A slick but predictable thriller with solid performances.
Cast & Crew
Amitabh Bachchan as Badal Gupta
Taapsee Pannu as Naina Sethi
Amrita Singh as Rani
Tony Luke as Arjun Joseph
Manav Kaul as Jimmy Punjabi (Naina’s lawyer)
Tanveer Ghani as Nirmal
Denzil Smith as Detective Sodhi
Release date 8 March 2019
Red Chilies Entertainment, Azure Entertainment
Badla Story: Naina (Taapsee Pannu) is accused of the murder of Arjun (Tony Luke). Her lawyer Jimmy (Manav Kaul) hires the senior advocate Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan) to help crack the case and defend Naina. But Naina’s confessions to Badal add a lot of twists and turns to the murder mystery.
Badla Review: Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but making it takes a fair degree of calculation and detail. Since revenge stories are literally done-to-death in cinema, crafting a smart thriller around the same old saga requires smart execution and tactfulness. Director Sujoy Ghosh’s Badla delivers solid thrills and some genuine twists with great effect. This whodunit, keeps the viewer engaging and constantly guessing about the big reveal. The fact that this is a remake of the Spanish film The Invisible Guest does not matter too much. The solid performances by Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu, along with the eye-for-detail writing by Ghosh and his team make the film a thrill-a-minute ride.
The majority of the drama unfolds between just the two characters Naina and Badal Gupta talking and recollecting the episode of Arjun’s murder. It’s a dialogue-heavy setup where the interaction between two central characters draws you in and their repartee catches your attention. In the simplest sense, the premise of Badla is a conversation between an accused, Naina and her lawyer, Badal. But, the very fact that both characters withhold the truth and reveal their true intentions, slowly and steadily keeps the intrigue alive. Ghosh and his co-writer Raj Vasant adapt the story to the Indian context with Mahabharata references. Some of the dialogues get a bit repetitive, but the emotions of the characters and the situation are conveyed crystal clear. The constant back and forth into the flashbacks does get a bit tedious and makes the film feel a lot longer than it actually is.
The real reason why the film comes together is the rapport between Taapsee Pannu and Amitabh Bachchan. On paper, the setup of client and lawyer may be familiar to the two actors’ previous collaboration Pink, but the relationship and the Dynamics between the two are completely new in Badla. Taapsee’s character has many shades and each new one reveals itself as the story progresses. The actress makes all the transitions seem perfectly authentic. Mr. Bachchan, on the other hand, has a more straight-laced role, but deft nuances and his ability to pull off the best lines with his elegant baritone makes the performance as clinical as a veteran lawyers arguments. Together, both actors combine to create the right amount of tension and thrill. Supporting performances by Tony Luke and Amrita Singh are top-notch, too.
Director Sujoy Ghosh has made a habit of pulling off complex thrillers like Kahaani and Kahaani 2 with ease, and with the multi-layered narrative of Badla, he seems right at home. The cinematography by Avik Mukhopadhyay, the editing by Monisha R Baldawa and the background score by Clinton Cerejo compliment Ghosh’s edge-of-the-seat storytelling. The predictability of the screenplay dampens the thrills occasionally, also the climactic twist requires a healthy dose of suspense of disbelief. But, even the seasoned genre faithful will agree that Badla offers a creative and thrilling end to a captivating mystery.
Our overall critic’s rating is not an average of the subscores below.