Featuring the iconic Amitabh Bachchan alongside the esteemed Ben Kingsley, “Teen Patti” is a film crafted by Leena Yadav, recognized for her work showcased at the Toronto International Film Festival. This gripping tale revolves around a wrong math experiment, leading to turmoil, demise, and deep regret.
The plot centers on Venkat Subramaniam, portrayed by Amitabh Bachchan, an Indian mathematician. He’s beckoned to the University of Cambridge by Perci Trachtenberg, played by Ben Kingsley. There, Venkat shares his journey as a math professor from an anonymous college in India, his insights into probability theory, and his knack for winning card games. Venturing to test his probability equation, Venkat plunges into the underground card scene of bustling Bombay with a team of students and a fellow teacher. What begins as an innocent academic venture quickly spirals into a dangerous web of coercion and avarice, proving to be both overwhelming and unavoidable.
Drawing inspiration from the 2008 classic, “21”, a film about bright college students using their intellect to win big at casinos, “Teen Patti” offers a similar premise but is set within Mumbai’s clandestine gaming dens. The movie intentionally avoids delving into the specifics of the probability theory that leads to their massive winnings. This choice by the director aims to use the film as a metaphorical exploration of human nature, and in this regard, it succeeds.
“Teen Patti” skillfully traces the ethical downfall of those participating in the experiment, except the main character, who remains untainted by greed. Seduced by the allure of wealth and the thrill of the game, the participants begin to embody the roles they were merely supposed to play. The soundtrack perfectly underscores this moral decay as suspicion, theft, and blackmail become rampant among the group. Despite Venkat’s repeated attempts to rein in the spiraling situation, it culminates in violence and, tragically, the loss of a student’s life. As a suspenseful drama, the movie keeps viewers on tenterhooks until the very last moment.
One of the standout features of “Teen Patti” is its stellar cast. Beyond the remarkable performances by Bachchan and Kingsley, the film also showcases the talents of seasoned actor R. Madhavan and newcomers Shraddha Kapoor, Dhruv Ganesh, and Siddarth Kher. However, despite the impressive cast and soundtrack, the movie has shortcomings.
The screenplay and editing extend the film’s duration unnecessarily, while logical inconsistencies contradict the otherwise realistic set designs. Some dialogues are so disjointed that they elicit laughter instead of the intended awe. The portrayal of college authorities as strict yet oblivious to the ongoing experiments, weapons, and money within the campus is another glaring inconsistency. The hand signals used by the players are nonsensical and impractical in a real-world setting.
The film’s conclusion is another area of concern. The blameless mathematician is the only one who faces repercussions for the experiment gone wrong, which merely results in him losing a job where his genius was overlooked. Ultimately, he received the highest academic honor from the University of Cambridge for his probability theory, which he had previously abandoned. This oversimplified ending lacks any real consequences or justification for the events that unfolded throughout the movie.
In summary, “Teen Patti,” with its captivating premise and extraordinary cast, had the potential to be truly unique but fell short due to a lack of clarity. In an era where content reigns supreme, the film disappointingly misses the mark on several fronts. However, it’s worth watching for the chance to see two acting powerhouses (yes, I’m referring to Ben Kingsley and Amitabh Bachchan) share the screen and engage in thought-provoking dialogue.
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