Movie Review: ‘Badla’

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As a remake of Spanish film ‘The Invisible Guest’ (2016), Sujoy Ghosh’s ‘Badla’, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu and Amrita Singh promised a thrill and a suspense of the kind the director is well-known for. After the successful ‘Kahaani’ franchise, Ghosh’s offering is one that many will have been excited about.

Naina Sethi (Pannu) is on bail following an accusation she murdered a photographer who she was having an affair with. Her lawyer Jimmy (Manav Kaul) is trying his best to get her out of the situation, which she says she’s been blackmailed into. He sends her way another lawyer who hasn’t lost a case in 40 years, by the name of Badal Gupta (Bachchan). He coerces her into giving more information than she has given to the police previously. She ends up giving away much of the back story which is relevant to the case, also highlighting another murder that happened. Will Gupta be able to save Sethi from a prison sentence?

It has to be said that ‘Badla’ is a great remake of ‘The Invisible Guest’ and Ghosh has made changes to suit the Indian feel. The suspense and thrill that ‘Badla’ gives creeps up on you. At first, you’re just interested in the story as a straight line. However, there are so many different perspectives that come into play that it gets more and more interesting as the film unravels itself which is a joy to watch. Credit for this absolutely goes to Ghosh and his vision and also the actors in the story.

Bachchan and Pannu have been seen together in ‘Pink’ (2016) and their on-screen bond is something which is tried and tested. In ‘Badla’, their comfort level is apparent immediately and this is something the story needs because they are pitted against each other it feels until it gets to a brief point where they seem to be on the same side before the status quo is challenged again. Bachchan is great at not showing his hand as Gupta and this is also essential to match Pannu’s performance as Sethi which sees her change colours constantly. Her chemistry with Bollywood debutante Tony Luke is also on par for the overall narrative to work well. He makes a truly stellar debut and no doubt he’ll be getting offers left, right and centre. his casting couldn’t have been better and he provides the much needed support needed for Pannu’s character. Amrita Singh comes in as an important character within the story and plays a sixer where impact is concerned. It’s a treat to see her on the screen and to see her share the screen with Bachchan after many years. Kaul makes a great special appearance as Sethi’s lawyer friend and this is to be expected – he usually always has an impact no matter how small the role.

It would be fair to say that ‘Badla’ ticks all the boxes, including the elements of surprise which is necessary for this suspense thriller genre. Ghosh manages to successfully keep the audiences engaged throughout the film which is quite something. While not quite on par with 2012’s ‘Kahaani’, he definitely shows that he’s got this genre absolutely mastered. If you’re looking for such a film which gets into your head and challenges the way you are thinking, this is the one to watch!

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