‘Wazir:’ Give me Ludo any day!

Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s company has some very successful entertainers and they have been huge money-spinners for the banner. To this end, his tie-up with director Rajkumar Hirani has proved to be fruitful. But, left to his own, Chopra likes to indulge in stories of intrigue, the earlier one being Eklavya. This time Chopra is credited with the original story ofWazir. Simply put, it is a story about two persons, Amitabh Bachchan and Farhan Akhtar, affected by the same villain and the way they join forces to avenge the wrong done to them.

But Chopra does not like to make it so simple. He weaves a web of complications around the script and the characters like the game of chess, which is at the centre of this film. What backfires on the script is that the audience knows who the culprit is while Bachchan and Farhan try to expose him.

Farhan is out with his wife, Aditi Rao Hydari, and daughter. While Aditi goes to a shop to get some work done; Farhan, waiting for her, spots a dreaded terrorist who, the authorities think, is in Karachi. A dutiful ATS officer that he is, he starts to chase the terrorist’s car. The chase ends abruptly when, after he turns a corner, the terrorists are waiting for him and start shooting at him. Farhan takes a bullet but survives while his daughter falls to a bullet. 

The happy family of Farhan is shattered. Aditi holds him responsible and wants nothing to do with him anymore. Soon, Farhan learns where the killer of his daughter is. He defies the ATS cadre, which is out to get the convict with instructions to take him alive since he is linked to an influential minister. Farhan’s rage is uncontrollable and he kills the terrorist. 

As is the norm in Hindi films of suspending honest and brave officers, Farhan too is suspended from the force. Farhan is forlorn and also decides to commit suicide at his daughter’s grave when Bachchan steps in. He gives Farhan time to have a second thought and, purposefully, drops his wallet at the gate of the cemetery. Luring Farhan to come visit his home to return the wallet. 

Bachchan runs a Bal Bhavan at his home. He is some sort of an expert on chess and teaches small children to play the game. There is another woman around who teaches them the skills of drama. Bachchan has lost his wife and both his legs for being flamboyant. Out on a ride with his wife, he exceeds the speed limit of his car and tragedy ensues. 

As it turns out, Bachchan’s daughter has been murdered by the same villain, Manav Kaul, who is also responsible for Farhan’s tragedy. Being handicapped, Bachchan needs a brave man with the same determination to finish the wrongdoer. Bachchan starts working on Farhan and while teaching him to play chess, fills his mind with a purpose, which is to kill Kaul. 

By now, Farhan has grown very fond of Bachchan, who creates a fictitious character called Wazir. Wazir torments Bachchan and hurts him and also promises to kill him. Why Bachchan and why not Farhan himself as the handicapped Bachchan is no threat to anyone while Farhan is the one capable of taking revenge. But, that is Bachchan’s way of emotionally blackmailing Farhan to go out and get the man who killed his daughter.

Kaul for his part lives a dual life. He is a terrorist who has killed the entire population of his village in Kashmir but using dramatics has emerged as the victim and as a patriot. He has even won elections and is now in a position to call the shots with police. Bachchan adopts all the tricks in the trade to convince Farhan to go after Kaul. Farhan does so. Kaul is at a public rally, surrounded by an army of guards but Farhan makes it look so easy that the audience satisfaction of justice to the villain is lost. 

The script of the film is like a game of chess for one who is not familiar with the game. The revenge angle is stretched and even it just a little over 100 minutes, the narrative sags. And the director’s fancy for creating rain and shooting in low light most of the time makes the viewing drab. It is the same complaint with cinematography: too much of low light. The film has little scope for songs but is loaded with seven numbers. Editing has no place here for that would have rendered the film to the length of a TV episode. 

Bachchan makes his presence felt by being loud. His get-up makes him look like a caricature and is quite a put off. Farhan justifies his character to the best of his abilities. Aditi has little to do. Cameos by John Abraham and Neil Nitin Mukesh are okay. Kaul does a fair job despite his stereotypical character. 

Wazir has nothing for the single screens, and its time at the multiplexes won’t be exciting either. 

Producer: Vidhu Vinod Chopra

Director: Bejoy Nambiar

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar, Aditi Rao Hydari, Manav Kaul and cameos by John Abraham and Neil Nitin Mukesh

‘Chauranga:’ This is not cinema

Chauranga is one more offering from the National Film Lab organised by NFDC and others, which means it is meant to exploit poverty, class differences and such problems in India and earn glory at various film festivals. This film has been doing the festival circuit since 2014 and has finally come to try to reach the Indian audience.

Two brothers coming from a backward class family are thick in their brotherhood. While the elder, Riddhi Sen, studies in a school away from his village, the younger, Soham Moitra, whiles away his time hanging around a jamun tree, watching the village strongman’s (Sanjay Suri) daughter passing on her two-wheeler. He has fallen in love with her and is convinced she too loves him because she always spares a smile for him.

Suri is the village headman by proxy as he takes all the decisions for a voicelessgram panchayat. While the population of the village is purely segregated between upper and lower castes, it does not come in the way of Suri from having a liaison with the mother of these two boys, Tannishtha Chatterjee. Her job is to look after the cowsheds of Suri and that is where their rendezvous takes place. In return, Suri looks after the education of her son. 

Suri has built a hand pump to solve the village’s water problem. He decides to invite a politician to inaugurate the pump followed by a film show for the entire village. This way, while the whole village is glued to the cinema, he can have his time with Tannishtha in the cowshed.

From the beginning of the film, there is a naagin slithering around on the screen, protecting her eggs. And during the duo’s rendezvous, she decides to leave her eggs, slithers into the cowshed and bites Tannishtha.

Earlier, besotted Soham has convinced his educated elder brother to pen a love letter to Suri’s daughter. Doting on his brother, the elder one obliges. It is some lines from a film song, which Suri had heard from the boy on an earlier occasion. That sounds the death knell for the boy. The younger one manages to board a goods train to escape to safety. 

Having sat through it, it is tough to understand the purpose of such a film. Its theatrical release spells disaster. 

Producers: Onir, Sanjay Suri

Director: Bikas Ranjan Mishra

Cast: Sanjay Suri, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Riddhi Sen, Soham Maitra, Ena Saha

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