Look carefully – Tezz shows you a London Bollywood hasn’t explored before. Forget those chiffon saree-soirees, lush parks and cream teas – Tezz’s London showcases illegal Indian migrants trapped between violent ghettoes and furious policemen, wet sewers, oily garages and bomb-strapped garbage bins. This is a gritty city, normally shown as every Indian’s vacation paradise – but what happens to those who want to live there, even illegally?
Tezz follows engineer Akash Rana’s (Devgn) life unraveling as he and his workmates Megha (Reddy) and Adil (Khan) get hunted by British immigration. Rana suffers the cruelest cut – his marriage to British citizen Nikita (Ranaut) is declared invalid, he’s deported, she’s jailed for unpaid loans. But it’s not over – four years later, Rana returns seeking revenge and the London-Glasgow Express, 500 people on board, finds itself laced with a bomb that’ll explode if the train drops under a certain speed.
Sounds familiar? Tezz draws from different vehicle-thrillers, reminding you of Keanu Reeves’ Speed one moment, Vinod Khanna’s Burning Train another. But it isn’t just another machismo-fueled race – instead, Reddy is Tezz’s surprise package, pulling off devilish stunts, looking stunning in the short life of a desperate Megha. As Counter-Terrorism Command Chief Arjun Khanna, Kapoor looks good too – and with one glance at a boy with bandaged eyes, he reminds you of the acting power-house he is.
In Tezz, he’s pitted against Devgn (the latter can play ‘smouldering’ in his sleep apparently) and occasionally, Boman Irani as Sanjay Raina, Railway Traffic Controller. In one tense scene, Irani controls a track-switch, trembling almost like a music conductor commanding a symphony. There’s a shout-down between Kapoor and him – over far too soon. In fact, you’re left wishing Tezz had more dramatic face-offs between its fine actors but instead, the film diverts into several tracks too many.
Mohanlal is poorly used as policeman Nair escorting a criminal via train. As is Ranaut, pretty in her now-familiar ‘impending doom’ style, but with little to do. Khan looks fresh but has a shaky role – topped with a thrilling chase. Mallika Sherawat performs an item number in the ‘Desi Club’, asking, “Do you wanna get hot? Do you wanna get wet?” – but after all that promise, dances little and smiles even less. Tezz’s London, overrun by Indians, is also populated by Brits speaking hilariously fluent Hindi and despite pumping background music, features few pleasing songs, snatches from just one qawwali, Tere Saaye Mein, standing out. Otherwise, it’s gunshots and grim lines, some pacey – “Ye koi naya kameena hai,” quips Kapoor of Devgn – some not.
Despite slick action and stunning scenes – bullets ramming underwater into a sunlit stream, a violet flower-bush before a cop-car – Tezz loses speed often. Here’s possibly why – director Priyadarshan’s oeuvre is putting characters in desperate situations and watching them respond. It works beautifully in comedies – but Tezz needs relentless pushing, not frequent stops pondering over the unfairness of citizenship. You can’t run fast carrying heavy baggage – that’s why Tezz huffs and puffs a little too much.
Revenge-seeking Indians plant a bomb on a British train – can Indians loyal to the law prevent an explosion fast enough?