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And Thereby Hangs a Tale

Film: Badla

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Tapsee Pannu, Amrita Singh

Directed by: Sujoy Ghosh

Duration: 2 hrs

Rating: * * *

Badla directed by Sujoy Ghosh belongs to the almost defunct genre of taut mystery thrillers in Hindi cinema. A remake of the Spanish film Contratiempo (The Invisible Guest, 2016), it stays true to the original which was quite a riveting thriller in its own right – the genders have been switched in this film but apart from that, the screen play adapted by Ghosh makes for a gripping film.

This is not just a who-done-it, it is more of why and how as the layers start peeling off one by one. Considering that most of the film is conversational and set in one room, it is not easy to hold the attention but Badla does that because of its narrative. Set in the UK, at the very outset we see a lawyer meeting a lady who is under house arrest. The lawyer in question is Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan) whose reputation precedes him – he has never lost a case, ever and since he is approaching retirement, he intends to keep that record intact.

The lady is Naina (Tapsee Pannu) who is accused of murder – she claims to be innocent but the evidence suggests otherwise. In flashbacks the various strands to the story are laid bare. Amrita Singh plays the mother who has been wronged and is seeking retribution. To give away anything more than that would be a spoiler.

The cleverness lies in the original story Oriol Paulo, who is some kind of a specialist in these mystery thrillers. Sujoy Ghosh, to his credit, is no stranger to the genre with films like Kahani and a couple of shorts which he has made. Since the film hinges around the conversations between the lawyer and accused, the dialogues play an important role. Co-written by Ghosh, we even hear relevant quotes from the Mahabharata.

The bleak, grey settings of Scotland add to the atmospherics of the film. Of the cast, Amrita Singh as the determined mother is in fine fettle. The film rests on the two lead actors – Bachchan has been there done that while Tapsee Pannu is making rapid strides in the time that she has been around. Both play their roles with arresting attention. All in all, this Badla is a dish served hot.


Woman Power

Film: Captain Marvel

Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, Jude Law

Directed by: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Duration: 2 hrs 4 mins

Rating: * * *


The 21st film in the Marvel cinematic universe, Captain Marvel has a few things to harp about but being a superhero film, there are quintals of mundane stuff that comes your way. On one hand, the studio has introduced a lady character in the lead, which is a welcome change but on the other hand, it is marred by a predictable story and cookie cutter villains and supporting characters.

Also, it is amusing to see the reactions of the almost full theatre on a Friday afternoon – the audience waits for laughs and a goofball moment which is pretty ironic considering that superheroes are into some serious business – like saving the world or brokering intergalactic peace.

Captain Marvel first appeared as a man and changed gender later – the inspiration here is from stories not more than a decade old. Frequent collaborators Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck take over directorial duties here and the ultra-talented Brie Larson plays the lead role. She is Carol Danvers, who was an aviator wearing fighter pilot once upon a time, till a higher duty came calling – she is now a Kree, a bunch of aliens from outer space led by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). In her fraternity, Carol is known as Vers, a fierce fighter who is in pursuit of Skrulls, who are also aliens but their specialty, among other things, is shape shifting, like in saga of John O’ Connor.

The Skrulls and their leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), land on planet Earth which is referred to by a number. Vers has company in the form of Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson, looking younger than ever, thanks to the CGI) of SHIELD fame. Jackson, it must be mentioned has played such roles so many times that he can do it in his sleep.

Given the directors are primarily indie filmmakers (Sugar being their most popular film), they try to spice up the proceedings with flashbacks and an origin story – how did the air force pilot become a tight-suit donning superhero. But there are times, particularly towards the climax when the film functions with the standard operating procedure. But throughout, the film keeps shifting from one scene to another at such a pace, that you don’t get time to think about the potholes in the plot.

Considering that the story is set in the mid-90s, there are several pop culture and tech references – like an old-fashioned CDROM, dial-up modem and Alta Vista as a search engine in the pre-Google era. The soundtrack also has songs from the 90’s Salt ‘N’ Pepa (Whatta Man), TLC (Waterfalls) and the song that got my attention back to the film – Nirvana’s Come as you are.

Annette Bening has a brief but pivotal role, she is referred to as ‘Supreme Intelligence’. It is a delight to see Brie Larson, she brings a lot to the table and the screenplay doesn’t really do justice to her talent. In the end, we are reminded that Captain Marvel will be seen again in Avengers: Endgame – bring it on and let’s be done with it.

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