There is something about suspense films, especially if they have multiple plot twists and to top it all, are well made. You watch it once, and you are entertained. And now you want to watch it the second time, because there is also the other side of the perspective.
That’s exactly what Badla is all about. It is not just about ‘badla’, the revenge. It is also about ‘badla’, the reversal that happens.
In a key scene during the narrative, Amitabh Bachchan says – “Let’s hear it all in reverse”. Well, that’s the core of this Sujoy Ghosh directed film, because after you have watched the film once, you want to watch it all back in reverse, and applaud the smart screenplay that has been put together by the team of Badla that has been truly loyal to the Spanish original thriller (The Invisible Guest in English).
Twist par twist par twist par twist aur phir ek aur twist. That’s what Badla turns out to be. Films like these either turn out to be pulp fiction front bencher pleasing cinema like Hate Story (a successful franchise in its own right) or take a classy shape a la Kahaani. Well, Badla turns out to be latter, as it caters strictly to the classes. Not that you mind that at all as films like these have an altogether different grammar and that’s what makes this Shah Rukh Khan and Sunir Kheterpal production special since it keeps you engaged right through that two hour narrative.
It is indeed a task for a filmmaker to engage the audience when 75% of the film is set in a living room with just the two characters in a conversational mode. However, the ping pong that is played between Taapsee Pannu, the successful businesswoman who has been accused of murder, and Amitabh Bachchan, the lawyer with 40 years of experience ‘jo aaj tak ek bhi case nahi jaata’, is a truly riveting and a ‘match winning experience’.
You know that this is a mind game being played not just between an accused and her lawyer but also two smart people who are trying to outsmart each other. Watch Taapsee’s expressions that change as a chameleon depending on whether she is distressed due to being a victim or ecstatic when she believes that her smart self has finally found a match in a smarter lawyer. Or for that matter Amitabh Bachchan’s inherent sense of humour that comes to fore even at the most serious of moments in order to make the proceedings light.
However, what stays with you are the super entertaining plot twists that are always a step or two ahead of the audience, something that leads to quite a few wow moments. Time and again it happens in suspense films that as an audience you are able to get the guessing game right quite early in the narrative but in case of Badla, Sujoy doesn’t leave too many red herrings behind.
That’s the true win for the film because while from the likes of Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu (along with Amrita Singh in a crucial role) it was expected that performances would be top notch, it all boiled down to whether as a filmmaker Sujoy Ghosh would be able to get the suspense factor right without getting too many revelations out there for audience consumption.
Thankfully for him as well as the audiences, that doesn’t really turn out to be the case and that’s what makes Badla such an entertaining thriller that deserves not one, but actually a two time watch.