‘TEJAS’ REVIEW | 27 October, 2023

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RSVP’s Tejas (UA) is the story of a brave IAF officer. Tejas Gill (Kangana Ranaut) is a passionate IAF officer who loves her country. She is almost suspended for disobeying orders and risking her life and that of her co-pilot, Arfia (Anshul Chauhan), to save another IAF pilot. As luck would have it, the enquiry against Tejas and Arfia is dropped. Instead, she is asked to lead a mission to rescue another IAF officer, Prashant (Vishak Nair), who is held captive by Pakistani terrorists in their country and who is to be killed soon. Even while the rescue operation is underway, a badly injured and tortured Prashant informs Tejas that the Pakistani terrorists have a plan to spread terror at the Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya the same day, within no time. How she becomes instrumental in foiling the plan and also murders dreaded terrorist Khatooni (Mushtaq Kak) forms the crux of the story.

Sarvesh Mewara has written a story and screenplay in the template format. Therefore, there is nothing novel or shocking in the drama as one has seen such dramas in the past too. Tejas Gill’s personal tragedy is one such point. Her back story comes at a point of time when it seems even more routine. Besides, although it is a story about an Indian Air Force pilot and her love for the motherland, the patriotic flavour in it is very less. Emotions are also lacking in this human drama about a brave IAF officer who loves her country above all else. Sarvesh Mewara has written a sketchy screenplay and not bothered to establish important characters. An instance in point is the character of Prashant whom the hero (heroine Tejas Gill) risks her life to save. Perhaps, the weakest part of the screenplay is the climax. In fact, the significance of Tejas’ rescue mission gets diluted the moment the drama about saving lives at the Ram Janmabhoomi temple starts (and goes on concurrently with Tejas’ rescue mission). As if the two simultaneous climaxes were not bad enough, there is a third climax no sooner than these two climaxes get over. The writer may not be aware of how tame the entire drama becomes because of the three climaxes. Even otherwise, the technical point of camouflaging the aircrafts is so difficult for the common man to understand that its genius is lost on them. It rather appears too unreal to be palatable. A rescue mission of this magnitude and requiring such skill ought to have inspired thunderous applause from the audience and moved them to tears, but none of that happens. In fact, the visual effects in the entire rescue mission in the climax are so poor that the enormity of the mission just doesn’t come through. Sarvesh Mewara’s dialogues lack the punch at most of the places.

Kangana Ranaut does a fine job as IAF officer Tejas Gill but the impact of a firebrand performance is missing, probably because of the tame script. Anshul Chauhan is earnest and delivers well in the role of Arfia but she doesn’t get scope to come in to her own. Varun Mitra is average as Ekveer. Vishak Nair is so-so as Prashant. Ashish Vidyarthi lends fair support as the IAF chief. Mushtaq Kak is alright as terrorist Khatooni. Rio Kapadia makes his mark as the RAW chief. All the others have such forgettable and inconsequential roles that none of them makes an indelible mark on the viewers. Rohed Khan (as Sarqalam), Anuj Khurana (as the flight instructor), Ozgur Kurt (as the Norwegian ambassador), Rahul Sahu and Hritik Yadav (as the terrorists), Mohan Agashe (as the Prime Minister), Veenah Nair (as the defence minister), Sunit Tandon (as the Academy teacher), Mohit Chauhan (as Tejas’ father), Archana Mittal (as Tejas’ mother), Aleksander (as the Norwegian co-pilot), Kashyap Shangari (as Wing Commander Vivek), Himanshu Gokani (as the Army chief), Shivam Pal (as Javed), Neena Kulkarni (as Prashant’s mother), Chirag Bhanot (as the guy in the red jacket), Padmaja (as the news reader in Ayodhya), Apoorva Sinha, Kushal Maggo and Amol Biradar (all three as the Ayodhya terrorists) and the rest lend ordinary support.

Sarvesh Mewara’s direction lacks fire. A rescue operation which neither draws applause from the audience nor makes them moist-eyed stands bleak chances of creating an impact. Mewara’s narration suffers badly on that count. Shashwat Sachdev’s music is okay. The ‘Jaan da’ (‘Saiyaan ve’) song is the best. A couple of songs are even boring. Kumaar’s lyrics are quite good. Shashwat Sachdev’s background music ought to have been more impactful. Hari K. Vedantam’s cinematography is quite nice. Action and stunt scenes (by Harpal Singh Barda, Vikram Dahiya and Amin Khatib) lack thrill. Production designing (by Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray) and art direction (Dilip Rokade and Nilesh Vishwakarma) are okay. Aarif Sheikh’s editing leaves something to be desired.

On the whole, Tejas is a dull show as it lacks the fire of a thriller, the warmth of a rescue mission and the patriotic flavour. It will entail losses.

Released on 27-10-’23 at Inox (daily 6 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay by RSVP. Publicity: quite good. Opening: dull. …….Also released all over. Opening was below the mark at most of the places.