Movie Review: Wazir

Let’s give the David his due!

Bejoy Nambiar is back to resurrect his image after David, exactly two years later. He wipes the slate clean and rolls the dice out for Wazir, to begin the New Year with a bang for Bollywood.

Although the movie has the game of chess as the backdrop, it has nothing to do with the game. Nambiar uses the game of Kings and Queens and Pawns and Bishops as a metaphor to drive home the puzzling, winning message.

In Wazir, you win the war even though you lose the battle. There’s a very important move made, unknown to the viewer or the protagonist, which draws the curtains down. Or so it seems. But wait until the last reel as the move that won the war is unveiled.

To be honest, I failed to track any move that would put me in the driver’s seat. I was as confused as the protagonist. And when I hit the deck last night, I kept playing the moves in my head; it moved flawlessly.

Nambiar quickly moves his Pawns in the first frames [some are sacrificed] to establish the characters and reveal a few motives. But all is not revealed. The situation created to connect the path of every character is what you call, ‘good writing’. There’s a lot of thought that has patterned the characters which are obliged with some smart lines that lift off the somber mood to make it a tad lighter.

Danish Ali (Farhan Akhtar) an ATS officer loses his daughter while he chases a wanted terrorist in his car. A cop with duty written brazenly on his forehead, he drives his daughter along in the backseat, instead of dropping her off with her mother, who is at a store at the sidewalk. But duty comes first for Danish and he breezes in his Scorpio to hunt down the terrorist.

This incident leaves him scarred for life as his wife Ruhana (Aditi Rao Hydari) blames him for their daughter’s loss. In a combing operation to nab the terrorists, Danish is given sedatives, while his teammates get cracking. Not wanting to be left behind, he shrugs of the effects of the sedatives, without a care for his life to literally walk through their hideout and shoot them down. He is suspended for this act of his as the government wanted them alive. Intelligence stated that these terrorists had come for a very important meeting with a politician.

Pandit Omkarnath Dhar (Amitabh Bachchan), confined to a wheelchair after a car accident in which he loses his wife, makes his first move to get revenge for his own daughter’s death in the home of the Welfare Minister played by Manav Kaul.

He lures Danish to his home. Of course, he has a link to Danish here as Danish’s daughter would go to Panditji to learn chess. And what is also important to note is that Panditji happens to come into Danish’s life at the very moment he was planning to commit suicide.

They bond over grief, chess and Vodka. Theirs is a strange relationship. When Danish is told by Panditji that his daughter did not fall off the stairs but was killed by the Minister, he refuses to believe. This minister has risen from almost nothing to a position of repute. He lost his entire family and the village in Kashmir to a terror attack and chose to forgive those who did this to him and his 10-year-old daughter. He is the poster boy for peace. How could he be the killer?

After his own investigation and a brutal attack on Panditji by Wazir (Neil Nitin Mukesh) who has been sent by the minister, Danish is convinced. Then begins his task of protecting Panditji as the attacks keep mounting and Wazir tracks their every move!

Panditji wants to avenge his daughter’s loss… at any cost and he banks on Danish. Will Panditji, a cripple, succeed in taking on the might of the minister?

The game between these two is mesmerizing!

Farhan Akhtar outshines every other character with his taut body language and a performance that hits the high notes as suddenly as it drops to create that soothing melody on a saxophone. He lives and breathes Danish and is not able to shrug off the loss of his daughter. Everything he does is seen through this haze of his grief.

Amitabh Bachchan as Panditji is good, but there is that certain something which is missing in his performance that makes it brilliant. That fire of Agneepath or that zeal of Cheeni Kum was what was needed in Panditji. Nevertheless, he engages the viewer with his moves. Both he and Farhan create some memorable on-screen scenes.

Manav Kaul as the minister is sinister. A class act that sometimes sends a chill down your spine; he is methodical and clinical, as his character demands. Aditi Rao Hydari brings that softness to the plot with her subtle, subdued act. Neil Nitin Mukesh in a small but potent role lends excellent support. The action sequences are breathtaking.

If you are planning to watch Wazir (I suggest you do), track every move, analyze every act on screen; it will help you decipher the Wazir: the winning move that wins the war!

Rating: 4 / 5

Martin D’Souza

This first appeared on on January  08, 2016


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