Badla Review


Plotline: –

Renowned businesswoman Naina Sethi (Taapsee Pannu) is out on bail on the charges of murdering her lover Arjun (Tony Luke). Her lawyer Jimmy (Manav Kaul) arranges her a meeting with Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan), another renowned lawyer reputed for not losing a case in his 40-year long career. Will Badal Gupta be able to help Naina out? Or will this be his first loss?


Positive Points: –

  • Amitabh Bachchan’s stellar act and to some extent even Amrita Singh’s performance. Taapsee was also pretty good in the first two acts.
  • Though Badla is largely similar to The Invisible Guest, director Sujoy Ghosh has incorporated some of his own original ideas which rectify a few of the latter’s plot-holes.
  • Just like the original film, Badla effectively maintains its tense and enigmatic atmosphere which ensures its gripping nature.


Negative Points: –

  • Surely, this film has got ridden of some of the plot-holes of the original flick but in the pursuit of the same, it has made new mistakes. It also retains some of the problems of the latter which is obvious given the extensive similarities shared by both.
  • Taapsee has given a fine performance but there were quite many places especially in the third act where she seemed completely out of place. Also, Tony Luke and Tanveer Ghani’s performances were mostly underwhelming.
  • In its narrative, Badla is slightly less polished as The Invisible Guest and the same can also be credited to its shoddy edits at a few places.


General Aspects: –


For all those who have already watched The Invisible Guest, Sujoy Ghosh’s Badla is more or less a revision film. It has many similarities with its parent including its dialogues which is understandable given the fact that the latter had some really good lines that were difficult to replace or remove. Nevertheless, Ghosh has slipped in certain references to Indian mythology which work well with the script. There are many other subtle differences which we see in this Indian remake. Most gender roles have been reversed, which means the primary characters are played by opposite genders in both the films. While this seems inconsequential, with time and with the usage of mythological references one understands the implications behind this choice. Also, the nature of the lighting here depicts an obverse filmmaking choice. The events of The Invisible Guest occur at night time in a well-lit room while those of Badla occur in the daytime in apparent cloudy weather in a dimly lit room. Badal Gupta mostly sits opposite to the natural light while Naina faces towards it. I won’t delve into the positives of these to avoid giving away spoilers but I would like to state that in technical terms these subtle selections are well-founded and reflect the actual shades of its characters as well as the mood of the entire film in a consummate manner (same goes for the parent film). Now, coming to the story the film has made use of all the original elements that it has incorporated. It maintains its mystery pretty well and I believe it also manages to mystify the new viewers (who haven’t seen the original film) by the end. It’s important to understand that the plot-holes in the first and second act of the film are necessary and that’s probably why it’s difficult to actually zero upon an actual fallacy in both the movies.

However, here’s the thing. The first time you watch a film, you watch to like it. The second time you choose to view it, you do it to find its flaws. That’s exactly what happened in my case with Badla. It not only became easier for me to spot its narrative defects but also helped me to understand the mistakes in the original flick. Given that, director and writer Sujoy Ghosh has gotten the better of some flaws but ends up making newer ones while also retaining the basic fallacies of its parent including the wishy-washy ending. Also, the storytelling isn’t as sleek as it is in The Invisible Guest thanks to its messy editing but in terms of direction Ghosh out and out excels Oriol Paulo. The rest depends on how well one can find the virtues and vices in this movie but no matter what, I believe that as a remake it’s pretty strong and impressive.


Performances: –


The casting has been a weak trait in the film. It’s not that the actors have disappointed completely but the fact that most haven’t been as impressive as they should have been. Now, this is something where the parent film excels by miles and we can’t help but accept its superiority here. Amitabh Bachchan has been the best performer and easily the most impressive one. Even in his late 70s, his onscreen charm is magnetic and it’s impossible to look through the effortlessness in his acting. He rules the screen like the masterful thespian that he is and is one of the prime reasons to like this film. Amrita Singh is also pretty good and compelling as the sympathetic yet strong Rani. Her role is brief but she still makes the most of it in a subtly sublime performance. Taapsee is fine in the first and second acts but the real test she has as an actor is in the final act where she is required to showcase her character’s conflicting shades and she hardly makes it through. Her shortcomings as an actor come out openly in it and that just leaves us flabbergasted for all the wrong reasons. Manav Kaul’s character has no real thrust and neither does he bother to add any strength to it. I’m not sure why and how Tony Luke was cast as Naina’s lover but his performance is completely disenchanting. He is one of the weakest entities in the entire movie and it becomes even more disappointing if you consider the stellar performance Barbara Lennie gave for the similar character in the original film. Tanveer Ghani is also criminally miscast as Rani’s husband.


Final Verdict: –


Remaking films is much more difficult than what ostensibly meets our eye. This is why most remade films are either poorly received critically or tank in the box office (or both). Given that and the reputation of Oriol Paulo’s The Invisible Guest, Sujoy Ghosh’s Badla is pretty much effective and is a compelling piece of work. It’s largely similar to the former yet whatever different filmmaking choices Ghosh has made in it are fascinating nonetheless. Neither of them is a perfect film and the flaws in both can be spotted by careful discernment. However, if not for the casting, Badla could have been at par with the original and even though that’s not the case, it’s still a good film which deserves a one-time watch.




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