Wazir – A Review

Bejoy Nambiar directs Farhan Akhtar, Amitabh Bachchan and Aditi Rao Haidari in chess inspired revenge thriller Wazir in a story written by Vidhu Vinod Chopra.

 

The story starts with an introduction into Farhan’s idyllic family life where he plays Daanish Ali a Delhi Cop, has a kathak dancer wife Ruhana played by the beautiful Aditi Rao Haidari and an adorable toothless daughter noorie. Disaster strikes when defying all logic he chases down a known terrorist with his daughter in the backseat as his wife is getting her ghunghroo repaired. And this is not the most absurd plot line in the movie.

Farhan amped up on sleeping pills goes on a rampage and kills the said terrorist while the Police are running a parallel operation trying to nab the terrorist alive to get information on the politician-terrorist nexus. Spiralling out of control Farhan tries to kill himself at his daughter’s grave and is stopped from doing that by Amitabh Bachchan. Amitabh Bachchan teaches Farhan Chess and helps him get his life on track and enlists him in his fight to nail the perpetrators behind his daughter’s death.

There is John Abraham playing a Kashmir Cop and Neil Nitin Mukesh playing the eponymous Wazir and while these actors are not exactly brimming with talent, their limited talents are also wasted with a half-baked  plot lines.For what is a short movie it feels overlong and poorly paced. The editing or the lack thereof is really what sinks the ship. For what could have been an intelligent thriller is rendered boring and insipid with its watered down plot and dumbed down narrative. The problem with Bollywood is that it has never owned a Wren and Martin or never attended figures of speech class. While going for Metaphors it ends up doing Simile. While trying to make the narrative complex and interesting using Chess moves as metaphors for calculated moves Daanish must make to help nail the culprits Amitabh ends up speaking out loud everything just in case Farhan doesn’t get it. And the final climax which you can see coming from a mile away is made even more obvious when a Child is asked to lay out the plot in sobbing bursts of storytelling while Farhan holds a gun over the head of a fearsome terrorist. Coincidence is a mark of lazy storytelling and it is on glorious display here.

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While watching a director’s round table with a popular film critic one director made a very important point of how the Indian movies are made with the interval in mind and how that breaks the flow of the story – while that director was speaking of it in defence of intervals and how it helps with long stories here it couldn’t be more unnecessary. For a movie with a total running length of 80 minutes the interval is entirely unnecessary and it manages to deflate whatever little energy the movie manages to build leading up to the said interval. And the other Achilles heel of Bollywood? Pointless songs! The whole movie can be broken down into 2 parts – the one part where nothing really happens in normal speed and with no background score and the other where nothing happens in slow motion with one monotonous song playing in the background regardless of the situation at hand. I almost gasped when at the end they had a song sung by Amitabh playing as the credits rolled and not the overused “Tu Mere Pass”

What could have been slick almost psychological thriller is watered down and made so bland I can’t believe how excited I was when the trailer first released months ago. Amitabh is good as is Farhan but the story is overly simplistic and the non-existent editing and over direction is what kills this story. Want a well written, competently directed and marvellously edited thriller? You’d be better served by rewatching Kahani instead and not waste your time with this tepid mess.

B.A. Pass – A review

First time director Ajay Bahl direct Shadab Kamal and Shilpa Shukla in the B.A.Pass. with the trailers that promised a bold look at coming of age drama and an erotic psychological noir film . What we end up getting is a half-baked, over stylized and a narratively incomplete attempt that leaves a lot to be desired off.

After losing his parents to an accident Mukesh (Kamal) moves in with his aunt and uncle who constantly remind him of what a burden he is on their meager income. Mukesh goes about enduring daily barbs and doing household chores for his aunt when he happens to meet Sarika (Shukla). Sarika lures Kamal in and the movie takes off from there.  The first encounter between Mukesh and Sarika is a little abrupt to say the least. There is no foreplay, no seduction which would make us squirm as we are seeing a supposedly innocent boy being lured into a trap. But that minor misstep aside the pillow talk between Shukla and Kamal is fun and cheeky and gave me hopes that this could deliver on the potential.

In the acting department Shukla has been garnering rave reviews for her portrayal of the strong character that is not afraid to use her sexuality as a weapon. This is the first film I have seen her in after the very impressive Chak De India. Here too there is nothing particularly bad about what she does except that in some of the more intimate scenes she hams it up a little too much for it to appear believable.  As for Kamal he does a better job of being more believable in those intimate scenes. There is intensity to him even in quite scenes and he is someone who clearly has a lot of potential handling complex roles.

Where I found the movie lacking was in the single dimensional treatment of the subject. There are scenes which went on for way too long with no impact on the viewers. The stories of the sisters were mostly forgotten. There are movies that can do with having their running time cut short, in my opinion this movie was missing an entire act where the consequences of the characters action needed to be fleshed out a little more. Based on a short story “The Railway Aunty” the story needed more character development rather than relying on random sex-scenes and chess moves to get the story moving along. Also my perennial gripe with the Indian filmmakers not knowing how to film an intimate scene still continues. We might have written the book on carnal pleasures but when it comes to depicting it on screen we suck real bad (pun may have been intended). This movie was not an entire story in itself it felt more episodic and incomplete. Also the stereotype portrayal of the women Kamal ends up being with is another thing that irked me more than it would to most people because I’ve seen it done better in countless other movies and TV shows, take Hung for that matter. And to underutilize Deepti Naval is a criminal offense.  Also for a movie whose title claims B.A.Pass the character is referred to as 12th pass and he still seems to be going to college, and if the relationship was supposed to grow over the ensuing years of his “education” it was forgotten or left on the editing floors.

The background score by Aloknanda Dasgupta is brilliant and very effective especially when it is nothing more than a loud booming cello bass. I would have walked out had the music not been as great as it was and it did manage to elevate the movie above a  below-average wannabe noir.  The cinematography by Ajay Bahl lends a very Nicholas Winding Refn-ish feel with the Neon lights and the indirect lighting. The visual quality of the film is deserving of a much better narrative then the script by Ritesh Shah.

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When I got up for the national anthem I was surprised to see nearly 70% of the theatre was filled – this on a Tuesday night 11pm show. I thought to myself considering the buzz around the movie the Indian audience is showing up in numbers to encourage such indie movies and that it is a good sign. It only took the first show of skin for the illiterate herd to raise its ugly hyena like cackle.  Seriously we must be amongst the most prude and immature audiences ever. But to those who will contend that I did not like the movie because of the audience let me state that it was offset by the plushest recliners and the most comfortable viewing experience. So I didn’t like the movie because it was just not a good movie.

The only reason I’d recommend anyone to see this movie would be because of the cello bass background score and the Neon-lit cinematography.