister of a journalist who antagonises the state Home Minister (Rajesh Sharma) and his arrogant brother Gajendar (Manoj Bajpayee). She shows some chutzpah in the beginning when Gajendar unceremoniously proposes marriage to her, but in later scenes metamorphoses into a meek creature who hangs about without lifting a finger to help Pintoo while he takes on gangs of goondas in his bid to protect her. Second, it is clear why she falls in love with him (though he looks and behaves like a ruffian, he’s that rare creature who risks his life to help a stranger) but in his case, it appears that he needs no more incentive to love her than the realisation that she is in love with him.

The intersection of Pintoo’s strand with Radhika and Gajender’s story is smoothly executed in a high-adrenaline, highly believable scene. Oddly enough, that moment comes too late in the film. Worse, the momentum thus gained is soon frittered away by a congested narrative.

As if that’s not bad enough, songs are repeatedly inserted abruptly into the story, slowing down the pace and serving as awkward interruptions. It doesn’t help that almost all the situations which these numbers are chucked into are now Bollywood cliches. Even the choreography is cliched, with guest star Shruti Haasan getting her bottom drummed like a bongo by the hero in Madamiyan. Shruti is lovely and a natural dancer – she deserves better. So do Deepti Naval (playing Pintoo’s mother) and Rajesh Sharma who are sinfully under-used in Tevar.

Sonakshi Sinha, on the other hand, seems convinced that she does not deserve better, if we are to go by her decision to persistently opt for films in which the heroine plays tenth fiddle to the hero. She is such a marginal player in the proceedings in Tevar that I wanted to weep for the potential that was evident in Vikramaditya Motwane’s 2013 film Lootera. She spends most of Tevar peeping out wanly at the audience from behind Pintoo’s bulky shoulder. I guess we should be grateful she does not flash us her profile as she is wont to do in most of her films.

Tevar’s one saving grace is Gajendar. Manoj Bajpayee is clearly enjoying playing the evil fellow. He gets the best lines in the film, and delivers them with obvious delight. The scenes with this supporting character are evidence of what director Amit Ravindernath Sharma was trying to achieve overall with Tevar: a sort of Gangs of Wasseypur (GoW) 3 helmed by a Salman Khan/Akshay Kumar-like fantastical, comic action hero. Sadly, he can’t pull it off. Sorry, Mr Sharma, in Khan and Kumar’s most entertaining films, their swagger has been complemented by cheeky writing. Sorry again, but calling one song Joganiyan and another Madamiyan, doth not a GoW make; what it doth make instead is a GoW wannabe. Anurag Kashyap’s Wasseypur films (Part 1 in particular) had a swagger in their writing and directorial panache. Tevar has neither.

Rating (out of five): *

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
160 minutes

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