Bejoy Nambiar made an entry with Shaitaan, the braggadocio version of Anurag Kashyap’s Paanch that unabashedly celebrated the engulfing entropy. While it wasn’t all that impressive, you could see what was attractive about Nambiar. With his sophomore venture he proved that he wasn’t just all style. He could bring those flourishes to tell a micro story with all those awe-inspiring quirks and landscaping. Like Vikram and Tabu’s section in David or to some extent even Neil Nitin Mukesh’s. A lot of that is missing in Wazir. Whatever you could accuse Nambiar of, lazy filmmaking wasn’t one. But Wazir is lazily made and its 102 minutes feel longer. Yet for the material here they could have as well taken their time and fleshed it out better. The one line idea of Wazir would have seemed like a solid film. Maybe that’s what Vidhu Vinod Chopra is credited with – “Original Story By”.
Where there is Nambiar, there is slow motion. And so begins Wazir detailing the life of Daanish Ali (Farhan Akhtar) and Ruhana Ali (Aditi Rao Hydari) from their arranged marriage to a happy household with a daughter. Wazir is also a micro story. It doesn’t bother itself with save the world or save the country machinations. It is about two individuals brought together by shared fate and a quest for personal revenge. Or are they? Amitabh Bachchan plays a chess mad Omkarnath Dhar , an immobile Kashmiri Pandit who takes under his wings for his agenda a Muslim man. The politics in Wazir may be loaded but the writing and Nambiar, neither seem to do much with it. It’s all there just on the surface. It comes across as both irresponsible and a lost opportunity to treat a story packed with historic tension with such frivolity.
This is the second film in as many years where a man named Daanish apprentices with the authoritarian voice of Amitabh Bachchan, the first being last year’s Shamitabh. That pithy observation aside, Wazir too like Shamitabh is a spectacular failure between what’s on paper and what’s on screen. Nambiar is also not so deft in switching between the Daanish-Ruhana relationship story and the Daanish-Omkarnath story. The former was already done with great effect in the opening credits. At one point the film turns into a cat and mouse chase and it is Daanish who becomes the immobile cat. Daanish makes an error of judgement early on in the film and never quite recovers from it to be up to this task. The task itself disappears as quickly as it was brought up changing the terrain of the film. Where are Nambiar’s flourishes when Daanish is trying to stop Omkarnath from going to Kashmir? Where are Nambiar’s flourishes when Daanish finally confronts the main antagonist? Bad films only leave a bad taste in your mouth. But films like Wazir that had great potential upset your stomach.
(An edited version of this was published in The New Indian Express)