Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Tapsee Pannu, Amrita Singh, Manav Kaul, Tony Luke
Director: Sujoy Ghosh
Rating: * * ½
Imagine a whodunit that unravels entirely through conversation – that’s how Sujoy Ghosh designs this film, officially inspired by the Oriol Paulo scripted & directed Spanish thriller ‘The Innocent Guest.’ A ‘Kahaani’ this ain’t though! Ghosh has swapped the genders of the lead characters but the rest is just about the same as what transpired in the Spanish film.
This is largely a verbose drama, centred around fanciful conversations between the accused, a successful businesswoman, Naina Sethi (Tapsee Pannu), and her expert lawyer Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan) who has been assigned by her friend Jimmy (Manav Kaul) to save her from the charge of murder. But for a brief interlude in a neighbouring European chalet, a visit to a remote hotel and some flashbacks to a swamp lake, the film is situated mostly in her apartment in London. Ghosh, of course, did not dare have his characters visit the British courtroom as authenticity would have become a big problem then.
Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu come together again after ‘Pink’ but the picture is not exactly rosy here. For one the style of narration is terribly boring. There’s neither tension nor empathy in the telling. As a result, you find it difficult to feel for the protagonist’s plight. By choosing to present the lead character, a young, married, award-winning entrepreneur as an adulteress and party to an accident-murder cover-up, Ghosh and his writer basically lose the plot. It becomes difficult for the audience to identify with that behaviour, understand or be forgiving for the mechanics involved here. And then trying to foist an impersonation as the real deal, loses efficacy because the voice of the actor playing the role becomes a stumbling block to believability. The uninspired writing and rather meaningless dialogue don’t add intensity to this rather frayed engagement.
The lies spun here don’t work up mystery or intrigue. The manner in which the conversation between Naina and Badal progresses induces lethargy rather than interest. Naina’s attitude is also rather off-putting. Tapsee Pannu starts off by being earnest and then doesn’t seem to care much about the consequences of her actions and that rather deflates whatever little interest this whodunit drums up. Amitabh Bachchan is also a little too imposing to fit into the role he assays leaving us with very little take away from this far from a brilliant attempt at murder mystery thriller. Even famed Malayalam actor Tony Luke comes across as a tad uncomfortable as the illicit lover Arjun Joseph. So it’s literally up to Amrita Singh to lend a modicum of conviction to a rather outlandish set-up that doesn’t quite hit the right notes.