Director: Bejoy Nambiar
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar, Aditi Roy Hydari
In theory, Wazir ticks all the boxes — a script by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Abhijat Joshi, the exciting genre of the thriller, a cast of Farhan Akhtar and Amitabh Bachchan, and a short run time of just over an hour-and-a-half. If that’s all you’re looking for in a Hindi film, you’ll doubtless leave entertained. But if you’re looking for more — strong characters, nuance, believability — be prepared for disappointment.
Akhtar plays Danish, an officer with the Delhi Anti-Terrorist Squad, whose picture-perfect life is turned on its head when his child is killed during a shoot-out. His wife Ruhana (Hydari) blames him for what happened and leaves, and he’s depressed enough to end things with a gun to the head. A literal light at the end of the tunnel stops him from pulling the trigger, and he finds a wallet that leads him to a wheelchair-bound chess wizard named Pandit Omkarnath (Bachchan), who runs a workshop that combines chess and dance.
Pandit has been scarred by a personal tragedy much like Danish’s, and this draws the two men together. Up to this point, Wazir is gripping. Akhtar owns the screen with his compelling, wounded presence. Unfortunately, the moment Pandit’s story arc kicks in, the film begins to unravel. The death knell is rung when Neil Nitin Mukesh fetches up inexplicably, hamming as if his life depended on it, and accompanied by a hovering, holographic image of a flaming knife. It’s an onslaught of such tackiness that you begin to lose hope. The film is further hobbled by a shoddily-thrown-together romantic angle and lack of character development. Pandit’s life is threatened, and we’re never sure why Danish cares so much.
What really hurts Wazir is the fact that the mystery itself is thin, illogical and predictable. The ‘twist’ looms over you from the halfway mark, and is so ridiculous that you begin to hope it won’t happen; yearn for a smarter reveal. But in vain. The climax is as you feared, except much noisier, as if volume equalled cinematic power. Ultimately, Wazir feels like an opportunity squandered. It’s one of the few Hindi films that could have benefited from more run time. More’s the pity.