BADLA (2019)

  • Release Date: 08/03/2019
  • Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Amitabh Bachchan, Amrita Singh, Manav Kaul
  • Director: Sujoy Ghosh

Badla is the official remake of Contratiempo aka The Invisible Guest, a Spanish thriller about a couple having a secret affair who end up in a freak accident that leads to the death of a boy. The two have a family to fall back on and want to keep their affair under wraps and so are forced to cover-up the accident. As every sin has an insatiable desire to express itself, the couple soon finds themselves blackmailed by someone who seems to have knowledge of intimate details of their crime. Soon one among the couple ends up dead. The surviving individual is rigorously pursued by police and is forced to hire an attorney who has a reputation for building watertight cases to be presented in the court of law. The rest of the film is about the dialogue that unfolds between the attorney and the individual. As the film progresses it becomes abundantly clear that things are not as simple and clear as they appear.

Badla is basically a scene to scene recreation of Contratiempo and that is something I do not like about this film. When one makes a remake, one should have it in mind to make a film that has something to offer to the ones who have seen the original. Take for instance a film like “The Departed” by Martin Scorsese. It is a film that is a faithful remake of the ravishing “Infernal Affairs” but when you watch “The Departed” you never for once fall back on the original. It is so refreshing in its treatment and presentation of the story that it becomes a whole new beast. The story and the characters still remain the same but that doesn’t stop them from being themselves. The same cannot be said about Badla. Here everything is exactly the same as the original. Even the cinematography, color palate and even the score has an uncanny resemblance to the original. For someone who hasn’t seen the original, it’s not a pressing issue but for someone like me who has seen the original, it was something that kept constantly taking me out of the experience.

Badla has two USPs and they are Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu. What they started off in “Pink”, they continue here with renewed vigor and intensity. There is something about their chemistry that is so gullible that it is hard not to be enamored by it. I would have loved this film to have unfolded in that single room without anything else in between. It wouldn’t have been a bad idea to make it that way. When they are having a go at each other, it is easily the most resplendent and awe-inspiring portions of the film. Taapsee plays a character whose intents and past are not clear. She tells her version of the story and Amitabh Bachchan brings to the table his version of the truth. The two then throw arguments and counter-arguments at each other trying to close in on one final version of the truth. These portions are the core of the film and both Taapsee and Amitabh make these portion worth every second of our time. I just loved this version of Amitabh that is sly, foxy and definitely has some hidden agenda. He nearly gets exposed a few times but he camouflages his intentions beautifully. I just loved how Amitabh enacted these parts.

The biggest surprise of the film for me was Amrita Singh. I always knew that she was a wonderful actress but she has outdone herself in this film. This is easily her best act in years and she has played everything from Vamp to mother of a superhero. Her role here isn’t too long but every time she is on screen, she holds on to your attention and makes you feel her pain. It is very easy to take sides with her character and that adds a lot to the ensuing drama. Unfortunately Tony Luke as the secret lover of Taapsee falls flat in his act. A lot of the film’s drama depended on how he enacted his character and he is unable to deal with the varied shades of the man that he is playing. The mood and feel of his character change in the various versions of the story that Taapsee and Amitabh throw at each other and he needed to be up to the task if we had to be invested in the drama. Unfortunately, he single-handedly spoils the good work of Amitabh and Taapsee in many sequences.

Badla follows its original scene for scene and since the original was so good, it ends up being a great film for all those who haven’t seen the original. Sujoy Ghosh extracts the best out of his leading pair and that is what helps this film in elevating from a bland copy-paste job for all those who have seen the original. I would have loved to see more deft touches from Sujoy Ghosh in this film. He is a wonderful director and he has proved that time and again but not in this case. Badla was lapped up by the Indian audiences and critics alike but had they seen the original that might not have been the case.

Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)       

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Amit Kumar says:

    Having watched the original movie ‘The Invisible Guest’, I felt the Hindi remake could have been much better. Performance-wise, the movie was good (the performances of Mr. Bachchan as well as of Taapsee were top notch, no doubt) but still I felt something was missing, or may be because I had already watched the original movie, so that thrill factor was missing!

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