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Aditi Rao Hydari,
With the help of a mysterious pill that enables the user to access 100 percent of his brain abilities, a struggling writer becomes a financial wizard, but it also puts him in a new world with lots of dangers.
A couple live a mediocre life and are thrilled to have won an exotic vacation to Fiji & their excitement increases when they get a chance to play "Tell all truth" game for a mind boggling prize money. The game begins and the couple discovers that the game isn't really a game, but is a game of survival. Written by
2013 has begun well: "Table No. 21", the first Hindi film I've seen this year is an excellent start to what I hope will be an exceptional one for cinema.
This film came to movie screens without any fanfare yesterday, with no hugely well-known names apart from that of character actor and noted scene-stealer Paresh Rawal. I was unfamiliar with Rajeev Khandelwal's work until now, but he's earning a name for himself doing unusual, offbeat films, and Tena Desae (weird spelling, but no matter I suppose her name is Tina Desai) debuted last year as Dev Patel's love interest in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel".
A young couple experiencing hard times wins a weeklong stay in picturesque Fiji. On their last night there, they're invited to dinner at a fancy resort. They are seated at Table No. 21, and welcomed with chilled Dom Perignon by the owner. He tells them that apart from the ultra-swanky resort, he runs a web-based game show that boasts eight million computer geek fans. The game sounds easy enough: answer eight questions with just "Yes" or "No", carry out eight tasks linked to the questions, and walk away with 10 million Fijian dollars, which equals Indian rupees 21 crores. Ah, yes, that No. 21 again! One simple rule not to be forgotten: If you lie, you die. Would they be interested in being that night's contestants?
The broke couple cannot believe their good fortune. Within a couple of questions and tasks, it becomes clear that their mysterious host knows a lot about them. Each "Yes" or "No" answer becomes tougher as he forces them into truly sinister terrain. Suddenly the idyllic Fiji landscape takes on threatening hues.
It would be unwise to ruin a taut, truly innovative thriller with more details. The title of the film gains significance when one considers Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which guarantees the protection of life and personal liberty. No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty, except according to procedure established by law.
It's impressive that such a small film has top-notch production values, a classy look, and best of all, thoughtful writing (Sheershak Anand, Abhijit Deshpande, Shantanu Ray Chibber, and Aditya Datt) and excellent performances. Veteran Paresh Rawal creates a multi-layered character one is unlikely to forget. You cannot take your eyes off him as his inscrutable, Machiavellian host turns the screws on the unfortunate game-show participants, while the hapless husband and wife do a fine job of winning our sympathy as their lives unravel before us.
Director Aditya Datt, whose three prior films went unnoticed, deserves kudos for helming this one with a sure, steady hand. Ravi Walia's slick camera work makes the most of the scenic Fiji locations that become more and more foreboding with the film's darkening mood. Editor Devendra Murdeshwar contributes much to the pace and texture of the film, which will stay with you long after the end credits have rolled. This timely film has enormous crossover potential, but because few know it is playing, it might not get the audiences it deserves.
Here's hoping 2013 will be filled with such imaginative, well-made fare.
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