No prizes for playing
Table No. 21
Direction: Aditya Datt
Actors: Rajeev Khandelwal, Paresh Rawal, Tena Desae
Table No. 21 is the sort of determinedly silly movie that can make fine actors like Paresh Rawal and Rajeev Khandelwal look foolish.
Echoing films as diverse as Oldboy and Slumdog Millionaire, director Aditya Datt creates a reality game show-revenge saga that gathers some steam in the last act, but by then it’s too little, too late. Anyway, the climax followed by sombre facts is well-intentioned but feels entirely unearned.
Khandelwal and Tena Desae play a young married couple, Vivaan and Siya, who win a vacation in Fiji in a contest. There, they are drawn into a deadly game called Table No. 21, by a stranger — a Mr Khan, played by Paresh Rawal — who, for reasons never explained, wears a purple waistcoat and a bizarre hair-do that includes one snake-like ripple of hair on his otherwise bald head.
The prize money is Rs 21 crore, but the questions that Mr Khan asks and the tasks he sets get increasingly personal and deadly. Until it becomes obvious to the couple that they are being played, rather than playing.
The half-way interesting premise is hobbled by the lame performances and dialogue. Mr Khan keeps repeating the one rule of the game: If you lie, you die. And at one point he declares, in a faux creepy voice: Secrets are sexy.
All of which makes it very hard to take any of this seriously. If the film works on any level, it is as an advertisement for Fiji, where much of it was shot.
Datt gives us a guided tour of the far-flung country, complete with helicopter shots, speedboat rides and even a seaplane. And if you still don’t get it, Siya spells it out: ‘I love Fiji. [And then, for good measure] I love this place.’
I wish I could say the same about this film.