I had been planning a blog post for a pretty long time regarding the issue of forgiveness. Watching this movie has provided me the opportunity for that through its review. Apparently a HATKE thriller, this movie has, by default, hit upon the issue of realization of one’s error and the other’s agony on account of that. People commit not mistakes but blunders, not errors but sins, behave in not insensitive but sadistic ways. But ! How many of them ever realize their errors ? Very few. Very very few indeed. I have seen it and felt it as well in my own life through my own suffering in the hands of several people who might not have realized their misdoings till the moment of writing of this review. Then who deserves forgiveness whose glory is eternal and sung every now and then (for the victim only and not for the offender) ?
Table No. 21 (2013) deals with this issue but this fact is known only in the climax when the truth behind all the happenings during the movie is revealed. Frankly speaking, I feel that more or less the same idea worked behind movies like Zinda (2006) and Kidnap (2008). However, Table No. 21 is different from them whose script has been woven through a game-show which is telecast live on internet. I have not tried to ascertain whether this idea is an original one or a lift from some Hollywood movie. It’s not important either because the movie is just very very good.
The way in Agatha Christie’s masterpiece novel – And Then There Were None and in the Hindi movie – Gumnaam (1965) which was its celluloid adaptation, the would-be victims are allured by the would-be murderer through a free-holiday abroad so that they reach the place which is going to be the death-hole for them, the same way the lead pair of Table No. 21 (Rajeev Khandelwaal and Teena Desai) are trapped by the mastermind (Paresh Rawal) who calls them to Fiji by keeping them under an impression that they have won the trip under a scheme. Considering themselves as lucky to enjoy the things they could only dream of prior to that, they land where the mastermind wanted them to land. And then they are further allured to play a game show titled as ‘Table No. 21’ through its whooping prize money of around 21 crores of rupees. The catch in the show is that they cannot leave the game in between and the tagline of the show is – ‘If you lie, you die’. And then going through the rounds, one after another, the husband-wife duo suffer a lot out of their original greed. When the truth comes out in the end, they are taken aback and then realize what a shameful sin they had committed in their past.
Table No. 21 is a spellbinding thriller. A bit slow in the first half but that’s required for the build-up of the second breathtaking half. There are mainly three characters only plus the main sidekick of the apparent villain who does not speak a single word in the movie but whose presence is felt throughout. Flashbacks have been used to link the present happenings to the past of the main characters which I found as somewhat boring, still very useful for the understanding of the narrative. When I assessed the movie on an overall basis, I was able to find some potholes in the script and some unreliable things. All the same, the writers should be given credit for penning a fast, mesmerizing screenplay.
I had seen the debut movie of the director Aaditya Datt – Aashiq Banaya Aapne (2005) and despite the fact that all the reviewers had termed that movie as trash and nothing but only trash, I had liked it. Fortunately, this time the reviewers have been kind enough to give this young director his due recognition who has done his job well. With a high production value (beauty of Fiji scattered like anything in different frames), the total presentation of the movie is simply superb. The movie appears to be treading the path of Slumdog Millionaire (2008) and the TV show – Sach Ka Saamna (hosted by none other than the hero of this movie) but once this small movie (105 minutes only) is over, you can contrast this with them and conclude that it’s different.
The movie contains only two songs which run in the background. They are good whereas the background score is just perfect (the credit for the music has been given to Neeraj Shrivastava and Gajendra Verma). Technically the movie is up to the mark. The actions and thrills have been executed nicely though this movie is not action-oriented. The undercurrent of thrill, sensation, fear and above all sentiments makes it special. The ending scene containing repentance of the participants of the so-called game and expression of grief and anguish of their host moves the spectator deep within and makes him / her leave the theatre with a heavy heart. Whether the hero is actually the hero, whether the heroine is actually the heroine and whether the villain is actually the villain; will be known to you only when everything is over (for you and not for the characters of the story).
Performances are good. Paresh Rawal takes the cake and the young actors shown in the flashback when the movie is undergoing its finale have also done superbly. Teena Desai is a skilled actress and I had loved her performance in Yeh Faasley (2011). She has done well here also. Rajeev Khandelwaal is also a good actor and barring some odd scenes, he has also done justice to his role. The bearded sidekick of Paresh Rawal who keeps on moving alongside the actions of his master throughout the movie, keeping a stony face and without uttering a single word from his mouth, has also impressed me very much.
Table No. 21 is titled as such because the players who answer the questions put to them are made to sit around a table numbered as 21 and perhaps because the total prize money for them is Rs. 21 Crore. However the end informs that Article 21 of the Constitution of India which provides Right to Life and Liberty to all the citizens of India lies in its background. This thriller of a different genre is not everybody’s cup of tea. If you are fond of taut thrillers sans comedy, romance etc.; then only you will like it. The movie has touched the issue of ragging which is now a crime punishable by imprisonment in India but till a few years back, this vice was rampant in schools and colleges, swallowing several innocent young lives. And the filmmaker has made the audience realize the macabre after-effects of ragging very effectively.
One subtle message of this movie is to stay away from greed which may land you into unimaginable troubles. Mahatma Gandhi used to say – ‘Mother Earth has enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed’. Table No. 21 bares this truth before the audience.
Before signing off, I come back to the original issue once again. Who deserves forgiveness ? So many posts, blogs, PP presentations, tales, articles and even books have been written singing the glory of forgiveness. It’s a great virtue, no doubt. But it is good for the forgiving person who has been the sufferer in the first place. If the offender does not realize his / her error of hurting / harming the victim, what’s the use of forgiveness ? I firmly believe, forgiveness is deserved by those only who realize their error / sin and repent for that, going for penitence. If one does not realize his / her error / sin and does not repent, then the victim may opt for forgiveness, the Lord should not. Poetic justice should prevail and adequate punishment should be meted out to such insensitive sinners.
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