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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



O Teri, Review of the Indian Hindi film

O Teri

In all fairness, the title should have been a giveaway, and one should be prepared for crass, senseless, tasteless fare. If you weren’t, you are yourself to blame. ‘O teri ....’ is a phrase that, when usually completed, means an obscenity in the Punjabi language, which is a lot in use in the Mumbai film industry. So, if you want to be merely suggestive, without going the whole hog, you just say, ‘O teri!’ leaving the rest to fertile imaginations.

Salman Khan has presented the film, produced by his sister Alvira and brother-in-law Atul Agnihotri. Atul has written the additional screenplay and dialogue. Alvira shares the costumes credit too. That Salman really cares for his family is very obvious, otherwise why would he come in at the end and dance with the boys to a hit number, adding star value to a film that has little else in terms of value? On the part of the production team, they weave in plugs for the generous man in the shape of the names of his films (listed as a menu at a ramshackle eatery, a ‘dhaba’) and characters wearing his clothing brand, Being Human.

Physically modelled after Salman and brother Sohail (also an actor-producer), the lead characters in O Teri are called PP (Pulkit Samrat) and AIDS (no typo; played by debutant Bilal Amrohi). The inseparable friends work for a television channel run by an hour-glass figured siren named Monsoon (no typo, Sarah-Jane Dias). PP is infatuated with Monsoon and fantasises about her while AIDS has a thing going with Russian Tina (Iulia Vantur), who has been conned into believing that he is the advisor to the Indian Prime Minister. The three of them cross paths with highly corrupt politicians Khwaja (Anupam Kher) and Kilol (Vijay Raaz), while the svelte ‘fixer’ (Mandira Bedi) acts as an intermediary in facilitating multi-million rupee scams, mostly involving a greedy contractor (Murli Sharma).

Showing no sense of proportion, O Teri meanders from puerile jokes to heavy doses of Haryanvi language to thinly-veiled swear words to ill-positioned songs (one of them is an ode to female butts, perhaps a tribute to Ricky Martin’s ‘Shake your bon bon’) to a long-running track about a corpse being carted around, directly lifted from Pas de Problème (No Problem, the French film that also inspired an Indian comic hit, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro). ‘Monsoon’ is a literal translation of Barkha, the first-name of one of India’s most famous TV personalities. There is an insider joke about Bejan Daruwala, who has been writing astrological columns in Indian newspapers.

Director Umesh Bist did his post graduation from the Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, India, and has since produced and directed many short films, documentaries, ads and television serials. This is not the break that will add feathers to his cap. Under his command, almost all the male characters go over the top and there seems to be nothing like logic or continuity for a major part of the film. A few laughs and some surprises are not enough to carry the film. Of the four female characters, Sarah Jane Dias (Femina Miss India 2007, Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum), the 5’9”, leggy Bangalorean, has the meatiest role. She is easy on the eye, and uninhibited in embarrassing moments. Mandira is graceful, which manner camouflages her character’s sinister designs. Himani Shivpuri as a village Mom is fine, but her character is a piece of poor writing. Iulia Vantur has little to do in her cameo, except look sexy and gullible. Manoj Pahwa and Razzak Khan are wasted in time-separated comic (read ‘pathetic’) similar scenes, shot at the same location, though Pahwa becomes some sort of hero at the end.

Delhi lad Pulkit (best known for the TV serial Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi) might have to rank this venture as another failure, à la Bittoo Boss. Bilal is legendary director Kamal Amrohi's grandson and the son of film-writer Tajdar Amrohi. His great genealogy, however, does not translate into a great performance. Bilal is amateurish, even beginner-like. Granted he is a beginner, but if he has latent talent, he could have put in more training and hard-work. Vijay Raaz gets the most laughs, for his abuse-laden Haryanvi language, though credit must be given for his acting skills too. Anupam Kher and Murli Sharma are cast in roles that just about any actor with basic ability could essay. Kher, in particular, is wasted, for the umpteenth time.

Neeti Palta, stand -up comedian and former Creative Director at an advertising agency, who co-wrote the film, is an alumnus of Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication (SIMC), Pune. She will have to do better before SIMC can be proud of her. 

Rating: *


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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