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Could have played it better

Could have played it better
When a game comes with only one thumb rule, ‘You lie, you die’, how tough could it possibly be? Rs 21 crores on the line and a couple who could either win it all or die trying. Aditya Datt sets a gripping mood for Table No. 21. A smarter twist to this tale is the statement at the very beginning of the movie that informs that in the Indian Constitution, Article 21 is about ‘Right to Life’.

When a happy couple Vivaan (Rajeev Khandelwal) and Siya (Tena Desae) come to Fiji for a holiday, they are expecting an all expenses paid honeymoon of sorts. But they cannot be more mistaken. Fate brings them face to face with Khan (Paresh Rawal) and they get seduced into playing a game Khan calls Table No. 21. A live game that is being filmed and shown online across the world fetching millions of hits.

While Vivaan is out of a job and Siya cannot resist the lure of all that money, the couple sign the agreement a tad bit too fast.

Khan’s game is actually rather simple — eight questions that can be answered only with a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ and accompanied tasks with those eight questions. Lie detectors are tied on their wrists and breaking the rules mean paying the price.

The initial questions are easy and tasks play soft on the couple who seem perfectly in sync with each other. But as the amount climbs higher, the questions and tasks get tougher and then there comes a point when there’s no looking back.

The ringmaster Khan clearly knows way more than the couple are aware of, and Table No. 21 is not a Candyland. There comes a moment in the movie when both Vivaan and Siya are desperate to leave the money and just save themselves. But Khan is in no mood to let them go so easily.

As the questions near their countdown and tasks border life-threatening situations, Vivaan and Siya stand at crossroads where their marriage, love and beliefs have been tested to the limits and they stand shattered. Even suicide won’t let them off, Khan just won’t let it happen.

Table No 21
comes from a dark cold scar of revenge and psychological trauma that Datt takes time to develop. The pain runs deep and surfaces as cruel twists in the the game the couple is made to play. The moot point of Table No. 21, as a movie, is exceedingly powerful. But the plot structuring is loose and feels very contrived. The movie frays at the climax as well as at the edges.

Khandelwal is known for his out-of-the-box roles, but in this movie, he fails to impress. Tena Desae is simply an eye-candy and that too not a very satisfying one. Paresh Rawal is almost the grandmaster but we have seen much better of him this year itself — try Oh My God!. The final scene which is perhaps the most powerful, has all the actors failing it. What could have saved Table No. 21, undoes it.

Table No. 21
comes with a strong message, but the impact is not hard-hitting enough. Datt has lost the plot somewhere.

We give it two stars for the thought, and another half for Paresh Rawal and Khandelwal. This game could have been better played.
Jhinuk Sen

Jhinuk Sen

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