The suspense genre is one genre where Bollywood has lagged behind, while the western film industry has made remarkable progress in this regard. When it comes to Hindi cinema, very few such films are made, of which only a few are memorable. Films Kahani directed by Sujoy Ghosh in this category  is the best. As a result, the expectations from Sujoy Ghosh go up when his directorial venture Badla hits the theaters this week. Apart from this, the lead actors of this film are Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu, who played Pink.  Due to his exceptional performance, the expectations from Badal go up even more. Not only this Badla is a Hindi remake of a Spanish suspense thriller film, THE INVISIBLE GUEST. So will Badla manage to entertain the audience, or does it fail in its endeavor, let’s review.
Badla is the story of a murder accused trying to prove his innocence. Naina Sethi (Taapsee Pannu) is a successful businessman in London and a married woman with a daughter. Her life takes a turn when she is accused of murdering her boyfriend Arjun Joseph (Tony Luke). After this allegation, his life changes completely. All the evidence is against Naina as she was alone in the hotel room where Arjun was killed. But Naina claims that there was a third person involved in the hotel room at that time besides her who carried out the murder and even hit her on the forehead. But preliminary investigation revealed that the room was locked from inside. Witnesses outside the room confirmed that no one came out of the room. Naina’s lawyer Jimmy Punjabi (Manav Kaul) learns that this is a difficult situation. So he hires expert defense lawyer Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan) to ensure that Naina doesn’t end up in jail. Badal reaches Naina’s house and starts his investigation. While talking to Naina, he tells her to tell her only the truth and during this many truths come to the fore. She tells that Arjun’s murder is related to Sunny Kaur, who belongs to a small town. What happens next after this, it is known only after watching the next film.
The story of Oriol Paulo (original author of THE INVISIBLE GUEST) is quite impressive and unlike other murder mysteries. Sujoy Ghosh’s adapted screenplay does its best to do justice to the original film and its plot. Many scenes are well written. However the film is complicated in the middle. For a layman, it can be difficult to figure out what is going on. Also, the style of the story can be a bit heavy on the audience. Sujoy Ghosh and Raj Vasant’s dialogues are sharp and witty. However, some dialogues unnecessarily drag the story.
Sujoy Ghosh’s direction is exemplary and tries to keep the essence of The Invisible Guest alive. But there remains a flaw here, which was also there in The Invisible Guest. But still his direction is such that no one will pay attention to those shortcomings. On the other hand, the revenge could have been a little more. The Invisible Guest was just 106, minutes long and Badla is 14, minutes longer than that. These extra minutes in this frame-by-frame remake are because of some dialogues that were not needed. Also, Ghosh adds an important dialogue in the first half which is an indication of the climax of the film and it is amazing if he does. Unlike the story, this film is of a slightly different standard and this may affect its prospects.
The opening credits of Badla are quite interesting and clever. The opening part of the film seems a bit stretchy. Badal’s time is wasted in proving the truth. But when she starts talking, interest starts to grow. However, the best part of the first half comes during Arjun’s meeting with Rani (Amrita Singh) and Nirmal. The interval point is quite interesting as it sets the mood of the film well. After the interval, the film starts to bind but in some parts the film starts falling apart. But only in the last 20 minutes, things change and the attraction for the film increases. The climax surely comes suddenly in a way that one cannot even imagine. But it should have been better executed and well executed for more mainstream impact.
As always, Amitabh Bachchan gives a superb performance. One of his scenes is with Taapsee in a closed room. But he plays it well and it adds to the fun in the film in a dramatic way. Taapsee Pannu is exceptional and the way she brings out the different shades of her character is commendable. Throughout the film it becomes difficult to understand whether he is a victim or not, and this seems to be due to his exceptional performance. Amrita Singh looks natural and has an important role in the film. She proves once again that she deserves to be seen more on screen. Tony Luke has an accent but it works for his character. He is the best in terms of performance. Manav Kaul is fine in a small role. Denzil Smith (Police) and Sunny Kaur who played Naina’s husband Sunil are fine in their roles.
Badla is a song devoid of songs but the same title track is played during the opening credits. Clinton Cerejo’s background score is catchy and suits the mood of the film.
Avik Mukhopadhyay’s cinematography is apt and the outside country scenes are captured well. Kaushik Das, Subrata Barik and Paul Rowan’s production design is fine, though it could have been a bit more realistic in the hotel room scene. The costumes of Deepika Lal and Anirudh Singh are splendid. Christian Tinsley and Domney Till’s prosthetics are good as they play a very important role in the film. The action of Sham Kaushal and Alister Mazzotti is real. Monisha R Baldawa’s editing has several complaints except for a few scenes between the first half hour and the second hour.
All in all, Badla is a smart and impressive suspense drama with astonishing climax and scintillating performances that characterizes it. At the box office, its possibilities may be limited to multiplex audiences.