In the realm of Indian cinema, where imagination knows no bounds, director Sarvesh Mevara’s latest offering, “Tejas,” takes the audience on a wild ride filled with absurdity and unintentional humor. Starring Kangana Ranaut as the titular character, this 118-minute film explores a world where reality and fiction blur in the most outrageous way possible.
Gone are the days when Kangana Ranaut portrayed diverse characters; now, it’s different characters playing her. The meta-ness in “Tejas” feels more like a wish-fulfillment exercise than a profound exploration of her persona. Tejas Gill, an IAF fighter pilot, becomes the embodiment of several ideals: women empowerment, nationalism, politics, patriotism, revenge, justice, and even global terrorism. Her missions seem never-ending, and she saves India until there’s nothing left to save.
The film's plot unfolds In a dizzying sequence of improbable events. Tejas rescues male pilots from a 50,000-year-old tribal-infested island, thwarts a beheading in the desert, and protects a Ram Mandir from extremist attacks, all in a day’s work. Notably, the film includes a Mission Impossible-style stunt involving Indian jets being smuggled into Pakistan on a Norwegian plane, complete with optical illusions and a Pakistani dog held at gunpoint. Tejas’ superhuman feats are as baffling as they are hilarious.
“Tejas” lacks the subtlety of storytelling, often feeling like it wants to wrap up but keeps extending itself. Tejas even adds another climax after the film seemingly concludes, targeting the 26/11 mastermind and delivering a mid-air monologue. The film’s relentless and over-the-top approach is reminiscent of a cricket match interrupted by rain, with the batsman determined to chase down an ever-increasing target.
As the credits attempt to roll, “Tejas” remains hesitant to end, suggesting that Tejas might swoop in to rescue us from the movie itself. In a final climactic monologue, she nearly breaks the fourth wall, urging us to love our country like a mother and treat it like a big bungalow. The film’s end, much like its entirety, remains ambiguous and surreal.
“Tejas” is a cinematic experience riddled with absurdities. Norwegian men speaking in half-Russian and quarter-Italian accents, right-wing anchors showcasing terrorists in a manner akin to a spoof, pilots defying the laws of physics in cockpits, and questionable visual effects are just a few examples of the film’s unintentional hilarity. “Tejas” offers close-ups and quick cuts, attempting to conceal the flaws in its production, and helicopters that fly like they are lego figures in a live-action thriller.
The film takes the audience on a rollercoaster of righteous lectures that prefix with “lectures are boring, yaar” to justify their existence. Runways seem to suffer from identity crises, and the “New India” motto is called out for its filmy nature only to reinforce its significance.
“Tejas” might not be the mature adult in the room, but it is an unruly child that provides plenty of unintentional humor. Although you may find yourself laughing at the film more than with it, it’s an experience that will leave you both bewildered and amused.