‘Badla’ review: a lesson in mind games

The poster of ‘Badla’   | Photo Credit: Twitter/@BadlaTheFilm

An official remake of Oriol Paulo’s Spanish film, The Invisible Guests, Badla appears to have made very little changes to the original other than switching the gender of its main players and making some shallow and simplistic references to the Mahabharata especially when it comes to the central idea of badla (revenge) and maafi (forgiveness). The film is even set abroad—in Glasgow—because of certain demands of the scene of crime, which perhaps would not have been met easily in India. Getting into the details of this would be injurious to your enjoyment of the film. So, let’s come to just the basics of the story. A top defense lawyer Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan) is brought on board by a successful businesswoman Naina Sethi’s (Taapsee Pannu) lawyer Jimmy (Manav Kaul) to save her from the charges of alleged murder of her lover Arjun (Tony Luke, with charming accent intact).

Allow me to be a little immodest here and say that if you are as smart as yours truly, you’d guess something amiss at the very start. Blame the source material for that but there are bits and pieces of the larger set-up that don’t quite square up, keep niggling at you, and predictably come together in an expected fashion.

  • Director: Sujoy Ghosh
  • Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Manav Kaul, Amrita Singh, Tony Luke
  • Run time: 120.22 minutes
  • Storyline: A top defence lawyer is brought on board to save a successful businesswoman from the charge of murdering her lover

The big reveal gets painfully crummy, its central contrivance utterly implausible. In fact, the entire chain of events is hard to believe in and leaves you asking questions aplenty. Can so many people be so blind and witless? How can the most obvious be looked through? But then, how would the plot keep moving on if it were not for the plot holes and unconvincing twists and turns? Any attempt at logic, would ensure you’d be left with no film at all.

And so you play along. Largely owing to the cat and mouse game between Bachchan and Pannu, their quicksilver actions, reactions and mind games they play with each other and, in turn, with the audience. Their give and take about truth, partial truth, the web of lies, the many versions of truth, about who is speaking the truth and who is not, the multiple perspectives on the same crime—all of it keeps you engaged for most part if you don’t exercise your grey cells too much.

At the heart of it it’s all about perception. Is what you are seeing a 6, or actually a 9. In other words the oft heard adage--“Jo dikhta hai woh hota nahin, Aur jo hota hai woh dikhta nahin” (What you see may not be for real and what’s actually transpiring may not quite be visible). Who then, is manipulating whom?

Bachchan and Pannu are in fine form. Beyond them no other actor is of any major consequence save Amrita Singh who effortlessly steals everybody’s thunder and turns out to be Badla’s big takeaway. Here’s hoping to see her more often on screen.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 9:11:45 AM |

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