When those associated with the film said during the promotional rounds that it is much more than just a game show, I did wonder what was the point behind that. After all, why promote a movie any differently when it is not the true indicator of what really is eventually in store. Well, half way through the film, you start getting a glimpse of why they revealed much lesser than what they actually had in hands. Reason being that 'Table No. 21' turns out to be one of those films where it is actually a task to crack the true suspense.
Of course this is a game about life and death. Rajeev and Tena, a much married couple on a sponsored vacation to Fiji, are lured by a resort owner (Paresh Rawal) who seems to know much more about their life than what the couple possibly knew about each other. While he invites them for this game that could make them richer by 21 crores, the trap is set. While it all appears to be harmless fun to begin with, it is but obvious that there is a lot more than what meets the eye and the film indeed is much more than what the promos suggest.
What works for the film is the fact that it keeps you engaged right from start to the finish. If the beginning portions are frothy, middle portions turn thrilling, post interval is dramatic and ultimately the narrative turns dark before reaching a shocking end. Aditya Datt takes audience through a roller coaster ride where it starts becoming clearer with every passing sequence that smiles would make way for some edge of the seat affair before disappearing completely and ultimately leads to an eye popping experience where you get disturbed by one shocking incident after another that follows.
While the film as a whole grips you, the only factor that could put off a few those portions in the second half where the drama becomes way too tense with some of the scenes not quite for the weak hearted. At times one may close cringe away uncomfortably because the going-ons become too tough to digest. However, even for these factor, Aditya wins good marks as he brings reality on fore instead of shying away by taking a step back. He brings things as they are and even if that means that the film doesn't turn out to be everyone's cup of tea, he at least stays true to his conviction.
It is always a pleasure to see Paresh Rawal at his menacing best and 'Table No. 21' is no different. With not one touch of the usual comic act that he brings to fore, he is a completely different Paresh that you see here. Even his evil act doesn't put you off from him and you want to know more about what he is capable of doing and why he is doing so.
On the other hand Rajeev is as natural as an actor can get in a commercial set up. He looks the character, plays it tremendously well in the current as well as the elaborate flashback sequences, doesn't put on a fake act and well demonstrates varied shades to his character. In fact it is a different Rajeev that you see, especially in the last 30 minutes of the film. Tena, who gives a glimpse of Priyanka Chopra at few places, is a glamorous young woman and she brings it to good use in her frothy as well as dramatic portions. She could also win accolades for one of the boldest bikinis worn by a mainstream female lead.
Speechless is what you get once end credits start rolling for 'Table No. 21'. As you start looking the other way in stunned silence, you gasp for a while before returning to normalcy. That's the kind of heart stopping impact that the film has on you which, despite being sold as a thriller, has much more to it than what meets the eye. This is where the film earns a win for itself because while being entertaining to the core, it also comes with a tag of meaningful, a combination which is rather rare.