Direction: Ribhu Dasgupta
Actors: Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
TE3N left me with lukewarm emotions. The film, directed by Ribhu Dasgupta and co-produced by Sujoy Ghosh, isn’t actively bad. But apart from the inventive rendering of the title, little feels fresh or original.
TE3N is an official remake of the Korean thriller Montage. The tonality is similar to Sujoy’s own infinitely superior Kahaani, which was also a thriller set in Kolkata and which also starred Vidya Balan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Amitabh Bachchan plays John Biswas, an elderly man trying to solve his granddaughter’s murder. He is bent over with guilt and sadness. Every single day, he goes to the police station, hoping to find a clue that will lead to the murderer.
Vidya plays Sarita, a tough-talking cop who gently tries to persuade him to find closure. Martin, played by Nawazudddin, was the original cop on the case. He is now a priest. Eight years after the incident, the three find themselves retracing their steps when another child is kidnapped.
These three are among the best actors currently working in Hindi cinema. But despite their presence, TE3N doesn’t soar. The first half is slow and strangely inert. The pace picks up in the second half but the resolution is predictable. It doesn’t help that Vidya and Nawaz seem to be on autopilot. And why has Martin become a priest? Because he couldn’t solve one case?
The screenplay, by Suresh Nair, Ritesh Shah and Bijesh Jayarajan, doesn’t give them any particularly memorable scenes or even lines.
But a few things stayed with me – Tushar Kanti Ray’s cinematography; the Kolkata that he and Ribhu capture. I’ve seen these visuals in Kahaani, Piku, Barfi!, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! but still, you can feel the beating heart of a decaying city.
And above all, Mr. Bachchan. Here is an actor who has been on screen for 47 years. And yet, watching him doesn’t induce fatigue. He makes you care.
Sadly, not enough to make TE3N essential viewing.