Like a train hurtling forward on a startlingly off-beat track, Teen Pattiworks has strange places to go. With a stellar cast—in addition to Bachchan and Oscar winner Ben (Gandhi) Kingsley, there are also cameos by Jackie Shroff, Ajay Devgn, Sushmita Sen and Irfan Khan—Teen Patti offers an interesting premise. While many of mysterious and edgy pieces do just fine as stand-alone elements of a vast jigsaw, when combined, alas, they fall short of a complete puzzle.
The introverted and brilliant math professor Subramaniam (Bachchan) finds it much easier to make sense of his books than of the people around him. Subramaniam’s prodigal gift at deducting probabilities attracts a motley crew of campus geeks, along with their faculty-student advisor Shantanu (Madhavan). Eager to imprint on his off-radar student group the real life applications of his didactics, Subramanian’s finds himself at the center of a secretive ring that invades seedy, remote gambling dens incognito to try their luck at 3-card poker using Subramaniam’s logic. That card games don’t always unfold as planned becomes apparent very quickly and Subramaniam and Co. finds itself ensnared by something more complicated and more dangerous.
With the narrative outlined in second person by Subramaniam’s garden-path chats with Percy Trachtenberg (Kingley), a U.K.-based “expert,” Teen Pattiwould be a standout film if not for some minor flaws. The pacing is brisk, the cast interacts wells, especially after nightly trespasses turn into a murder scheme. Having no claims to originality, Teen Patti is a near frame-by-frame remake of the 2008 Kevin Spacey movie 21 (based on a real-life story from M.I.T.). Despite the flaws, anyone seeking escapist buddy-buddy movie fare will find Teen Patti worthwhile.
Entertainment Quotient (EQ): A