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Badla review: Amitabh Bachchan – Taapsee Pannu impress, but Amrita Singh is the surprise package

Badla review: Amitabh Bachchan – Taapsee Pannu’s film is a taut thriller that’ll keep you guessing till the end

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badla review amitabh bachchan taapsee pannu engaging first half

There are challenges in remaking a film especially if the film happens to be a crime thriller or a whodunit murder mystery. The fact that the original film is easily accessible on the digital platform is no consolation either. But director Sujoy Ghosh overcomes these hurdles and manages to keep the audience riveted to their seats, even the ones like us who’ve see the original Spanish film Contratiempo (The Invisible Guest) from which Badla has been adapted. Of course there are characters that have been switched, but fifteen minutes into the film and Sujoy manages to make you forget that you have seen the original. The director had earlier shared that in this day and age of the internet and whatsapp, the element of mystery is anyway lost post the first show of the film. But it’s the journey to the end that should be exciting. Well, Sujoy, exciting and gripping the journey of Badla definitely is.

What Badla is all about? Naina Sethi (Taapsee Pannu) is a successful businesswoman, accused of the murder of her lover Arjun Joseph (Tony Luke). Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan) is a senior advocate, who is hired by Naina’s best friend and lawyer Jimmy (Manav Kaul) to take up her case and defend her. Gupta drops by at Naina’s house, where she is living alone under house arrest, her husband and daughter having left her earlier after finding out about her extra-marital affair. Badal Gupta is said to be the best in business and has never lost a case in 40 years of his practice – a fact reiterated in the film several times over. But while Naina admits to having an extra-marital affair with Arjun and being blackmailed for it, she steadfastly denies killing him, even as all evidence points towards her as the killer. It is during their interaction that more skeletons spill out of the closet. There’s more to the case than Naina would like the police to find out about. Layer by layer the mystery unravels as other characters come in with equally questionable and justifiable intentions through a lot of to and fro of flashbacks.

Yay: A large part of the film relies on the dialogue-heavy interaction between Taapsee and Bachchan and it makes for a strong backbone of the film. Both Taapsee and Bachchan excel in their roles and keep you engaged. Their conversation is believable, edgy, and at times bordering on humour. The dialogues are well-written and maintain a constant tempo throughout. Sujoy keeps the intrigue factor high throughout and the suspense builds up slowly and steadily. But the surprise package of the film is Amrita Singh. Though she kick-starts on a note that seems too garish given the tone of the film, her character soon emerges as one of the strongest and you can’t wait for her to keep returning into frame. Her character evokes empathy and sympathy in parts. What works well here is that the director doesn’t delve deeper into Naina’s equation with her husband and so steers clear of the melodrama involved. The background score and the location (shot in Scotland) blend and enhance the thrill element effortlessly.

Nay: The film gets predictable in parts and there are minor bloopers that stand out given the fact that there is so much attention to detail given otherwise. Like the scene where the cops break into the hotel room where the murder has taken place: The police officer says that he is arresting Naina on charge of murder without actually confirming if the man lying in a pool of blood is really dead or just injured. Also at some point, the many layers peeling off one by one get tiresome. Luckily, the saves come in form of Amrita Singh’s Rani Kaur there. Although Badla does not lack in holding the audience in grip of the thrill, it is not a nail-biter either.

CineBlitz verdict: The element of mystery is maintained right till the end and there are enough twists and turns to keep you hooked. The director has treated it intelligently and the performances reflect that too. There’s no rush to prove anything, and there’s no melodrama. Taapsee in fact is so nuanced an actor that she keeps you on a tight leash when it comes to developing any feelings for her character. Beautifully balancing between the wrong and the wronged, she matches the high notes set by the veterans Amitabh Bachchan and Amrita Singh. Badla gets it right in the genre, so it’s a thumbs-up from us.

Rating: 3 stars

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