Film Review: ‘Badla’ sinks in a quagmire of plot imperfections

A still from Bollywood flick ‘Badla.’ YouTube
Updated 13 March 2019
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Film Review: ‘Badla’ sinks in a quagmire of plot imperfections

CHENNAI: After a few flops, Sujoy Ghosh directed two engaging pieces of work — “Kahaani” in 2012 and “Kahaani 2” in 2016. His genre has been thrillers, and he sticks to it in his latest outing in Scotland, set mostly in Glasgow.

Titled “Badla” or “Revenge,” this is a near-faithful adaptation of the 2016-17 Spanish murder-mystery, “Contratiempo,” or “The Invisible Guest,” by Oriol Paulo, now streaming on Netflix.

Badla is a typical whodunnit with a couple of murders and a pretty suspect, Naina Sethi, played by Taapsee Pannu, who pairs with Amitabh Bachchan once again (as they did in “Pink”). 

Like in “Pink,” Bachchan is a lawyer in “Badla.” As Badal Gupta, he is tasked with defending Naina, whose  fling outside her happy marriage has gone horribly wrong. She finds herself in a hotel room with her lover, Arjun (Tony Luke), killed. She is arrested for murder, but gets out on bail with the help of her close lawyer friend, Jimmy Punjabi (Manav Kaul). Woven into this sticky situation are two more characters, an elderly couple — Nirmal (Tanveer Ghani) and Rani (Amrita Singh) — whose son goes missing, and there appears to be a link between this disappearance and Arjun’s death.

“Badla” looks ethereal, with cinematographer Avik Mukhopadhyay capturing Scotland in all its splendour — its misty mornings adding to the air of mystery. But unfortunately, these picture-postcard images serve as mere embellishments to a plot and performance that are disappointing. Bachchan brings little novelty to his role. As for Pannu, she fails to get her act together as a crime suspect whose position as a celebrated businesswoman and as a mother as well as a wife is in peril. Not much of an effort appears to have gone into developing these characters.

And the plot itself has far too many holes and convenient coincidences. Of course, Ghosh would say that he merely followed the Spanish original. But what stopped him from reworking the story and the script to give us a believable narrative?


Calling all cat lovers: Dubai art gallery spotlights strays

Artist Angel-O takes to the streets of Dubai to photograph stray cats. Angel-O/FN Designs
Updated 23 March 2019
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Calling all cat lovers: Dubai art gallery spotlights strays

DUBAI: FN Designs, a gallery in Dubai’s artsy Alserkal Avenue, is spotlighting street cats in a new exhibition by artist-photographer Angel-O until April 30.

The multidisciplinary art and design studio chose to highlight the Filipino photographer’s work in a bid to raise awareness about the situation of strays in the UAE.

The exhibition opened in March with a panel discussion titled “Catnip.” The artist was joined by Nour Fakher, a vet at Blue Oasis Clinic, and Sara Abdelal, a cat rescuer in Dubai.

The artist started his journey when his landlord enforced a strict no-pet policy. Angel-O took to the streets to photograph stray cats in order to remain close to the animals.

Artist Angel-O takes to the streets of Dubai to photograph stray cats. Angel-O/FN Designs

“Most of these photos are taken in different parts of Dubai, in the nooks and crannies of streets,” he said, referring to his collection of photographs, which were taken in 2014 but shown for the first time in this show.

 “I am so glad my artwork is able to help these cats. I’ve had people come up and enquire about the location of the photograph so they could go back and help the cat in the picture,” he said.

 “I’m really relieved that people find this collection… of mine moving.”

Cat rescuer Abdelal stressed the importance of the TNR method of treating strays — trapping, neutering and releasing them.

“While we are trying to help find a safe home or habitat for the existing cats on our streets, let’s prevent their number from increasing. These animals can’t speak to us, we need to find a way to understand and help them,” she said.  

The UAE government has made moves to reduce the number of street cats through newly mandated animal welfare regulations that were handed down by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment in December.

A failure to properly care for animals, including dumping pets, is now punishable by law in the country.