By Troy Ribeiro
Film: “Wazir”; Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar, Aditi Rao Hydari, Manav Kaul, Neil Nitin Mukesh, John Abraham, Anjum Sharma, Mazel Vyas and Seema Pahwa; Director: Bejoy Nambiar; Rating: ****
“Wazir” from Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s stable and directed by Bejoy Nambiar is a dramatic thriller that is artistically crafted with a gripping screenplay and brilliant performances by its ace star cast.
An original story by Chopra, it is intelligently and emotionally confronting. It is a revenge story where the strategies in the game of chess are cleverly used as an allegory and keep you riveted to the screen till the end.
The screenplay co-written by Abhijat Joshi and Chopra is interestingly layered and unfurls the mystery at the opportune moment, making it an intensely intriguing film.
It is a tale of the bonding between two disparate individuals, Pandit Omkarnath Dhar, an effervescent old man with a zest for life and chess, and Anti-Terrorism Squad Officer Danish Ali, in their common grief.
Every character is well-etched and designed to interlock the plot effectively.
Amitabh Bachchan as Pandit Omkarnath Dhar, once again in a new avatar, delivers a power-packed performance with a broad spectrum of emotions ranging from an inconsolable father who has lost his daughter, to a happy-go-lucky chess player who introduces Danish Ali, to the game of chess with, “Hamara dushman hai waqt, saat baithkar shatranj khelenge to kat jayega”, meaning – our enemy is time, if we sit together and play chess, we will be able to kill time.
Farhan Akhtar in an equally dynamic role as an ATS officer and forlorn father, renders a sincere and credible portrayal. His anguish and frustrations as the emotionally drained husband and father, come across strongly on screen.
Aditi Rao Hydari as Ruhana, Danish’s wife, merely contributes to the glamour quotient and fails to impress as an actor.
Manav Kaul as the politician Yazaad Qureshi also known as Badshah, although in a fairly predictable role, is convincing and brilliant.
In miniscule roles are Neil Nitin Mukesh, John Abraham and Seema Pahwa and the two child actors, one playing Danish and Ruhana’s daughter Noorie, and the other Yazaad Qureshi’s daughter Ruhi. The two young girls, however, are well-cast and strike an emotional chord.
In an otherwise serious themed film, the dialogues are perhaps intentionally ebullient and often arouse chuckles, with a view to making the tenor of the film light. The late-night scene, when Panditji introduces Danish to a unique chess session saying, “Vodka peene ke baad, Pandit, mahapandit ban jata hai” is one such instance.
The songs are efficiently used to propel the narration, forward, especially, “Tere bin”, and “Ya maula”. And the background score punctuates the narration, aptly, making the entire viewing experience exalting.
Cinematographer Sanu John Varghese captures the visuals perfectly, whether it is the action sequences or emotional turmoil. The frames are pure visual delight. What adds to the aesthetics of the frames, is the lighting, which is deliberate. It succeeds in creating the fitting effect, albeit dramatic.
What keeps you immersed to this film, is the captivating story, tight plot and powerful performances. “Wazir” is a must-watch.