Film Review: TE3N
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Nawaaz, Vidya Balan, Sabyasachi Chakraborty and Padmavati Rao
Screenplay: Suresh Nair and Bijesh Jayrajan
Cinematographer: Tushar Kanti Ray
Music: Clinton Cerejo
Producer: Sujoy Ghosh
Director: Ribhu Dasgupta
Rating: Four stars
There was a time when Amitabh Bachchan was hailed as ‘one-man industry’ in the late 70s and throughout the 80s. It was the days where the superstar was not experimenting much with roles and Hindi cinema itself was caught in a specific genre trap. That was then. But, now the Hindi film industry is witnessing the best of times, never ever shy of trying something new and fresh. We are living in an era where actors, directors, young and fresh minds are exploring better-nuanced themes and it marks the triumph of good cinema. Amitabh Bachchan is beyond competition and if there is one man, he tries to compete with it’s himself. He is his own competition, raising the bar higher and higher every time. Come and beat that. In TE3N, Bachchan surpasses himself by playing the common man to perfection in this compelling thriller, making it one of the best-made flicks this year. Of course, Nawazuddin Siddiqui is at his natural best as the cop-turned-priest and Vidya Balan performs competently.
The film starts in a flash mode where John Biswas Roy (Amitabh Bachchan) is leading an indefatigable battle to uncover his granddaughter’s killer. Martin (Nawaz) is a guilt-ridden cop who was in charge of little Angela’s kidnapping case and tries to find peace by embracing priesthood. As the movie rolls, a cop Sarita Sharma (Vidya) is seen dissuading a tired 70 plus old man who has been making the round of police station for the past eight years. Another kidnapping case strikes in pretty much the same fashion that Angela was abducted. Will John Biswas get justice or the killer will give the cops a slip again? Set in Kolkatta, TE3N strives to provide the answers.
As the tired grandfather in quest of justice, Amitabh Bachchan plays the wrinkled-face battered man where he delivers a fluid and superlative performance. He plays the common man to perfection: the body language, eyes intensity,and emasculated demeanor in quest of justice, is lent extraordinary credence. John Biswas is a middle-class man and bruised as a human being, looking for justice but is aware of his weakness, old age and a system that may never give justice. Bachchan expresses the layer to the hilt and ups the quotient in every single frame to prove that he challenges himself every time as an actor, raises the bar a notch higher. It’s a role that many will identify with and he gives a new edge to character, reminding us of the famously played ones in the past, the rebellion against the system. No words suffice to describe the acting histrionic of Bachchan in this one where he effortlessly slips into the character of John Biswas, giving it layers, shades, and nuances of a tired and dreary looking man.Nawaz plays Martin, a former cop and now priest, that reeks of guilt and failure to solve the kidnapping puzzle. He effortlessly showcases failure and hiding inside the church, refusing to face his inner demons. The complexion of playing such a character is done in an effortless manner and he is not far away from Bachchan in terms of performance where both of them express subdued emotions. It couldn’t be a better film to bring the two powerhouse of talent together in a film where director Ribhu Dasgupta does a delectable job.
Touted to be a guest appearance, Vidya Balan as Sarika is more than that in terms of screen presence in the film and dons the role of the cop in a competent manner. Vidya is a powerful actor but the spark we’ve seen in Kahana, PAA or No One Killed Jessica, is somehow missing. It got to do with the fact that her character is not given ample scope to be developed.
TE3N is an edgy thriller and technically proficient. Apart from the performances, it’s the angular camera movements, close up shots and the lyrical shoot of Kolkatta, trains, trams and yellow cars plus bylanes surrounding old buildings add to the magnifIcence of TE3N. Cinematographer, Tushar Kanti Ray has captured the city with finesse be it walls in tatters, idol immersion or the chase to strike an emotional chord. TE3N is shot in an aesthetic manner and it gives a soulful feel of Kolkatta. Truly experimental and super strong from a technical perspective.
Director Ribhu Dasgupta has a strong hold on the film right from star to finish, giving it the edgy touch to make a compelling narration. The film is treated with dexterity where Dasgupta has a rooted understanding what he is looking for and makes a sentimentally experimental flick where the loose ends are tightened. TE3N is taut, strong and super solid. There is no rhetoric, dramatic and over the top acting. The pain of Biswas is felt by the audience to make it a riveting affair.
On the flip side, Vidya Balan is one of the best actors that we have but plays a diluted character which is lost somewhere. It got to do with the fact that the character Sarika Sharma is not well etched and suffers from a lack of presence. The director should have worked more on the interaction between Balan and Bachchan who showed mesmerizing chemistry in the past but sadly, it’s sorely missing. Moreover, in some places, the narrative do suffer from few loose patch and but that doesn’t take away the aesthetic beauty of the film.
On the whole, TE3N is an engrossing, engaging and compelling film in terms of screenplay, performances, and direction, albeit strong technical points. Pacy, edgy, absorbing, high on the chemistry between actors and audience, TE3N is a winner. The icing on cake are the songs Haq Hai, Kyon Re, rendered by Bachchan and of course, the background music that flows wonderfully with the narration. There are very few dull moments in the film. For sure, Bachchan is a strong contender for awards this year, too for this one will fetch him laurels. Credit to DoPs for presenting Bachchan in a way that showcases a subdued act that wins hearts. Don’t miss TE3N for it’s a great cinematic experience spearheaded by Sujoy Ghosh-Dasgupta-Bachchan-Nawaz.