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‘Badla’: Bollywood’s whirling whodunit

Aruna Harjani

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, March 14, 2019  /  05:01 pm
‘Badla’: Bollywood’s whirling whodunit

Team up: Naina Sethi (Taapsee Pannu, right) hires a prestigious lawyer, Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan, center), to defend her. (Courtesy of Red Chillies Entertainment/-)

Once again, Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu pair up for a Bollywood blockbuster.

Badla, adapted from the Spanish film The Invisible Guest, is a whirling crime story that will keep you dizzy in wonder over who the culprit is.

In Badla, director Sujoy Ghosh, who is known for his films Kahaani and Kahaani 2, keeps the audience in suspense for more than two hours involving two characters in a heavy dialog discussing and turning around situations to reach their objectives.

The movie revolves around Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan), who is hired by Jimmy Punjabi (Manav Kaul) to help defend his client Naina Sethi (Taapsee Pannu). Gupta is one of the best lawyers in the industry and has never lost a case in his forty-year career.

In turmoil: Young entrepreneur Naina Sethi (Taapsee Pannu) finds herself in legal turmoil after she is found in a hotel room with the corpse of her dead lover.In turmoil: Young entrepreneur Naina Sethi (Taapsee Pannu) finds herself in legal turmoil after she is found in a hotel room with the corpse of her dead lover. (Courtesy of Red Chillies Entertainment/-)

The film begins as he walks into Sethi’s apartment a little earlier than their appointment. The movie then flows creatively as Gupta embeds scenes narrated by Sethi.

If anyone deserves accolades for this film it is the editor, Monisha Baldawa, for her superb editing.

Ghosh relies heavily on his two key characters, especially in the initial stages, and the perfect editing brings about skillful storytelling with a heap of suspense.

Ghosh keeps his audience wondering until the end whether his character Sethi is telling the truth or not. It is like peeling off an apple skin where it takes longer than usual to get through the fruit.

Ghosh also makes his audience think his accused character is innocent through the stories narrated visually through the flashbacks.

The film’s script was also well written, thanks to Ghosh and Raj Vasant, who included lines from the epic Mahabharata in the dialog.

Badla is good storytelling delicately delivered by Ghosh.

Bachchan’s performance as a lawyer is excellent. Films with a lot of dialog usually turn out boring, but Bachchan manages to do the opposite.

Pannu blends very well with Bachchan’s acting. The chemistry between the two of them is a natural.

Another actress with a powerful stint in the film is Amrita Singh, who plays Rani Kaur, the mother of a lost son. Singh’s character is a big contributor to the suspense throughout the film, smoothly transforming from a motherly figure to a tough and firm seeker of truth.

Due to many twists and turns in the flashbacks, however, some scenes do not connect anymore. At one point I couldn’t make out which flashback was the real one.

But in all, Badla is one of those unique and must-see creative movies from the Bollywood industry. You won’t find songs and dances, but you will be kept engrossed in suspense from beginning to the end. (ste)