'Badla' review: Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee grip in this pacy thriller
Sujoy Ghosh emerges as a skillful storyteller with Badla.
Naina Sethi (Taapsee Pannu) is a successful businesswoman, who has been accused of murdering her lover, Arjun (Tony Luke). Her life has scattered and her husband and daughter have deserted her as the trial picks steam. Her only hope is senior advocate Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan), who hasn't lost a case in his career. After announcing his retirement, this is his last case and he doesn't wish to spoil his spotless record. Jimmy (Manav Kaul) is Naina's lawyer, who introduces her to Badal Gupta.
An official remake of the Spanish film, 'The Invisible Guest', Sujoy Ghosh adapts the original screenplay well in crafting this dialogue-heavy drama. The movie begins with Badal Gupta and Naina Sethi settling down for a conversation in a living room - the place where most of the film is shot.
As Badal is Naina's only hope, he insists that she tell him 'the whole truth and nothing but the truth'. But does she trust him with all the dark past that has transpired in her life, leading to her being accused of murdering her lover? Did she kill Arjun or was she framed into the murder by somebody, as she claims, with a revenge motive? It is up to the Badal to get it out from 'his client'.
Their interrogation is timed for two hours and that's exactly how long the film is. For the next 120 minutes, you are introduced to the different shades of both of these characters. The film hangs on the able shoulders of two powerhouse actors as we are at their mercy to grip the shifting emotions and mood of the thriller. The actors take a few minutes to warm up but get into the element as the story furthers and manage to keep us hooked.
Taapsee starts as a vulnerable murder accused but as the movie progresses, she delivers an array of emotions. Having said that, this isn't her best as we have seen her leave a more lasting impression even in cameo roles. On his part, Amitabh Bachchan is pitch perfect and keeps you immersed in his riddle-laced conversations. Sujoy Ghosh and Raj Vasant localise the screenplay by adding references to Mahabharata and it fits in well. The film follows a back and forth approach, like Sujoy's 2012 mystery 'Kahaani' and could seem lengthy, in spite of its crisp editing.
Seen on the big screen every couple of years, veteran actress Amrita Singh makes meat of the role offered to her. She is a revelation as Sujoy offers her a fleshy, well-written presence, different from the Punjabi mother we have seen her portray in recent times. And we can't ever have enough of Manav Kaul, who dominates with his presence, although he appears fleetingly.
The only drawback of the film is that if you have been paying keen attention, you know where the film is heading. One of the two main characters in the film is straying from the truth and laying traps for the other. While you might be able to guess it midway, you can't be sure till you see it unfold on the screen.
Without a doubt, Badla is a delicately crafted thriller, neatly executed by Sujoy Ghosh. He doesn't just join the dots in the climax but ends the intriguing screenplay spotlessly, emerging as a skillful storyteller.
Badla is recommended for the brilliance of Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu and Sujoy Ghosh. It is a film not to be missed.
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Amrita Singh, Manav Kaul.
Directed by: Sujoy Ghosh