Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vidya Balan.
Dir by Ribhu Dasgupta.
Amitabh Bachchan is amazingly lucky that young filmmakers continue to be inspired by him and hunt for subjects that would justify his casting in the lead role—no other star of his generation works in such a variety of roles that are physically and emotionally challenging. Korea seems to be the new go-to spot for story ideas and Ribhu Dasgupta picks Montage, suitably rejigged and transplanted to Calcutta, that allows for all the dark atmpospherics required for an unusual thriller. Te3n—which borrows the stylised title from Hollywood movie Se7en— has a ruminative pace and is a lot more about aging, loneliness and grief than it is about solving a mystery.
Te3n simmers its story over eight years and keeps adding bits of emotion and thrill to whet the appetite. Three seasoned actors put their faith in an off-mainstream film and give it their best, but Bachchan gives a masterclass in acting once again.
John Biswas (Amitabh Bachchan) was traumatised by the kidnapping and murder of his granddaughter Angela eight years ago, and could not give up the search for the culprit, even when the cops deemed the case unsolvable.
Martin Das (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), who was the cop on Angela’s case, was so disturbed that he quit the force to become a priest. The third angle of the Te3n triangle is tenacious cop, Sarita Sharma (Vidya Balan). When a new case comes up—the kidnapping of Manohar’s (Sabyasachi Chakraborty) grandson—that mimics the eight-year-old kidnap-murder, the three start investigating and trying to finally unravel the mystery and get closure for the grieving grandfather.
In films, a man cannot be totally nondescript, especially when played by a star as charismatic as Bachchan, so his Biswas is given more than his share of quirks and a decrepit scooter that somehow goes with the landscape.
Dasgupta expertly builds up the sense of foreboding and intrigue, demands that the viewer pay attention and keep a lookout for clues, the way the trio of investigators do. There are flaws, but they are more acceptable in a film as sincere as this one than in a commercial potboiler.