Hindi Reviews

Wazir Review: Muddled Game, Great Players

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Wazir, on paper, is perfect Vidhu Vinod Chopra material. An unreasonable story that relies on songs and intense emotional moments. Just like Parinda, Broken Horses, Khamosh and Ekalavya. However, Wazir doesn’t belong to Chopra. Extraordinary moments in Wazir scream the name of its young director, Bejoy Nambiar. It’s clear that Chopra, the film’s co-editor and producer, really backed this filmmaker.

*****

There are dramatic moments aplenty, but none are long-drawn. The opening song sequence shows a young police officer, Danish Ali (Farhan Akhtar) meeting a danseuse Ruhana (a beautiful Aditi Rao) at a traditional ceremony, and then marrying her. The duo soon welcome a baby girl to their paradise. The entire song is shot in slow motion. Ali’s happiness and love looks real, thanks to Farhan’s performance. In the scene that follows the song, we see this happy family man transform into an utterly irresponsible, workaholic father. And the girl is killed in an impromptu shootout between Ali and some terrorists.

*****

Unfortunately, at this point, the asininity of the plot becomes so glaring, that it can’t be ignored anymore. Why does an internationally-wanted terrorist travel in the front seat of a vehicle, in New Delhi’s highly-secured CP Road. Why does Ali go for that fatal chase, with his daughter in tow?

Lonely and depressed, Ali comes across Panditji (Pandit Omkarnath Dhar), a role Amitabh Bachchan plays to perfection. Panditji is a wheelchair-bound chess enthusiast who gives children chess lessons at home.

The logical flaws in the storyline are covered in part by terrific performances from lead actors Farhan Akhtar and Amitabh Bachchan. Their characters look deeply involved and earnestWhen they talk about chess and life, they are totally engrossed in it. When Bachchan throws a shoe at a minister’s car, in spite of the frivolousness of the scene, you relate to the character’s emotions. When Farhan poses for a picture during his wedding, he smiles like he means it. When he is trying to shoot himself at his daughter’s grave, there’s real pain on his face. And the final video, where Panditji is bidding adieu to Ali, is poignant.

*****

Panditji talks in chess metaphors. His dialogues use words like haathi (elephant), ghoda (horse), wazir (minister/rook), badmash baadshah (evil king), shatranj (chess) and sipaahi (foot soldier). But Amitabh Bachchan ensures that the excessive use of metaphors doesn’t sound artificial. One brilliant montage shows Ali honing his chess skills with Panditji and his students. The sequence has sharply-edited shots and Bachchan saying “Khel khel mein, khel khel ke, khel khel yeh aa jayega” in his booming voice.

*****

Why is this game, chess, in the film? Because Vidhu Vinod Chopra loves drama and metaphors. The film looks like a brilliantly executed mind-game, a game of chess. Ali is drawn to this wise old man, whose daughter was killed in an incident the police call an accident. Pandit, however, is (rightly) convinced that she was murdered by the Union Welfare Minister. “I saw the truth in his eyes,” Pandit tells Ali. Ali, a trained police officer, chooses to believe Pandit’s version of the incident. It’s the beginning of a chain of strange events.

Ali’s colleague, another senior officer with the anti-terrorist squad, taps the Minister’s phone calls. An officer with the Jammu and Kashmir police force (an irrelevant role played by John Abraham) goes out his way to help Ali with a suspicious secret operation, which involves sneaking into the Minister’s private room and beating him. Worst of all, the epilogue tries to spoon-feed the audience. Six music composers worked on Wazir, and songs are frequently used as shortcuts to express the nuanced shades of the characters’ relationships.

*****

Wazir wants to be an intelligent thriller, but is pulled down by the banality of its script. But thanks to the actors, and Nambiar’s masterful direction, it is a moving story.

*****

The Wazir review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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