Begins with a Bang, Builds Up Well, Fizzles Out Toward the End

51352-Wazir (2016)

Movie Review: Wazir (2015)

Director: Bejoy Nambiar

Genre: Thriller

Language: Hindi

Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Amitabh Bachchan, Manav Kaul, Aditi Rao Hydari, Anjum Sharma, with Neil Nitin Mukesh in a special appearance, and John Abraham in a cameo.

Writers: Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Abhijat Joshi, Bejoy Nambiar, Natasha Sahgal, Shubhra Marfatia, Abhijeet Deshpande, Gazal Dhaliwal

Rating: 3/5 stars

The setup of “Wazir” is not to be missed. A montage of happy moments introduces anti-terrorism officer Daanish (Farhan Akhtar), loving husband of Ruhana (Aditi Rao Hydari) and doting father of little Noorie. While running errands with his family in Delhi, Daanish spots a high-profile terrorist who was thought to be out of the country. His pursuit of the terrorist leads to devastating consequences.

Suspended from the force and guilt-stricken, Daanish befriends Noorie’s chess teacher, Panditji (Amitabh Bachchan). From his motorized wheelchair, Panditji teaches chess to children, all of whom outclass Daanish. Panditji informs his new student that the point of studying chess isn’t necessarily to win but to learn how to learn. Panditji also has an ulterior motive in befriending Daanish. One year earlier, Panditji’s adult daughter, Nina, died under mysterious circumstances in the home of the nation’s Welfare Minister, Izaad Qureshi (Manav Kaul). Qureshi says that Nina accidentally fell down a flight of stairs, but Panditji claims that he could tell from the look in Qureshi’s eyes that Nina was murdered.

A look in the eye is not much to go on. While the movie presents reasons to be suspicious of Qureshi, Panditji and Daanish don’t have access to the same evidence that the audience does. All that the characters have to go on is Panditji’s gut feeling.

Wazir-Movie-Review

It’s hard to believe that Daanish would risk his life and career on the hunch of a man he only recently met, irrespective of how distraught he may be at the time. Even harder to accept is the participation of Daanish’s ranking officer (a cameo by John Abraham) in a crazy scheme that should result in his and Daanish’s court-martial at best, their deaths at worst. The only reason that Daanish can take such risks based on so little information is that the story refuses to impose consequences on him. After brilliantly setting up Daanish as a man struggling with the consequences of a rash action, by the film’s denouement, he’s free to do whatever he wants in the name of what he considers justice. Never mind that he and John Abraham could maim and possibly kill innocent people in the process.

In the course of the unsatisfying climax, the truth about Nina’s death is revealed in a way that feels too convenient. It doesn’t feel earned. Additionally, Panditji’s ploy to motivate Danish into securing justice for his deceased daughter seems way too contrived and downright inconceivable, regardless how much one’s willing to suspend disbelief.

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That said, the performances in the film are generally good, particularly by Kaul and especially by Bachchan, who looks physically broken and world-weary. Akhtar is decent but his emotional range comes up excessively short before Bachchan as does Hydari’s. Abraham suffices in his cameo, as does Anjum Sharma, who plays Daanish’s reliable friend and coworker, Sartaj. Another selling point is “Wazir’s” efficient runtime of just over one hundred minutes. The movie is exactly as long as it needs to be to sustain its intermittent tension.

While far from perfect as a whole, “Wazir’s” thrilling opening action sequence, Bachchan’s expectedly superlative act, and some edgy scenes make it worth meriting a trip to the theater.

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