Himesh Reshammiya is a gutsy man. It takes courage to do what he has been doing since 2007, exposing himself to public ridicule by starring in film after film, only to be minced to bits by critics while even his fans gradually wander away.
His ‘acting’ debut in Aap Kaa Surroor – The Moviee – The Real Luv Story turned out to be a box-office hit on the strength of those very fans, people who have enjoyed his work as a music composer over the years, and were keen to see him before the camera in a full-fledged film role. Sadly, this initial success encouraged him to ‘act’ in more moviees (his spelling, not mine). Teraa Surroor is one such endurance test for viewers.
This is the story of an Indian chap called Raghuveer (Himesh) whose girlfriend Tara Wadia (Farah Karimi) is caught in Ireland with drugs in her possession. She is convicted, and to prove her innocence, Raghu must find Anirudh Brahman, the faceless stranger who befriended Tara on Facebook and invited her to that country.
Also in the picture: Raghu’s Mummy (Shernaz Patel), Kabir Bedi playing a top gun in the Indian police, Naseeruddin Shah as the incarcerated crook Robin B. Santino who comes to Raghu’s aid, a lawyer called Elle (Monica Dogra) in Dublin who is clearly attracted to men old enough to be her Granddaddy since her husband Rajveer, the Indian ambassador to Ireland, is played by veteran director/actor Shekhar Kapur.
For the record, it is evident that a good deal of money has been spent on Teraa Surroor. Almost the entire film appears to have been shot abroad, no expense has been spared on the casting of the Indian supporting actors, and the production design, cinematography and sound design are top-notch. Inexplicably though, the foreigners in bit parts are – as has been the norm with Hindi cinema for decades now – uniformly laughably bad.
Actually, that is an understatement: they are so tacky that they lend moments of passing enjoyability to an otherwise dull film. Bollywood really really really needs to find a better agency for white extras.
That being said, money can buy you good character actors, foreign locales and talented technicians, but I’m willing to bet that even the combined bank balances of Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, Amancio Ortega and Warren Buffet would fail to induce Himesh’s facial muscles to move.
In all fairness, the singer-composer-‘actor’ cannot be accused of maintaining the same expression on his face throughout the film. The truth is that he does not manage even one.
He is not Teraa Surroor’s only failing. This is the sort of film that feels the need to spell out every detail for the audience. When a character tells us that X befriended Y on Facebook, the next shot is of X typing a Facebook message. When Robin tells Raghu he must learn the map of Dublin well, we are promptly shown a map of Dublin the very next moment. You must be familiar with your getaway vehicles, Robin adds. Cut to shots of Raghu with cars. This happens so often in the film, that it almost becomes amusing.
In the midst of all the back and forth in the story, we get several in-your-face, occasionally even contextually irrelevant efforts to cash in on the hyper-nationalism plaguing our political discourse these days. In one randomly placed scene, a couple of shooting instructors in Dublin (more of those bottom-of-the-barrel extras) taunt an Indian man for being useless with a gun.
They make snide remarks about how you just need to ask India’s neighbours about our incompetence in that department. When Raghu strolls over, these two mockingly assume he cannot understand English. Instead, he coolly fires several rounds from a gun and hits his mark each time – of course – then lectures those cheeky firangis about desi prowess in fluent English.
A desi hero in a foreign country admonishing a random racist firangi in public in impeccable English, a language that the random racist firangi assumed our hero does not know – this is such a Hindi film cliché now that you can see it coming from a mile.
Elsewhere, Raghu tells his girlfriend that he does no wrong and that his murderous, extra-legal activities should all be attributed to his love for India. Oh ok, if it is done in the name of desh prem, then I guess it is all right.
Still elsewhere, before exterminating an enemy of our desh, he gets the fellow to shout a slogan in favour of Bharat Mata.
Thump your chests, wave the flag furiously and sing a patriotic song or two, people. India has arrived, Bollywood style!
If mainstream Hollywood filmmakers diss the entire world to make America look good, then it is clearly the job of Bollywood filmmakers to make us look good by portraying all foreigners as brainless twits. The final climactic revelation in Teraa Surroor is not entirely uninteresting, but the embarrassing foolishness of the Irish authorities up to that point ensures that it is too late by then to salvage the film.
This is not MSG-grade poor quality with cheap production values. No no, Teraa Surroor’s abysmal quality is accompanied by a glossy package and music that is hummable even if unmemorable, generic Himesh material.
Even the star’s blank face is placed atop a well-sculpted, muscular body, achieved no doubt at a considerable cost. He poses around in ganjis throughout the film to show off the results.
Now if only gyms had machines to build up acting muscles, there would be hope for him.
Allow me to summon up my inner Arundhati Roy for an appropriate simile to describe Teraa Surroor: this film is as flat as Farah Karimi’s enviably slim waist, as bland as Maggi Noodles without the Tastemaker and as pointless in its existence as the human appendix.
A moment of silence please, to honour the bravery of those who made Teraa Surroor.