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BADLA - A courageous, well enacted but far less satisfying thriller than its original. So the choice is all yours with the easy availability of both the films. (Review by Bobby Sing)

08 Mar, 2019 | ALL ABOUT INSPIRED MOVIES / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / T / Movie Reviews / 2019 Releases

There was a time when we used to be the part of a huge crowd thronging the theaters (almost double its seating capacity) in the first show of all Amitabh Bachchan films in the 80s. And now it’s really painful to watch the first show with just 20-30 people in the theater, with the rest waiting for the early reviews and views. Though such change is inevitable with the change of time, but it surely hurts somewhere inside as a long-time die-hard fan of the star of the millennium. 
Anyway, movie watching in theaters has gone through a big change in the last decade in particular due to the insane ticket prices and lots of other entertainment sources available to the viewers in various formats. And thus reviewing a film also needs a lot of changes in its formatting, particularly when now you can watch all the new and old films of World Cinema too at Youtube and other official movie portals for a subscription.
In other words, in the present scenario when both the original and the remake are easily available to be seen as per your own convenience then it all actually depends upon how you prefer to watch your Cinema as a true movie buff and what matters more to you – a great original film made by a foreign director or just a fine remake made by our own filmmakers with our favourite stars featuring in the lead roles.
To be fair, if you are from the section of friends who loudly like to admit that, 
I don't care if it's a remake of a foreign film,
or I don't watch anything else other than Hindi films 
or Who cares how they have deviated from the original to feature my favourite star 
or No, I am not interested in watching the original even if its easily available at a click……..,
then obviously (in all possibilities) you will like and appreciate BADLA as its indeed a well enacted and courageous film to adapt, mostly staying within a room revolving around just two characters, which is certainly not an easy choice for a commercially viable film in the present scenario. Also since Hindi Cinema has lately not been too interested in giving us some intriguing mystery movies, BADLA deserves to be applauded as an unconventional and more than decent attempt too, which might open the closed doors of this particular 'missed' genre in future.
As expected, both Amitabh and Tapsee shine in their given tough roles, but Tapsee still struggles to give some new expressions we haven’t earlier seen in her previous films. On the other hand Amitabh once again proves that here is an actor in his 70s for whom Hindi Cinema still needs to write better films and roles at the earliest and he plays the lawyer with an amazing, lovable ease. However in a weak supporting cast, no one else makes a mark except Amrita Singh and the foreign actor as her husband really looks awkward (though they had to keep him as per the need of the twist)
(*Character Change Spoilers Ahead as also shown in the trailer - not anywhere revealing the real mystery)
As a director, Sujoy Ghosh makes a brave choice but decides to make his own changes suiting the typical mindset of Hindi Cinema where the male star has to be on the front seat unconditionally (and the film ironically also releases on Women’s Day of the year mocking the celebrations).
So the first thing he does in the remake is the gender reversal of the lead, bringing in Amitabh Bachchan in the front that eventually had to be balanced with a woman on the opposite as the victim roping in Tapsee – which is exactly the reverse of what you get to see in the original film. 
Moreover these forced changes actually make the narrative pretty obvious and also mild in comparison to the sudden twists and shocks of the Spanish original. To be specific, just the presence of Amitabh Bachchan in the lead makes you easily guess the finale twist, which certainly would have been much less predictable had it been a non-superstar playing the same role. 
No doubt, the pre-set image and status of a SUPER STAR actually does affect the predictability factor in a mystery film.
Secondly as a partially loyal remake Ghosh doesn’t present the characters or story happening in any Indian region, but stages it all in a foreign country which again makes the narration less relatable with the viewers expecting an Indianised mystery. 
But most importantly, I still cannot believe that the creative team behind the film so unintelligently decided to call it BADLA when the badla (revenge) itself was supposed to be the hidden twist in the end revealing the actual identity. Frankly that was the most bizarre title of a mystery film for me that simply reveals the complete mystery in the chosen word.
Just around two hours in duration, the songless BADLA has a grigping flow with logical flaws (that still can be ignored) but too much talking in the scenes becomes a bit annoying after a point repeating the ‘Rashomon’ kind of perspectives – which mind you - isn’t anywhere felt while watching the original film. Besides though the background score is adequate, the VFX should have been much better keeping in mind the banner and really wasn’t expecting an actor like Manav Kaul getting wasted in such an unimportant role.
So in all honesty this certainly is a brave and tough choice of subject for a Hindi mystery film that delivers the shock in its climax but at the same time is not an outstanding remake mainly due to the questionable change of genders, casting and title - that easily gives away the twist much before its actually revealed.
Coming back to the fresh present scenario of AVAILABILITY.  As explained above, now it all depends upon what you personally wish to see and what kind of cinematic experience you are looking for in the choice of films you have in front at a click.
In this particular case, BADLA is an official remake/adaptation of an exceptionally well-made Spanish film THE INVISIBLE GUEST (available at Netfilx) and you can just see the difference between the vision of two directors by studying their respective titles alone if nothing else. Interestingly, the original is named as The Invisible Guest - keeping the mystery intact and the Hindi version is named Badla - clearly revealing the very twist that was supposed to be the mystery. Putting it differently where the original is pretty sharp, clever and highly enjoyable, the adaptation just pretends to be clever making its own unrequired changes affecting the entire premise. 
In short, if you are willing to let go of a far better experience of watching the original, praising a just fine remake with only good performances featuring your favourite stars, then you can go for BADLA first following your personal biases, as that will  also not disappoint for sure.
But in case you are greedy enough to witness the cinematic magic on screen through the easily available masterpiece in the comfort of your home, then essentially go for THE INVISIBLE GUEST (with English subtitles) first and then watch BADLA later to satisfy your urge as a fan.
On a concluding note,
in the present world of Netflix, Prime and many other official movie platforms streaming the originals too, now it all depends upon how you want your cinema to be served and enjoyed making a wise choice  ...... stirred, shaken or stirred not shaken just like the Bond.
So the choice is all yours as always.
Rating : 3 / 5 (including an additional 0.5 for the courage of adapting such a tough subject and getting it approved too by the corporate-financers.) 

Note : Based abroad this murder mystery still has a Punjabi connect as usual. However this time it's not the songs but names of its key characters as Rani Kaur, Sunny Singh Toor and Nirmal Singh Toor. Hindi Cinema certainly has a deep dependence on Punjabis in one or the other way.


Friends interested in reading about THE INVISIBLE GUEST (Spanish), please click at the link below for its BTC write-up by Bobby Sing.

Tags : BADLA Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing, Hindi Official Remakes of Spanish Films, BADLA and THE INVISIBLE GUEST, Hindi inspired movies.
08 Mar 2019 / Comment ( 2 )

I am dying to share a flaw I noticed that the people I watched the movie with did not care about.

In one of the dialogs, Manav Kaul jokes that he's Amitabh Bachchan, if Tapsee's character is lying.

Meaning, in the universe that Badla takes place, Amitabh Bachchan exists. A lawyer named Badal Gupta, who looks identical to Amitabh Bacchan and also sounds like Amitabh Bacchan, she should have been able to figure out that this is Amitabh Bacchan and not Badal Gupta.

Phew; feeling good to have written this down and posted here. :)

Bobby Sing

Thats an interesting catch indeed Parth.
Thanks for sharing it here and I will surely keep in mind watching it again as soon as it releases online.

Keep Visiting and Writing in,

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