Knightfall – Reviewing ‘Wazir’ (2016)
Verdict: ‘Wazir’ is the kind of movie after which an actor might say “I’m a director’s actor”, in the quest for plausible deniability.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s original story ‘Wazir’ plays out like a high-stakes game of chess where two men with entangled lives try to find answers and redemption both without and within.
In the style of Pixar’s ‘Up’, ‘Wazir’ in the first few minutes ruthlessly shows you a love story coming to an end. It wastes no time in putting you right in the midst of the action, and sets the ball rolling from the get-go. Daanish Ali (Farhan Akhtar) is a trained police officer with little to lose, and he maintains a somber and tough demeanor akin to Aamir Khan in ‘Talaash’. In his rage and recklessness, he gets suspended and rubs shoulders with a veteran chess player Pandit Omkarnath (Amitabh Bachchan). What follows next is an intense drama which somehow only seems to happen when officers are suspended. Imagine the policemen actually doing their jobs; what boring lives they must lead.
This film bears its share of action and occasional intensity. The scene where Daanish hunts down terrorists in his drunken rage is brilliantly shot, keeping the audience right on the edge of their seats. Also, the quality of dialogue writing makes for interesting exchanges between Amitabh and Farhan that are at once, both charming and meaningful. Up until the climax, almost everything seems to be heading somewhere good. The movie’s slow pace adds to the building suspense that you expect the end to satisfactorily unravel.
And therein lies the rub – the reveal itself. All the brilliant poetry that Bachchan deftly recites, all the hours spent in building a metaphor so clear that it’s a lighthouse in a fog-less sea, all of it comes to a painfully expected conclusion that makes you question the above. ‘Wazir’ sums up to a dull, lifeless, tale about a villain you were never scared about, a protagonist who only stared about, and a twist you never cared about.
The only real beacons were Amitabh and Farhan themselves. Akhtar delivers a powerful performance and Bachchan remains a true delight as always, neither of whom can be blamed for the movie. Wazir’s downfall is its stupidly one-tracked characters. It’s as if Vidhu Vinod Chopra had only the metaphor and reveal in mind when he thought of the movie, haphazardly constructing a plot around it in hindsight.
Amitabh Bachchan has aged like good wine. But all you get if you combine wine with stale pizza is a trip to the doctor’s. We’ll wrap up this review with what Roger Ebert felt about the reveal at the end of ‘The Village’.
“To call it an anti-climax would be an insult not only to climaxes but to prefixes… It’s so witless, in fact, that when we do discover the secret, we want to rewind the film so we don’t know the secret anymore. And then keep on rewinding, and rewinding, until we’re back at the beginning, and can get up from our seats and walk backward out of the theater and go down the up escalator and watch the money spring from the cash register into our pockets.”