We won’t lie to you when we say that we did a fangirl whooping cry seeing the first teaser of this film. The poster teased us with an 80s vintage image of a wizened looking Amitabh Bachchan driving around in a worn-down Bajaj scooter with Nawazuddin Siddiqui riding pillion. When two of the finest actors of our age are in such a visage which is basically every other person on the street who doesn’t even register in your visual spectrum, it immediately grabs your attention.
Te3n (not pronounced as Tay-three-en), directed by Ribhu Dasgupta is a crime thriller based in the dark and crumbling back-alleys of the forgotten Kolkata. This imagery of fragility and oblivion is a concurrent theme throughout the film, which is accurately portrayed through old dilapidated buildings and tenements. John Biswas, played by Bachchan is a guilt-ridden old man who has been frequenting his local police station every day for any news on the kidnapper who had abducted his grand-daughter Angela Roy eight years back. Siddiqui was the Police officer who had been assigned to find Angela. In an operation to retrieve her from the kidnapper, there had been an accident which had resulted in Angela’s death. This tragedy had seared so deep into Siddiqui’s psyché that to overcome this undying feeling of failure, he quits the department and becomes a ordained priest in the local church in a desperate attempt to move on. Bachchan on the other hand is unable to sleep or find peace until the culprit is brought to justice which keeps him unwaveringly focussed on finding any sliver of a clue that may lead him to the end.
Te3n is a classic example of great actors playing badly written characters.
At the risk of sounding clichéd, Bachchan is perhaps the only good thing about this film. If you are outraged by the previous line and extend the argument saying – “Whoa hey, what about Nawaz huh ?” Well, that’s where the glaring flaws in this film start to show. Te3n is a classic example of great actors playing badly written characters. Bachchan’s character being the epicentre of the plot, is perhaps the only character which keeps the credibility and believability of the story alive. The portrayal of a man who refuses to be broken down by time is powerful. The radius of this unforgiving aura of his, permeates every aspect of the story. The rest of the characters, unfortunately, just seem to be mere props who are there just to fill the shots where we do not have Bachchan in the frame. Nawaz’s character is so lackadaisically projected that after our biased respect for the actor wears out, the character becomes straight annoying and we start asking – “What the hell is his role here?” There is one point where we feel a Sherlock-Watson moment seeing them riding together looking for clues but it ends there sadly. In the rest of the search, its just Bachchan who rides around town following trails while Siddiqui hangs around the Police station with the excruciatingly dumb Police who don’t seem to be able to connect even the simplest of dots in the investigation. Vidya Balan, another of our favourite actors, is so unconvincingly written that she seems to base all allegations on the flimsiest of evidences and is yet shown to be a smart and intelligent officer otherwise. Oh, by the way, we still don’t get it why Balan is introduced as a “Guest appearance” in the starting credits when she is present throughout the film leading the investigation. There is an unnecessary spark shown between Balan and Siddiqui which has absolutely no purpose in the story but to provide a laughable reason using which Balan convinces Siddiqui to help her in the search. Another nail to the credibility-coffin of both characters.
Te3n had all the elements of an endearing thriller. The imagery was perfectly executed and the mood was set for the rest of the film. Bachchan was rock-solid in his performance. The plot, although clichéd in many aspects, was still workable. But as you proceed deeper into the story, the dark and gritty aspect is diluted to such an extent that you stop caring for each and every character. All the effort that Bachchan puts into building the foundation is exponentially undone by the time, the plot is explained. The catharsis of eight years of despair and gloom is so loosely presented and non-existent that you almost get angry at the director for wasting away what could have been something akin to David Fincher’s Se7en starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt. If you are screwing up with a cast like Bachan and Siddiqui, there’s something seriously wrong.
The catharsis of eight years of despair and gloom is so loosely presented and non-existent that you almost get angry at the director for wasting away what could have been something akin to David Fincher’s Se7en starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt. If you are screwing up with a cast like Bachan and Siddiqui, there’s seriously something wrong.
The journey of the audience from the fangirl moment to that of utter disappointment is, literally, hurtful. We sincerely request Mr. Dasgupta, to take his time in this next film and write characters which have a defined function. Casting actors just for their fan-following may give you a good opening weekend but it would never create an endearing experience on its own. Every character needs to be able to justify his/her place in the story. We would have absolutely loved it if Bachchan and Siddiqui had worked together till the very end. Both had their motives and inner demons which needed to be slain. Siddiqui could have been written a tad deeper wherein he is riddled with flashes of the accident and has become a nervous wreck. Intensity is an element which not only makes the catharsis much more impactful but also gives more layers to each character through an unsettling urgency.
Lastly, why the name “Te3n” ? Just ‘cause we have three unevenly motivated characters looking for a criminal ? Talk about subtlety !
gobblpoint: Even after reading this, if you are still looking for a reason to watch this film, you are probably a huge fan of Bachchan and/or Siddiqui. We don’t blame you…
Disclaimer: The image used in this post is the sole property of the makers of this film and is not owned by us in any form whatsoever.