WAZIR

Wazir, starring Farhan Akhtar and Amitabh Bachchan, is a consistently watchable but frankly far-fetched thriller that just isn’t as smart as it ought to have been. There’s a lot to appreciate in the film, particularly the performances of its leading men, and the brisk unraveling of its plot. Too bad it’s weighed down by a sloppy script.

 
Akhtar and Bachchan play two men united in grief and loss. Akhtar is ATS officer Danish Ali who lost his daughter in a shootout, and was suspended from duty for carrying out an unauthorized hit on the terrorist responsible for his little girl’s death. Bachchan is chess grandmaster Omkarnath Dhar (fondly referred to as Panditji), who lost his wife and his legs in an accident, then his young daughter a few years later.
 
Danish meets Panditji by chance, but forms a strong bond with the older gentleman who teaches him to play chess, and alludes to the game as a metaphor for a larger plot. Subsequently both men help each other heal. Panditji orchestrates a reconciliation between Danish and his wife Ruhana (Aditi Rao Hydari) who separated from him recently. Danish, meanwhile, vows to investigate Panditji’s suspicion that his daughter’s death wasn’t an accident, but the handiwork of a respected Kashmiri politician (Manav Kaul) at whose home she worked.
 
Director Bejoy Nambiar, working from a script by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Abhijat Joshi, keeps things taut and well paced in the film’s first half. There’s genuine feeling in the conversation scenes between the two men, particularly on the subject of coping with personal loss. And Bachchan does a fine job of delivering the film’s smart one-liners with required flourish.
 
It’s short lived though, as the script unfolds revealing so many lapses of logic you find yourself rolling your eyes repeatedly. Danish is now in hot pursuit of a shadowy figure who goes by the moniker Wazir, and what follows are a pair of plot twists that can be spotted from a mile away. It’s true! Cracking the film’s ‘suspense’ feels a bit like an adult would, having solved a Class V arithmetic sum – where’s the big achievement in that?
 
Still, to be fair, the film doesn’t completely derail because Nambiar stages thrilling action sequences, and because the commitment of his leading men never flounders even when the script does. Bachchan is exceptional as the weathered senior, his eyes hiding a repository of grief and pain. And Akhtar, although saddled with a one-note part, brings unmistakable sincerity, his anguish palpable every time he’s on screen.
 
Manav Kaul is very good as the inscrutable minister, and Aditi Rao Hydari leaves an impression as the fragile wife and mother struggling to cope. Neil Nitin Mukesh and John Abraham appear in small cameos but neither is particularly memorable as a result of their carelessly etched parts.
 
In the end Wazir is moody and atmospheric, and gripping for a large part. What it needed was a tighter script with fewer holes. I’m going with two-and-half out of five.

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