Wazir (Stalemate)

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 09 Jan 2016 10:32:52




Film review: By Aasawari Shenolikar

Life is a game of chess - and in this game, highlighted by well crafted crafty moves, two strong individuals, each deeply hurt and nursing a grouse  - one for having lost a daughter in a shootout and the other for having lost his beloved under circumstances best described as mysterious, come together. While nursing their wounds, they form a strong bond; but who is the player and who is being played is what Bejoy Nambiar's Wazir is about.
Written by Vinod Chopra and Abhijat Joshi, Wazir tells the story of Danish Ali (Farhan Akhtar), a member of the Anti Terrorist Squad and Pandit Omkar Nath Dhar (Amitabh Bachchan). Danish loses his daughter in a shootout with a terrorist, and is later suspended for messing up an operation wherein a certain terrorist was to be caught alive. Danish and Panditji meet - he is the one who was teaching Danish's daughter chess and because the suspended officer has noting else to do, he whiles away time playing chess with Panditji, who teaches him not only the game, each move on the board is equated with lessons about love and life. But all the while Panditji is manipulating Danish. And telling anymore would be spoiling whatever little thrill and mystery there is in Wazir.
The narrative, with twists and turn, some not so predictable, is riddled with loopholes. The initial sequence makes you wonder, why would a senior member of the ATS act recklessly on spotting a terrorist? Without taking due precautions, with his daughter sitting in the car, he follows the rogues, and even as he is informing the other members of ATS about his move, the cellphone plays truant - no signal - how clichéd!
Also, as the villains are exposed in the first half itself, the element of thrill and mystery is lost. The only question is of the ubiquitous ‘chase’ and then ‘hit’. Again, the chase is not so very spine tingling, it happens in a mundane manner and the audience is left wanting for more.
An ATS officer believing Panditji's statement, 'Saboot mujhe Qureishi ki aankhon mein dikha, ki usne hi meri beti ka murder kiya hai,' is enough to send Danish, suspended by ATS, on a chase wherein he still has the power of tapping the phone of a Minister, setting up road blocks in the capital city and wielding his gun to control situations. Aren't suspended officers required to surrender their weapons?
And too much of ‘chess talk’ -  ghoda, haathi, wazir, badshah - even by the rogues, tends to get on the nerves. It appears that it is not only Panditji who is an ace chess player - even the villain Wazir (Neil Nitin Mukesh) is adept at all the chaals and knows everything about the haathis and ghodas. The writers have gone overboard with metaphors linking the game of chess to situations in reality. And that is irksome.
Minor details act as hindrances in a plot that is roller coaster in nature - at times interesting, at times dull. The first half of the movie is fast paced and gripping, the same cannot be said of the second half.
Amitabh Bachchan proves once again that he is the grandmaster of a craft called acting. His performance as a wheelchair bound man grieving for his daughter is spell binding. He is manipulative, he is gentle, he coaxes and cajoles, ensuring all the time that he gets what he wants. But for him all this is ‘daaye haath ka khel.’ Farkhan Akhtar looks the ATS officer he is playing, but then there is more to acting than just crossing the hands with a permanent frown etched on the face. Aditi Rao Hydari is truly ethereal, but doesn't have much to do in the film. The love story between Farhan and Aditi is fast forwarded when the credits are rolling and by the time the director's name comes up and the background song stops playing, the shoot out begins. And from then on it's a two-man show. The camaraderie between the two, their interaction with each other, the strong bond they develop is definitely worth watching.  Neil Nitin Mukesh as Wazir and Manav Kaul as Yazzad Qureishi give credence to their characters. There is no doubt that if the filmmakers had taken care of the minor details, this not so thrilling thriller would have the audiences riveted to their seats throughout. Like Amitabh Bachchan says, ‘Thoda energy chahiye tha' - wish Wazir was less predictable, less drab and had more of the thrill and energy quotient. Then it could surely have been a Check and Mate!
The Hitavada Rating :  * *