Badla, an official remake of the Spanish film, Contratiempo (The Invisible Guest) by Oriol Paulo, revolves around Badal Gupta and Naina Sethi. The film is not simple in any way. Badal Gupta is an ingenious lawyer who’s famous for winning all of his cases. Naina Sethi is a wealthy NRI and an award-winning business woman. Both the actors have portrayed their roles very beautifully, which was pretty much expected after seeing them together in Pink. The film isn’t very different from it’s original counterpart either.
It Challenges You
Badla forces you to think. Even at the very start of the movie, you can see that there is something extremely mysterious about it. You start reaching conclusions before the film has even completed a full twenty minutes. And the film continues to keep you on edge. It keeps you on edge because it confuses you. Naina Sethi keeps drawing circles with her words, and Badal Gupta keeps finding corners in those circles with his unmatched wit. But as the story progresses, you realise that absolutely nobody in the story is the way they seem.
If you are smart enough, guessing what the film would be like at the very start would be easy for you. There would be some parts that just won’t fit at the time, but at the end, the entire film will come together in an expected manner. But like I said, only if you are smart enough. And mind you, the film literally teases this- right from the point the two main characters start having a real conversation.
What is Badla All About?
A business tycoon, her lover, together in a room with 100,000 pounds. The woman falls unconscious. The next thing she knows, her lover is dead in a pool of blood. Now that is the starting point of all the questions. Who did it? Why? And, most importantly, where did the murderer go and who was he (or she)? Naina Sethi is then caught right in the middle of a whirlwind of accusations and lawyer Badal Gupta is her one and only hope, or so it seems.
Sujoy Ghosh very skillfully presents the film. Coming from the director of Kahaani, unexpected and dramatic plot twists are a given. Badal Gupta seems to be a Mahabharat fanatic, making references from the epic every now and then. And Naina Sethi is as unaware of the references as we are of the Endgame plot. But that obviously does not stop him from making even more references.
Badal explains to her destiny’s circle, tells her that by trying to cover up one intricate story by another, she’ll go around in circles and eventually end up at the beginning itself. The film as a whole is nothing but a distraction. It is a distraction from the truth we already know. It does nothing but confuse us, making us come to a different conclusion at every step in its progression.
There are a lot many stories that the characters tell each other. And those stories have so many plotholes and improbable twists that after a point, those are the factors that drive the main story. The film actually does a full circle and we do end up again at very beginning. All of the suspense in the movie is nothing but a tactic to diverge our attention from what is literally right before us. Ghosh tells us at the end, that the way we saw the story proceed is not at all the way it actually did. And that, too, is an art.
Bachchan and Pannu’s characters play a ton of mind games with each other on screen, and the audience unknowingly falls prey to all of it. The whole movie is a game of truths, lies, and perceptions that Badal Gupta and Naina Sethi create for each other. In the middle of all of it, you have Amrita Singh stealing the show whenever and wherever she can. Singh’s character was, unequivocally, the surprise element of the movie. Ardent music, meticulous editing, and exquisite cinematography are other factors that work wonders for the movie.
You can look at the whole movie in two ways. You can be disappointed at the end result of the film after such a sustained and unabating buildup, which seems to be a fairly popular reaction for such films. Or you can appreciate the whole process that Ghosh presents before us. He fluidly proves that the climax may not be the single most important part of such a story line. Making a story seem like something it is definitely not is an art, and Ghosh has undoubtedly mastered it. Kahaani and Badla prove it.