Through the eyes of all the hidden cameras and the anchor Mr. Khan(Paresh Rawal), we the audience see one of the tautest thrillers of this year unfold on the screen with ferocity and aplomb. Some scenes in the movie are bold beyond the general convention of Bollywood and will shake to the core on numerous occasions.The story unfolds at a breakneck speed leaving the audience exasperated on multiple occasions. Having said that, the screenplay is seamlessly woven leaving very little unanswered. The one question which does remain unanswered is Mr. Khan’s identity and occupation. That I believe we have to accept as the most intriguing part of the mystery. The short runtime of 1 hour 40 minutes will leave no room for the audience to get finicky about brief patches of boredom.
Siya and Vivaan live a less than satisfying life and we come to know from their little chit chats that Vivaan has just lost his job. However, by a slice of luck, they win an exotic holiday to Fiji where they are further surprised when on the day of their anniversary they land with a chance to participate in a game known only as Table No. 21 and hosted by the mysterious Mr. Khan. Faced with an opportunity to win 21 crores as prize money, the couple give in to their desires. The show seems like their one-off chance out of their miserable existence. However, there are rules to this game and just one at that. If you lie you die and you cannot quit the game. As the couple gets deeper and deeper into the game, they realized the traits of their partners which they didn’t know existed. More than that they start realizing that Mr. Khan might know a little more about them than they expected. As Khan starts tearing through layer after layer of their lives, Siya and Vivaan are left trying to put together the broken fragments of their life and also find out what Table No. 21 is all about.
The narrative starts off with a sudden suicide which is captured by a handy-cam and then transmitted to a site with a header reading Table No. 21, giving us ominous signs about the apparently harmless game. We are then introduced to the world of our protagonists who are traveling to Fiji. Within the next 20 minutes we are into the game with the first question thrown at the two contestants. With every question and every dare, an uncalled-for period of the couple’s life is brought forward which the two remember through flashback footage shot with light sepia tones giving it a surreal feel. With the narrative ramming forward, twists and turns are hurdled at us every 10 – 15 minutes. The surprises are for real and unlike anything which might have even a slight taste of repetitiveness.
Rajeev Khandelwal and Tina Desai turn in authoritative performances heavily backed by a gem of a script. Their horrors are real and the metamorphosis that the characters go through through the length of the movie is enjoyable to watch. Their awe at every new discovery about their counterparts and the final round of questions (which is the climax of the film) will leave the audiences asking for more. The scene where Vivaan is forced to shave Siya’s head, the scene where Vivaan has to rush against time to save Siya’s chastity and the final disclosure will leave the audiences perplexed. Table No. 21 is one hell of a ride. Paresh Rawal is in his element, playing the saint sinner. His portrayal of Khan is both convincing and chilling at many points.
The music and the background score of the movie are breathtaking. The picturesque locales of Fiji are effectively captured by the cinematographer and finely edited to provide a satisfying viewing experience. The editing had to be flawless here to make a compounded impact and Devendra Thundershower is successful in achieving that. For all those who have seen Chitkabrey, Table No. 21 may give a feel of deja vu but this movie is a much better attempt with a tightly written script and wonderful performances. Table No. 21 deserves a view. It’s one of those rare Bollywood films that will captivate you not for the stars or songs or props or fights but for the reason why we go to cinemas. STORY!!!
Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)