In December 1966, legendary director Vittorio de Sica made a comedy called After the Fox, which starred Peter Sellers as a master criminal who pretends to be a filmmaker and under the guise of shooting a film, enlists an entire village in a grand heist.
After the Fox didn’t find many admirers when it was released. The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther called it a clutter of nonsense. Incredibly, 44 Decembers later that phrase still holds true.
Tees Maar Khan, adapted from After the Fox, by writers Shrish and Ashmit Kunder, is disappointingly limp and insistently low IQ. The film has little of the effervescence and flair of a typical Farah Khan film.
Here Akshay Kumar is Tabrez Mirza Khan or Tees Maar Khan, the master criminal who learns to steal even before he is born because his mother constantly watches crime films when she’s pregnant.
Tees Maar Khan is called in to steal 10, 000 kilograms of antiques. He pretends to be a director from Hollywood and convinces a Bollywood superstar Aatish Kapoor, played by Akshaye Khanna, to work with him. Aatish desperately wants an Oscar. The heroine of this film within a film is Anya, played by Katrina Kaif, Tabrez’s bimbette girlfriend who desperately wants to act.
This is rich material for a comedy but the Kunder brothers have sucked the life out it. After the Fox is inconsistent but it also has many moments of inspired madness. Peter Sellers plays the most nonsensical scenes with a perfectly straight face, which only makes them funnier.
In Tees Maar Khan, everyone is overacting as though life depends on it. There is a lot of screaming, grimacing and heaving. And here is a sample of the level of the jokes – Tees Maar Khan as Hollywood director calls himself Manoj Day Ramalan and instead of Jai Ho, him and his hero keep saying: Day Ho.
Tees Maar Khan springs to life in its song sequences. Farah continues to be the consummate choreographer – So, Sheila ki Jawani has a superb, infectious energy. Farah also continues to shoot the best end title sequences in town. In this film, the entire cast, down to the spotboys, win dummy Oscars.
I wish the rest of Tees Maar Khan was as sparkling. Katrina is gorgeous and Akshay Kumar strains every muscle in his body to make you laugh. But the lazy writing does them in. I’m going with two stars.