Star cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Ben Kingsley, R. Madhavan.

Plot: Maths genius Amitabh Bachchan’s theory on probability is tested in gambling dens of Bombay. Bachchan, Madhavan and a group of their students make quick money but then, things go terribly wrong.

What’s Good: Frankly, nothing except the ‘Neeyat’ song.

What’s Bad: The abstract script.

Verdict: Teen Patti will find it difficult to complete even teen din ka run at the theatres.

Loo break: The entire film except the sexy ‘Neeyat’ song.

Hinduja Ventures and Serendipity Films’ Teen Patti (UA) is a pseudo-intellectual thriller about a reclusive mathematician and how his theory of probability and randomness is misused in gambling before it fetches him a prize from Cambridge University.

Venkat Subramaniam (Amitabh Bachchan) is a reclusive professor in a college in Bombay. He is a brainy mathematician but somehow, his theories never manage to make their mark because of which he doesn’t get any award. After a lot of research, he develops the theory of probability and randomness and tells his colleague, Prof. Shantanu (R. Madhavan), about it. Prof. Shantanu tells Prof. Venkat to test the theory out in the real world. Shantanu believes that Venkat’s theory could crack the card game, Teen Patti, because of which they could rake in the moolah. Along with a few of their students, the two professors explore some underground gambling dens of Bombay and, using Venkat’s
theory, win card games.

However, a blackmailer comes into Venkat’s life because of which life is never the same again. With Venkat, Shantanu and four students being sucked into the game of cards and unable to control their greed, they realise that things could go awry. And they do go awry when one of the students – Vikram – commits suicide.

Prof. Venkat tells Perci Trachtenberg (Sir Ben Kingsley), whom he meets in London, all about his
theory and how he had misused it, leading to the death of his student. But Perci understands that Venkat’s theory in essence questions the idea of what is random and of what is fated. Perci initiates the process of redemption for Venkat.

The story, written by Shiv Subramanyam and Leena Yadav, is hardly the kind that would interest the average film goer. The screenplay (Shiv and Leena) is so abstract that even if the story were to appeal to a thin segment of the public, the screenplay would put it off. All talk about the theory of probability and randomness is so technical that it would bore the audience, if not scare and irritate them. It seems rather unbelievable that a reclusive mathematics genius would so easily heed his colleague’s advice and agree to try out his theory in seedy gambling dens. There is nothing about the dens which could not have been replicated by Venkat and Shantanu, which means they could have as well tested the theory at home. All they needed to do was to have involved around 20 to 30 students instead of the four they did, and set up gambling tables where they could have played the game of Teen Patti, and Venkat could then have proven his theory in much the same way as he did in the real gambling dens. By doing that, Prof. Venkat would not have at least put his life as also the lives of his students in danger. And frankly, Prof. Shantanu may have wanted to make a fast buck by using Prof. Venkat’s theory in the gambling den, but why would the latter oblige him by jeopardising his own reputation? It is not even as if the reclusive Prof. Venkat was greedy for money. The unfortunate part is that while the writers have not even tried to answer this question, this very question crops up in the viewer’s mind and keeps nagging him till the end, diluting, in the process, the impact of everything that follows.

There are many other glitches in the screenplay too. When Vikram’s money is found to have been robbed by his room-mate, nobody even bothers to ask Vikram from where he had got so much money. The track of the blackmailer is hardly terrifying so that the threat to Prof. Venkat’s students looks fake. The whole angle of the gambling den is treated in such a way that one would get the impression that the only use of Prof. Venkat’s theory was in a gambling den. Surely, that must never have been the intention of the writers.

All in all, the script is abstract and, therefore, doesn’t involve the audience or touch them. Even Vikram’s suicide leaves the viewer completely unconcerned. It is because of this reason that Prof. Venkat’s tears in the climax, during his award acceptance speech at Cambridge, don’t have half the desired impact.

Amitabh Bachchan acts ably. Sir Ben Kingsley is reduced to being a mere listener as Bachchan narrates his tale. In other words, Kingsley has been wasted. (While some prints have Ben Kingsley’s dialogues in English, a majority of the prints in India have his dialogues dubbed in Hindi by Boman Irani.) R. Madhavan does a fine job. All the four newcomers make impressive debuts. Shraddha Kapoor (as Aparna) gives a free performance. Siddharth Kher (as Siddharth), Vaibhav Talwar (as Abbas) and Dhruv Ganesh (as Vikram) are natural. Raima Sen has a very brief role and she is good in what she does. Mita Vasisht leaves a mark and evokes laughter in the single scene in which she appears. Saira Mohan is okay. Shiv Subramanyam and the others lend the required support.

Leena Yadav’s direction is no better than the abstract script co-written by her. She needs to understand that pseudo-intellectual stuff like the one on offer is neither under- stood nor appreciated by the audience. Salim-Sulaiman’s music is okay. The ‘Neeyat’ song, picturised (by Ashley Lobo) on Maria Gomez, is racy and very appealing but the other songs are okay. Aseem Bajaj’s camerawork is very nice. Editing (Hughes Winborne and Kaushik Das) should have been crisper.

On the whole, Teen Patti is too abstract for the audience and will, therefore, be rejected at the box-office.

– Komal Nahta

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