'Main bahut pachhta rahi hoon...', as Naina Sethi (Taapsee Pannu) quips this phrase for the umpteen time while narrating a sequence of events to her lawyer Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan), the latter mockingly says that he along with the inanimate objects in the room know it and that she should instead come straight to the truth without wasting any time. It's commendable how director Sujoy Ghosh diffuses the tension with such streaks of humour in this latest crime-thriller, 'Badla'.
Naina Sethi (Taapsee Pannu), a svelte businesswoman is accused of murdering her lover Arjun (Tony Luke) with whom she was allegedly having an extramarital affair. As the fear of her family life and successful business empire crumbling down seeps in, she gets her lawyer Jimmy (Manav Kaul) to hire a senior attorney Badal Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan) to defend her case.
Badal soon lands up at Naina's house to interrogate her. With just three hours in hand before an 'unidentified' witness testifies against Naina, the two race against the time with Naina narrating the events that led up to the crime and Badal looking beyond facts to devise a theory which proves her innocence.
Sujoy Ghosh's Badla is an official remake of the Spanish thriller 'The Invisible Guest', but with a gender reversal. The good part is that the director churns out a faithful adapation with minor tweaks to make it more palatable for the Indian audience.
The 'twists' and 'turns' largely succeed in keeping you on the edge of your seats. Sujoy Ghosh retains the soul of the Spanish film and gives you plenty of 'thrills'. On the flip-side, the film does have a couple of loose ends here and there but that doesn't spoil the show.
Speaking about the performance, Amitabh Bachchan delivers a nimble act and packs a punch with solid dialogues in his signature baritone. He plays the sharp legal figure with an amazing mastery. Despite the towering presence of an acting legend like Sr. Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu takes you by surprise as the layers of her role peel off with every revelation. Badla is easily one of her most impactful performances in her reportaire of films.
Amrita Singh's compelling act makes you wish the actress takes up more films and continue to charm us. Manav Kaul is effective in his brief role. Malayalam actor Tony Luke makes a top-notch Bollywood debut.
Avik Mukhopadhyay's tight cinematography creates the perfect ambience while Monisha R Baldawa keeps the narrative taut. Clinton Cerejo's background score adds many shades to the mood of the film.
With its fine detailing and superlative performances, Sujoy Ghosh's cleverly-crafted Badla makes you realize that sometimes you can't see what's right in front of you. I am going with 3.5 stars.