Table No. 21 (2013) *MQ*

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An ostensibly happy and loving couple Vivaan (Rajeev Khandelwal) and Sia (Tena Desae) win a free vacation trip to Fiji. While enjoying the exotic locales, they meet Abdul Razak Khan (Paresh Rawal), a mysterious billionaire, who operates a live game website. Khan offers the couple a chance of a lifetime- to win a whopping sum of Rs. 21 crores by participating in a game loosely based on the ‘truth and dare’ game.

Needless to say, the couple is intrigued and tempted and accepts the offer. Though the game seems interesting and fun initially, the rules get weirder as the game progresses and finally, Vivaan and Sia realise that they might not be able to exit the game alive…What happens next? Will the couple escape with their lives? Who is Khan and how does he know everything about the couple’s past? To figure out all this, do watch the movie…

Director Aditya Datt pulls off the innovative concept with élan, as the game as well as the back stories leave you gasping for breath. You might draw parallels with some Hollywood movies, but the message it drives home and the way it terminates makes the viewer in you satiated. While one is itching to describe a few sequences and unravel the course of the film during the penultimate stages, it would be unfair on my part to spill the beans.

The beauty of the film will be to watch it without knowing anything and absorbing it like a sponge, since it’s a film about characters and conflict with a big revelation. I’d like to make a special mention of its writing [story-screenplay: Shantanu Ray and Sheershak Anand; additional screenplay and dialogue: Abhijeet Deshpande], which leaves no scope for loopholes. In fact, like I pointed at the very outset, the writing demands that you stay alert and attentive, else you might lose chunks in the plot. The sole deterrent is its slow pacing in its first hour.

Paresh Rawal gets another author-backed role after OMG – OH MY GOD and though you may label it grey or black on the basis of what you may have witnessed in its promos, the actor sees to it that the character doesn’t get stereotypical or hackneyed thanks to his faultless acting abilities. His character changes colors rapidly, like a chameleon changes colors, taking the film to its peak towards the closing stages.

Rajeev Khandelwal’s choice of movies is worth applauding. The actor cannot be accused of getting repetitive since his choice of movies has been as diverse as chalk and cheese. The talented actor portrays a complex character in this film and I must add, he gets the part spot-on. A persuasive screen presence and effortless acting consistently makes this character work and how! Tena Desae is a revelation. Extremely photogenic, the character must have been a challenge of sorts for the actress and Tena handles it most courageously and confidently, getting into the skin of her character. Hanif Hilal doesn’t get any lines to deliver, but his imposing persona and silence stays with you. Dhruv Ganesh is striking towards the final moments of the film. Asheesh Kapoor is alright.

On the whole, TABLE NO. 21 is a commendable movie-going experience. If you are an extremely choosy moviegoer who watches select first-rate films a year, make sure TABLE NO. 21 is included on your listing. Strongly recommended!

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