Badla Review & Rating
Badla Review: An Outstanding Thriller by Kahaani Director
The Spanish movie Contratiempo or let’s take its English language title The Invisible Guest starts with the noted attorney who is an expert in managing the witnesses entering the premises of the hotel where the protagonist who is wrongfully framed for the murder of his girlfriend whom he has been in a relationship for some time. The protagonist was male. And the lawyer is a woman!
Here, the director Sujoy Ghosh has taken a different approach. A time tested technique writers use but not say outright. When you have a story in hands, if you want to test it if it can stand the trial of time and has universality, reverse the genders and rewrite accordingly. Tapsee Pannu is roped in to play Naina Sethi, the protagonist and Amitabh the lawyer who is hired to help the lady. Happy Women’s Day by the way!
Badla is an interesting film. It is an official remake of the Spanish film Contratiempo meaning Setback! Who has experienced the setback? The lady who had been in a career rise and leading an enviably successful life gets suddenly framed for a murder she hadn’t committed? Or the lawyer who had never failed to drive his clients to safe waters with his expertry? Or the truth itself? The movie is layered. That is made evident right from the first frame.
Another thing we have to keep in mind is that the original wasn’t a critical success. There was a generally positive consensus. That’s all. It was the audience who loved the film not for its surprises but for the imagery that captured and commanded the rapt attention of the audience. Each and every little detail. Even the smallest piece of sound. Let’s see if our Indian version has matched the original which is a raging success with the online streaming audience or even surpassed with Badla review.
Amitabh Bachchan is grisly as Badal Gupta, the greatest lawyer who has never tasted failure in the cases he has taken up. No dialogue is necessary when you cast Shahenshah Amitabh Bachchan in such a role. But certain things need to be spelt out. To give the internal world consistency. He meets our Naina Sethi who is nearly house arrested in the residency she’s currently in. Her personal lawyer has a lead which might help her come out of the case unscathed. And he is away on that business.
It is at this time Lawyer Mr. Gupta (check out the names of the characters, they tell a lot and give clues) joins Naina Sethi and tells her a horrible news. That she would be taken into custody within a few hours. Less than the run time of a full-fledged Bollywood film. But he assured her that if she cooperated with him and gives complete details of what is needed and when and where she was for the last few days before the fateful incident, then he can blast the case out and set her free from the clutches of the law.
It is a time framed suspense cum mystery thriller. Who killed Naina Sethi’s boyfriend? Mystery. What secret is Naina hiding, and had really happened before the murder? Scene by scene suspense. Our perspectives change and our loyalties to the characters get tested. We cannot exactly decide whom to root for. How Mr. Badal Gupta unravel everything and save his client who has everything to lose if gets arrested and what is the real truth form the rest of the story.
Amitabh Bachchan's excellence
Not for nothing Amitabh Bachchan is called the Shahenshah of Indian Cinema. His screen presence is enough to command the rapt attention from the audience. He brought in an aura while portraying the role of Lawyer Gupta. His voice has the finality of justice. His expressions incisive. And... then there is a mystery surrounding him too. His is a character that is actually a little bit undermined by the gender reversal and the even those who have not seen the original can get wind of what is what and what is not when it comes to suspense.
Clever work by Sujoy Ghosh
Of course, the director actually did not depend on the suspense factor and it is evident that he assumed that the audience has already watched Contratiempo before the release of Badla. That’s why he came up with a new idea. He based all his film on the personalities of his lead actors. Amitabh Bachchan and Tapsee Pannu. Clever. And it worked out quite well. After all, remaking in today’s connected world is very tough. It takes more than creativity to make these films tick.
Sujoy Ghosh who has given a film like Kahaani (a textbook example of how to write/make a thriller) did a surprisingly great job considering all these limitations listed above. The writing is solid. The dialogues? Terrific! The narration? Competent! The screenplay is constructed in such a way that the audience pays attention despite guessing what’s gonna happen. The movie is such a rare combination of whodunnit and whydunnit.
Music and cinematography
The music of the movie is excellent. The sound design is so well done that you cannot imagine this film without the background score. It gelled well with the vision of the director. It has given a personality to the film. Same is the case with the cinematography. The landscapes are captured in a grandiosity. The claustrophobic mindscapes of the characters are explored with lights and shadows. The framing is clean.
Editing and production
The editing is sharp. Not a dull moment. Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies cake up with a spicy thriller. The production values are world class. The production design is superb with the locations extending their own personality. They too are characters just like Amitabh’s Badal Gupta or Tapsee’s Naina Sethi.
Amrita Singh and Tapsee Pannu
Amrita Singh is an asset in a relatively smaller role. Her understated chemistry with Amitabh is one of the highlights of the film. The way they exchange glances and conversing without speaking makes for a treat. And then there is Tapsee Pannu. Time and again she proved that all she needs is a proper role. Rest she can do superlatively. She stood in firm control despite going toe to toe with an actor like Amitabh. Rest of the actors are mere ornaments and they are designed very well.
Don’t watch Badla for its suspense or mystery. Watch it with an open mind and like you watch a known story. Just follow the subtle leads given by the director who weaves an impossible narration around the personalities of his lead actors. You’ll experience a thriller unlike anything in recent memory. Even if you watched Contratiempo, Badla comes out as a good weekend watch.
- Amitabh Bachchan
- Tapsee Pannu
- Clever narrative framework
- Gender reversal compared to the original, added intrigue
- Music and cinematography
- World-class making
- Chances that the audience can guess the upcoming twists
- Amitabh's presence gives away the story
Pycker Rating: 3.25 out of 5
Tailpiece: This movie proves that a remake needs even more creativity than what others think. And Sujoy Ghosh proved his storytelling mastery.
Reviewed by: GitacharYa
Badla Critic Reviews
Badla User Reviews
A terrific thriller. Sujoy Ghosh added just enough creativity to make those who watch the original enjoy this remake without any problems.