In my review of Kahaani (2012), (read it HERE) I had said that there is a dearth of high quality, edge-of-the-seat mystery thrillers in mainstream Hindi cinema and the Vidya Balan starrer filled the void. The next thriller I loved after that film to that extent is Badla. It took seven long years!
Interestingly, both are directed by Sujoy Ghosh and released on the same date: 9 March.
Badla is the official remake of the Spanish movie The Invisible Guest (2016). The story revolves around Naina Sethi (Taapsee Pannu). She is a business tycoon staying in London with her husband and daughter. She is accused of killing Arjun (Tony Luke), with whom she had had an extra-marital affair, in a hotel room far away from London.
Naina’s lawyer sends senior advocate Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan) to fight her case. She pleads innocent. According to her, a blackmailer had demanded a large amount of money from her and called her and Arjun to the hotel. But someone killed Arjun and knocked her unconscious. Gupta wonders if he should believe Naina’s version.
The film takes place inside a house in the form of the meeting between Naina and Gupta in a span of three hours. The story keeps going in flashback. The most important ingredient in a mystery thriller is to keep the audience glued. Badla does that exceedingly well. The makers have given the screenplay credit to the writer of the original film Oriol Paulo.
The film also scores high in the dialogues, characterization and the technical aspects.
In addition you are kept guessing continuously. We are given a couple of hints in between about the main mystery, but not enough to become a spoiler. Such thrillers tend to become lukewarm in the second half. It doesn’t quite happen here, although the length could have been reduced slightly post-interval.
The revelation of the main mystery in the end does give you a jolt even if you have almost guessed it. The problem is that it appears a bit far-fetched which might not go with a section of the audience. It worked for me though.
The performances are first rate. Taapsee Pannu has added another feather in her cap after this act. She succeeds in the difficult task of keeping you guessing about her intentions. Amitabh Bachchan also lives up to his image and switches between being intense and funny with remarkable ease.
Taapsee and Bachchan share an impressive chemistry of a different kind. The mind games played by the two keeps you hooked and, at times, in splits.
Despite the presence of the two main characters, Amrita Singh comes out as a winner all the way. Debutant Tony Luke appears at ease despite being around experienced actors. He is a talent to watch out for. Manav Kaul gets noticed despite limited screen time.
Overall: Badla succeeds in satisfying the thriller lover in you. The film has taken a decent opening at the box office. It stands a good chance of earning respectable collections over the days.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Review by: Keyur Seta
Director: Sujoy Ghosh
Producers: Red Chillies Entertainment and Azure Entertainment
Writers: Oriol Paulo, Sujoy Ghosh and Raj Vasant
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Amrita Singh, Tony Luke
Genre: Mystery thriller
Runtime: 120 minutes