Synopsis – A traumatized police officer is befriended by a grieving father who is being threatened by mysterious forces linked to terrorism.
My Take – Director Bejoy Nambiar made a strong debut in the Hindi film industry as a director with the awesome ‘Shaitan’ a few years back. Then he made an ambitious dud in the form of ‘David’ which was honestly not that bad. Now he’s back directing a Vidhu Vinod Chopra production not only starring Amitabh Bachchan but also the choosy Farhan Akhtar. So expectations are bound to be moderately high for this one. Does it deliver on its promises and start the year on a high? Well no! It’s only a few days into the new year, but looks like we have a leading contender for the most ludicrous screenplay of 2016. A thriller is like a chess game; it’s only fun if the opponent plays some brilliant unpredictable moves. Unfortunately for this film, which ironically is based around chess, the script offers very predictable moves, which we can easily guess even if you have half a brain. Not only that, the film even foretells its moves much before it actually makes them (the scene that establishes why Danish meets Panditji, because the latter ‘lost’ his wallet at the graveyard is the biggest giveaway). Bejoy covers the script’s secrets with a see-thru blanket. Most unforgivable is the way how he treated the Welfare Minister’s character. This was one character that could have been shrouded in mystery, but instead has his cover blown up quite early in the film. The titular character’s mystery also, despite the impressive buildup, turns out to be a predictable letdown. The film is filled with convenient loopholes like how a suspended cop manages to use police resources so much like tapping a minister’s phone call, organizing nakabandi and also how one particular character manages to hoodwink everyone, despite his limitations. The film also uses flashbacks, either to enlighten audience too much (by showing the same scene twice), or to fool them a la Kahaani.
Actually, the film suffers from a hangover of both Kahaani and Talaash (a cop and his estranged wife grieving over their dead child). The story follows Danish Ali (Farhan Akhtar), a grieving ATS officer, after his daughter is killed in a terrorist shootout, thanks to his recklessness. His wife (Aditi Rao Hydari) blames him for the mishap (rightfully so), and he is also suspended from the force after he botches up their operation to catch the terrorist responsible for his daughter’s death, alive. He even contemplates suicide, but defers his decision when he has a chance meeting with Panditji (Amitabh Bachchan). Panditji is a genius chess grand-master, who has lost both his legs as well as his wife in an accident. Danish and Panditji bond over chess, and as their friendship grows, Panditji asks him to investigate the death of his daughter, who is said to have died in a staircase mishap at the Welfare Minister’s house. Panditji doesn’t believe it is an accident and feels it’s a murder committed by the minister (Manav Kaul) himself. For the sake of his new friend, Danish decides to unofficially investigate the case, which is closed by the police. As the investigation intensifies, Panditji is attacked by a mysterious assailant called as Wazir, and Danish decides to protect his friend from further attacks. Who is this Wazir? What has he got to do with the Welfare Minister? Will Danish protect Panditji from Wazir? The scenes between two men united by personal tragedies work the best. There’s a lovely conversation between Dhar and Danish about coping and moving on, and Dhar’s pain carries the film through its most laughable moments, including John Abraham’s bulky officer firing on his own men so that Danish might have his revenge. The movie comes to a neat and tidy conclusion after all the maze running, but the larger question of whether nationalism is best conveyed through vigilantism remains unresolved. Director Bejoy Nambiar seems to have foregone his visual style for an easier narrative that has been shot well. The film is a short thriller (run time of 1 hour 42 minutes) which has some of the finest story building for any thriller in Bollywood but eventually comes short as it tithers towards the end. The revelations and the twists don’t leave the sort of impact that they could have. Eventually, it feels like an anti-climax as the buildup promised a modern classic. One major problem with the film is that it acts the way we expect it to work. It doesn’t surprise. And that coming from Bejoy Nambiar in itself a huge surprise! The films ends up as a disjointed failed enterprise.
With names like Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Abhijat Joshi, and Bejoy Nambiar, the same people behind Indian classics like Munna Bhai, 3 Idiots, PK, and Shaitan such kind of disappointment comes as a rude shock. Why the film failed at being a thriller was because of the predictability, and lazy writing. Sharp viewers will guess the conclusion much before it comes. Despite the fact that Bejoy Nambiar’s movie also qualifies for other potential awards, such as the Worst Use of a Flashback prize, the gong for Do We Need Background Music in Every Scene, and the medal for How Not To Ruin the Pace with Song Sequences, the movie holds together. But despite its flaws, if the film is watchable majorly because of the powerhouse performances by its lead cast. Farhan Akhtar is brilliant as Danish Ali, the ATS cop dealing with a major loss in his life. The film is the culmination of the tremendous growth of Farhan Akhtar as an actor and you are amazed by the ease with which Akhtar pulls off difficult emotional scenes with a masterly ease. Amitabh Bachchan does what he does best – wowing you without much effort, as the wheelchair-bound chess genius. Big B also executes the difficult task of infusing light humor in an otherwise dead serious kind of proceedings. Manav Kaul as the power-hungry Kashmiri politician is sufficiently impressive, so is Aditi Rao Hydari as Farhan Akhtar’s wife. Aditi portrays vulnerability of human emotions with finesse and you wish you could see much more of this truly talented actor. Neil Nitin Mukesh gets all the histrionics right in the title role, looking both menacing and intriguing at the same time. John Abraham makes a fleeting appearance, but what really convinced him to play this rather insignificant part (even from a cameo point of view), would be interesting to know. On the whole, ‘Wazir‘ is a sloppy thriller with good performances. Disappointed!
Director – Bejoy Nambiar
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 102 minutes