BADLA review: Murder, They Wrote!

BADLA is one of those words that has a duality about it. In Hindi, it can mean ‘revenge’ as well as ‘change’. And in Sujoy Ghosh’s latest thriller, he manages to incorporate both types of Badla into the sweet mix as he brings together the talents of Taapsee Pannu and the evergreen legend Amitabh Bachchan and place them in a room together to create the intended sparks and magic.

Ghosh, thanks to the Kahaani series, has become a trusted name to the ‘thriller’ genre. And therefore the producers (Red Chillies and Azure Entertainment) have got things easy when you have a name like Ghosh to associate with your thriller, an official remake of a 2016 Spanish thriller The Invisible Guest. The first major change Ghosh does here is the gender-swap on his principal characters from the Spanish original.

Though I haven’t seen the original, it does not take much to predict the final outcome of things. If you pay attention to the details, you can sniff it out right away. And that is not because the character of Badal keeps reminding you of it. But because the structure is such that the main portions are set within a confined room, involving just the two major characters. So you know the surprise also has to spring in from this setting. But Ghosh smartly manages to throw in enough curveballs to keep one guessing till the very end, and even throw offtrack every now and then.

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The case:  A crime in a hotel room in Glasgow. A man murdered, while a woman is found in the same room, next to the body. No signs or possibilities of any entry or exit with no presence of a third person.

The prime suspect is the woman of course, who happens to be Naina (Taapsee) , a highly successful businesswoman who was having an extra marital affair with the deceased. With all evidences pointing to Naina, an expert lawyer Badal Gupta has been roped in as a last minute ditch effort to save the client who stands to lose it all personally and professionally.

Badal, who has the reputation of never having lost a case, is determined to win this too before retiring professionally. However to do so, he needs to get to the bottom of the whole story and for which he drops into Naina’s flat where she is under house-arrest to dig up the whole truth of the stories and events around her case. In the three hour conversation that follows, Badal hopes to get Naina to reveal it all, right to the minutest of details that could prove vital to the case.

As we dive in, the audience also discovers how the disappearance of a young man turns also relevant to this whole case. As more questions and answers are poured out, we realise that there is more to what meets the eyes (Naina) and that one needs to look beyond the clouds (Badal) to reach the other side to all this surrounding mystery to the deaths as we navigate through the various versions coughed up.

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Somewhere in the middle of these discussions, the lawyer throws up an observation about his edgy client. That of there being two types of clients – one that thinks that they are smarter , and the one that genuinely is. And what he deduces about Naina holds true for the movie too. Here the makers do ‘think’ that they are smarter, but the truth unfortunately isn’t so.

Acting wise roping in the PINK duo was a smart choice even though they are repeating the lawyer-client act, but with more varied shades. Yet , despite the fabulous artists that they are, and despite carrying the entire thing on their shoulders, they fail to bring in that extra zing that could make their respective roles truly memorable and a stand-out.

Tony Luke, here had a much more impactful outing than the roles I have seen him earlier in his Malayalam films. Amrita Singh emerges the surprise package and gets a meaty role to sink her teeth into, despite her limited screen time. Manav Paul puts in an extended cameo or sorts, while British actor Tanveer Ghani stood out rather oddly amidst all these.

Cinematographer Avik Mukhopadhyay manages to capture the cold, brooding winters of Glasgow hauntingly well, whenever the narration escapes from the confines of the flat.

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The screenplay keeps twisting and turning things occasionally on its head, keeping the audience very much engaged. Also, the screening where I watched it, thankfully came without an interval, which also helped immensely in keeping the audience on tenterhooks right throughout.

While I could give thumbs up to the staging and the way the cards are played out, the same cannot be said about the problematic “reveal”. It also brings me back to the loopholes that the lawyer bring about how characters develop new skills as necessary as the story goes forward. I do realise that the ending is very much from the original version itself. But then again, the original did not have someone as unique and iconic as Amitabh Bachchan in their cast, did they?

In the world of thrills, this is decent enough even though the pay-off might not be one that had me floored like, say a Kahaani. This is a decent enough thriller from Ghosh that ticks the right boxes, and rides on the talents of its lead actors.

Rating :  3  / 5 

 

 

BADLA (2019)

Cast:  Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Amrita Singh, Tony Luke, Manav Kaul, Tanveer Ghani

Directed by Sujoy Ghosh

Adapted screenplay by Sujoy Ghosh/ Raj Vasant

Hathyar (1989) Hindi Movie: J.P.Dutta’s Underrated Tale Of Crime And Violence!

A little boy sits on a rocking horse while his father sings a lullaby to him. Soon the mother joins in and adoringly vows to not let her son go away from her sight. Their idyllic conversation is interrupted by the kid’s uncle who gifts him a toy gun, much against the father’s wishes. The uncle quips that the kid is brave and toys like these are what brave men should indulge themselves with. The father retorts “aaj kal sharafat ko hi kayarta kehte hain” (nowadays decency is what is mistaken for cowardice) and asks the kid to hand over the toy gun to him. But the kid is enthralled by it and refuses to hand it over. We then see shots of a rifle being loaded with bullets and as the person holding it takes aim, his face is revealed. The kid has now grown into a young man, but what has stayed with him is his fascination for the gun. It also hints that this obsession is going to last for a lifelong. This powerful scene marks the opening of J P Dutta’s Hathyar.

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2 States (2014): IIMwaley Dulhania Le Jayenge

RATING: 8/10.

2 States poster and stills_14Chetan Bhagat is a strange phenomenon. He inspires both fierce loyalty and venomous disdain, at once hailed as the savior of Indian English literature and as having brought about its bastardization. Then again, leaders of revolutions, be they literary or political, are always polarizing figures. You can’t get 5 people to agree on whether James Joyce was a genius or a raving lunatic. As for Bhagat’s literary ability, after having read his books, I am more inclined to believe his detractors, who usually demolish him in far crisper and polished language, than is commonly used by Bhagat’s avowed fanbase, who revert to a kind of pidgin Hinglish lingua franca pioneered by Bhagat and his many imitators. But Bhagat’s own forceful affirmation of a kind of homespun anti-intellectualism is what makes such assessment of his literary worth meaningless; you cannot judge him on criteria he does not aspire to fulfill. You might as well just enjoy what he does have to offer.

What is obvious is that while he does lack a sense of history or literary flourish or even unobvious insight, his undeniable appeal lies in his proud championing of the average Indian Joe, or Jai, if you will. His characters have the ring of authenticity, reflecting the hopes and aspirations of India’s burgeoning young middle classes, an often contradictory, mercurial, infuriating and yet inspiring demographic. And this emphasis on story over style is what makes him such an excellent candidate for adaptation to Bollywood’s glitzy screen – Bombay’s purveyors of dreams have enough tashan for the both of them.

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2 States Movie Review : A Better Book by Chetan Bhagat Becomes an Ordinary Movie

Indian author Chetan Bhagat now writes books so that they can be converted into films. Yes, he has written his two latest books, 2 States and Revolution 2020 for the same purpose. As a novel, 2 States could be one of his better works, though I am not sure if it would still be any ruminating literature. Nevertheless, Bhagat does write engaging tales, rather simplistically, and they are able to engage a wide range of readers across the nation. It is no jaw dropping surprise then that they are made into movies. The first promo of the film 2 States was snazzy but thanda. The song promos were released right after and the music overcame the initial setback with much vim. Past few weeks, the buzz about the film has increased transcendentally and the film seems ready for a huge weekend. At some point in its promotional campaign, I could feel that it did not matter anymore if the film was good or not?

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Aurangzeb Movie Review: A Tale Of Men!

AurangazebAurangzeb! The last of the Great Mughals before the empire started on its eventual downfall. A man of great ambition, who let his rage against his father and family dictate all his actions. His ascent to the throne was marked by the blood of his brothers and their allies. The movie attempts to tell a similar tale of a man’s ascent to the throne in modern day Gurgaon through a path of greed, lies, betrayal and blood.Continue reading “Aurangzeb Movie Review: A Tale Of Men!”

Aurangazeb: Trailer


Atul Sabharwal
, the writer of films like Darna Mana Hai, My Wife’s Murder, Phir Milenge etc made his entry into T.V with YRF‘s Powder, a hard hitting T.V series which dealt with an anti narcotics police squad fighting against drug peddlers. Continue reading “Aurangazeb: Trailer”