Movie Review — Wazir

A chequered narration

A man on the wheelchair and a game of chess and you brace yourself for some mind-blowing highbrow mind games.

A chequered narration

A scene from Wazir

Nonika Singh

A man on the wheelchair and a game of chess and you brace yourself for some mind-blowing highbrow mind games. Sure enough Wazir does a bit of mental jogging, packs in a few intriguing moves too, but it’s essentially a thriller in the typical revenge mould.

To begin with you meet Danish (Farhan Akhtar) and his radiantly beautiful wife Ruhana (Aditi Rao Hydari). Their picture perfect life comes crashing down in the first few minutes of the film. And then appears Amitabh Bachchan as Panditji, a grandmaster of chess teaching little ones the rules of the board game and towers over the film as only he can. A few contrivances later and the two men, never mind the years between them, are friends for life. What enjoins them is grief. While the ATS officer’s agony has been avenged, the other seeks retribution. Between their umpteen games of chess lies the road to justice for Panditji. The road takes you to some interesting junctures, some moments of reflection too and some rather pedestrian ones as well.  Rather it marries the formulaic and atypical in a fairly unusual fashion.

Though the film is set against the backdrop of Kashmir militancy, this is no political film. Any resemblance to living or dead is incidental… not ours but the filmmakers’ claim. And actually except for the fact that Panditji is a Kashmiri Pandit and the film interweaves militancy in its plot this isn’t art imitating life. Much that happens here is clichéd. Certainly the treatment is offbeat. The start and the finish are quite out of the box and rather slick and well-presented. Then the director in Nambiar keeps you sufficiently engaged despite a host of flaws and predictable detours in the storyline. That he has fine actors, including Manav Kaul as the menacing minister, on board is of course a great help. Performances of both leads Bachchan and Akhtar keep the film sailing even when its graph dips. Bachchan with glistening eyes and the perfect flutter even moves you emotionally. Akhtar is restrained and impressive, the perfect foil and partner in their game of chess and life.

Check and mate, we all know chess is all about moving your pawns in the right direction at the right time. Nambiar stumps you with some of his moves. But when he calls the end game, you are not completely bowled over. The analogy between life and chess moves above the mundane but doesn’t transform into great cinema. Unlike the yesteryear melody 'Aao hazoor tum ko sitaroon mein le chaloon dil jhoom jaaye' … that keeps playing at various intervals the film doesn’t transport you into an ethereal zone. On mortal parameters, however, it’s more than watchable for sure. With a runtime of 102 minutes it holds your attention even if it doesn’t have you on the edge of the seat all the while. If not outright enthralling it’s no way a disappointing fare.

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