Promising moves gone awry

Saibal Chatterjee
A stylish thriller that could have done with more substance, Wazir falls way short of forcing a win with its twists and turns.
Bejoy Nambiar’s third directorial venture after Shaitaan and David has many of the visual and technical elements that are characteristic of his style.
The film is slickly mounted and marvellously shot by cinematographer Sanu John Varughese, but its moves are rather erratic. Many of the plot ploys it resorts to do not have the desired impact. The reason: they lack subtlety.
Wazir is the story of a hot-headed ATS officer, Daanish Ali (Farhan Akhtar), who loses his four-year-old daughter during a shootout with terrorists. Beside himself with grief, he defies his superiors and barges in on a commando raid on a sleeper cell to seek revenge. He kills the terrorist, but gets suspended from the force for exceeding his brief. His wife, Kathak exponent Ruhaana (Aditi Rao Hydari), does not forgive him for his recklessness and walks out on him.
Daanish finds solace in the company of a chess master, the wheelchair-bound Pandit Omkar Nath Dhar (Amitabh Bachchan), who, on his part, has also had a tragic live.
The older gentleman, who lost his legs and his wife in a serious accident, has reason to believe that the recent mysterious death of his only daughter was a murder.
He enlists Daanish’s help to get to the bottom of the case against all odds. He has to contend with a powerful politician (Manav Kaul) with a very dark secret buried in a village in Kashmir Valley.
It is a dauntingly difficult and dangerous fight, but Daanish plunges into the mission to ensure that his new friend gets justice.
One night, Panditji is attacked by a man called Wazir (Neil Nitin Mukesh). The latter makes his allegiances and intentions as clear as daylight.
The first half of Wazir is intriguing and brisk enough to hold the attention of the audience. But post-interval, the film loses momentum.
The screenplay (Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Abhijat Joshi) leaves nothing to the imagination. The battle lines between the villain and the vengeance seekers are so clearly, and so quickly, drawn that the audience has no guesswork to do. As a consequence, Wazir surrenders its trump card rather too tamely. Despite the riveting performances by Bachchan and Akhtar, the film is not the humdinger that it could have been with sharper treatment.
Hydari is shortchanged by the script. Her character is given little space to develop fully. Yet, she makes an impression, especially in the scenes where she is allowed to communicate with her silences. Kaul, too, has limited footage but does not let that come in the way of his performance.
Wazir is not half the film that it could have had the script had left a little more in the shadows instead of taking recourse to over-explication. But all said and done, Wazir is anything but a washout. Watch it for the sustained quality of the acting.