Saif Ali Khan’s call centre employee and part-time teacher Jimmy spots a sultry maiden getting soaked in the rain on an ordinary afternoon. She’s Pooja Singh (Kareena Kapoor) who wants Jimmy to coach her boss in English. Little does Jimmy know that her boss is Lakhan Singh Bhaiyaji (Anil Kapoor), a dreaded criminal from Bihar who is a “fan of tashan” and wants to learn English for the ishtyle.
Dressed in flamboyant, gleaming suits that sparkle more than stars, Bhaiyaji is flanked by two assistants (Manoj Pahwa and Sanjay Mishra). The story progresses as a booty of several crores changes hands and it’s difficult to pin down who the culprit is. Bhaiyaji finds a loyal devotee in Bachchan Pande (Akshay Kumar), who’s sent out to find the money. The characters are all complex, going through their own turns of being bad and good, and follow their own set of personal morals that’s interestingly flexible.
Anil plays the baddie to the hilt and has done this likeable gunda act several times over—only Bhaiyaji’s a bit of a dangerous man who also makes you laugh with his desperate yet confident broken English and attention-seeking dressing. Saif, as is rare for him, gives a strictly lukewarm performance. True, his character is the most under-written, but the soul seems lacking here.
Kareena is in the swash-buckling, action-mode avatar and she doesn’t disappoint. As for her size zero frame that has eaten reams of newsprint, and clearly nothing else – it’s disappointing. Her extreme weight loss makes her once pretty face look tired and gangly. And make-up has never been Kareena’s forte anyway. And the bikini scene (yes, there is one), it’s thanda as ice, putting it succinctly. But as usual, you cannot fault her on the performance. She depicts the entire range of her character from anger, emotion, comedy and ruthlessness with marvellous alacrity, even excelling in the action scenes.
And now, saving the best for the last, kudos to Akshay Kumar for stealing the thunder. As the uneducated, raw thug who speaks ‘Kanpuriya Hindi’ and worships Bhaiyaji, Akshay is superb. It is Akshay and Kareena who sizzle in the film and have the best parts.
The humour is enjoyable and you’ll be entertained, even if you don’t laugh out loud. Bhaiyaji’s extended Deewar dialogue translated in his own version of English, with sounds of thunder and lightening in the background, is one example. As is the audacious technique of taking the story forward with characters talking to the audience right in the middle of the story. There’s even a Ramleela sequence, challenging the classic one from Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron—while the classic remains unbeatable, this one doesn’t do too badly either.
The technical aspect contributes enormously to the film, with its accent on stylization. Cinematography by Ayananka Bose (Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Umrao Jaan) is superb, especially when it’s gliding during the songs and when bringing out the beauty of the exotic locations from pristine Greece to dusty Rajasthan. Sound by Rishi Oberoi and Ali Merchant is spectacular. Music by Vishal-Shekhar is good and their Dil Haara is a great number. Editing is effective and understands where to let the scene linger and where to make the cuts snappy.
The film follows an interesting edit pattern, flitting from straight storytelling to going wayward once in a while for fun. Screenplay effectively incorporates the eccentricities of the script, marrying it with the occasional ‘sobby’ clichéd bits. Action by Peter Hain is superlative and the superbly shot action sequences are very important in the film. Costume styling by Aki Narula gets a super-enthusiastic thumps up.
There are some unnecessary bits in the film like the faux rape scene and the Dil Dance Maare song where Kareena, in a frightful blonde wig, looks like a Paris Hilton wannabe. Also, post interval, the film tends to stretch a bit.
Tashan may faintly remind you of Dhoom’s action and humour combo (director Acharya wrote the Dhoom series, little wonder), Omkara (the Bihar landscape and language) and even Kill Bill. Tashan is unapologetically kitschy and you’ll enjoy it for exactly that—recommended for a breezy watch.
Rating: 3 stars