Wazir has been one of the passion projects for Vidhu Vinod Chopra for a while. First discussed almost ten years ago, the film is about a man who finds himself sucked into a battle which is not his own. Gripping in parts the film loses crucial momentum every now and then. The film which took over five years to be completed leaves a lot to be desired. The buildup of the tension is commendable but it is often defused with the background music, or under-written characters.
Written by Vikram Chandra, and Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the movie eases through the first half, before the pace picks up in the second half. At the center of proceedings is Farhan Akhtar, as a suspended ATS officer. He is convincing and underplays the character of Daanish Ali. On the other hand, Directed by Bejoy Nambiar who has previously made the interesting Shaitan, Wazir is only worth watching for its two lead actors.Nambiar is known to effectively integrate music into his films. One notable example of that is the track Khoya Khoya Chand sung by Suman Sridhar in Shaitan during the gun fight sequence which juxtaposed the violence of the proceedings with the serenity of the music. Wazir falls short in this respect. Although the music of Shantanu Moitra here is good in isolation, it rarely adds to the narrative flow.
In the pursuit of twists in the plot, the movie goes overboard and makes it predictable in its twistiness. The plot involves two men who find common ground in the deaths of their daughters, due to which their paths intertwine. One of them is Amitabh Bachchan as Pandit Omkarnath Dhar a disabled retired chess grandmaster who plays chess a lot and talks mostly in chess metaphors. Pandit’s daughter was killed in a freak accident. He suspects that she was murdered by the welfare minister. Manav Kaul as the two-faced minister is truly menacing and deserves to be seen more.
Amitabh Bachchan bites into the character with relish and makes it his own like only he can. The duo play an unlikely pair who bond over chess, vodka and silence. After a fine performance in Piku, Amitabh Bachchan returns and is in fine form.
Farhan Akhtar, as Daanish Ali mostly plays second fiddle to Amitabh Bachchan, and unwittingly becomes the brawn to Pandit’s brains. He brings a certain simplicity and restraint to the role of the suspended ATS officer, and proves that he is one of the finer younger actors out there. The chemistry between the two is heartwarming, but not enough to sustain the whole film. Aditi Rao Hydari plays the role of the estranged wife of Farhan Akhtar and spends most of her time looking sad or crying. Not much thought seems to have gone in fleshing out her character.
One of the driving aspects of most revenge fuelled pursuits in movies is a charismatic and memorable villain. Nawazuddin Sidiqqui from Badlapur springs to mind when it comes to such movies in recent times. Here, Neil Mukesh is thrust into the movie quite jarringly, and is the negative lead; Wazir. Considering the film is named after his character, Mukesh is out of place and seems to have walked out from a theatrical performance everytime he is onscreen. His portrayal of Wazir is caricaturish and the eye shadow does not help. While Pandit is on his way to the airport, Wazir calls Daanish and quips, “Main use plane ke bina hi hawa me uda doonga.” Such lines coupled with eye makeup end up creating a comic effect.
Briefly shot in the picturesque valleys of Kashmir, some of the final moments of action are filmed inside a hotel there, and the vast expanse of snow outside seems underutilized. The climactic action sequences involve John Abraham as S.P, a former aide of Daanish, who is helping him out. As they embark on the final battle together, Farhan, as Daanish Ali is on the quest of hunting down the elusive Wazir, while Abraham, as SP tags along and seems to be on his own quest of finding a facial expression.
The concluding twist in the plot is incredulous and requires a great amount of suspension of disbelief. The movie tries hard to build up suspense but fails more than it succeeds. Despite all its flaws, the screenplay deserves credit for tackling the theme of vengeance in a way that has been uncommon in recent times. There are no fits of murderous rage, or adrenalin fuelled heroes taking apart armies of men one at a time. There are calculative actions which are taken keeping the bigger picture in mind. There is an icy rage at the heart of the film, but sadly it is only epitomized by that solitary tall man who keeps getting better with age.