Director: Sujoy Ghosh
Writer: Oriol Paulo/ Story, Sujoy Ghosh/ Screenplay,Raj Vasant/ Dialogue
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Tapsee Pannu, Amrita Singh
Music: Amaal Mallik, Anupam Roy, Clinton Cerejo
On a winter morning a senior man carrying a brief case walks down the street. He checks his wristwatch before reaching his destination and is welcomed by Naina Sethi/ Tapsee Pannu who is just finishing her breakfast. They are meeting for the first time but they look strangely comfortable seated on the dining table next to the window overlooking the street.
Director Sujoy Ghosh is a master of thrillers (Kahani or Kahani 2) and this time Badla is a story of revenge and redemption, rather it is a story of truth and lies or better still half-truths and selective lies.
Like all crime movies there is a murder, some dark secrets and many speculations. Tapsee Pannu discovered in the spot of the murder is the victim and helping her through the dark tunnel is her Jimmy/Manav Kaul, Naina’s college friend and lawyer but as the case turns more complicated a Jimmy feels the need to hire an expert/ Badal Gupta/ Amitabh Bachchan to help his friend. Badal Gupta has never lost a single case in his 40-year-old practice; he can fight the biggest challenges provided his client tells him nothing but the truth. It is a story of legalities but the entire narrative unfolds in a domestic surrounding – very casually without emotional drama! The downside of the film is that it concentrates on just two characters and two locations so after
a point it becomes a strenuous watch. There are frequent flashbacks and flash-forwards and if you are not paying attention you can easily lose the plot.
The merits however outweigh the demerits. Slickly shot and tautly written with believable dialogues, Badla is sharply edited with haunting music and engaging story-telling. It is a story of contemporary India but borrowing from our epic – Mahabharata. To forgive is divine but sometimes it is important to seek revenge and Badla has its version of Kaurav king Dhritrashtra, his companion Sanjay, the reason behind Kurukshetra, Draupadi and the justice giver, Lord Krishna.
All the performances are effective -Manav Kaul in a cameo, Tapsee Pannu who is both volatile and vulnerable, Amrita Singh as always dependable but the film finally belongs to Amitabh Bachchan.
In his interrogation with his client Badal Gupta time and again emphasizes the importance of truth, detailing and homework and all three are apparent in his performance. The actor delivers a character study of minutes detailing in costume, body language/ attitude and props that include files/notepad/ pen and jottings on paper.
This is not a film you can watch casually munching popcorn, it calls for focused concentration or you are going to miss the plot for sure.
I rate Badla with 3 stars.