Life is the biggest illusion of all times. Hindus believe that this world is merely a playground where we all mortals are undergoing hardship-training to get prepared for an afterlife called death. What is that afterlife like no one has a clue. However, going by experiential knowledge, it cannot be worse than what we are going through right now while we are still ‘alive’. The moot question here is, are we actually living, though clinically speaking, we are breathing in and out without any internal or external hindrance?
Perhaps, for some, the answer is yes and for others, it is no. Those who have a pessimistic view may have reasons to harbour cynicism. Those who always see rainbows at the end of a deluge are the ever optimistic survivors born to conquer the ills and blaze the trail.
For me, life has always been a dilemma between right and wrong, between ease and unease, between righteousness and self-indulgence. Do I follow this path or the other? Is it correct to do it this way or that way? Am I choosing the easy get-a-way over a difficult course of action? Am I always to be in such a state of indecisiveness and self-castigation? Do I always have to repeat the mistakes from which I never seem to learn lessons and move on?
It is obvious that the answers are not always a strict affirmative or non-affirmative. It never is and never will be. The only wise action, in all situation, is to tight rope walk on thin lines of correctness and incorrectness, right and wrong, ease and unease, conviction and compromise before the demarcates get blurred unalterably, making it absolutely impossible to leap backwards, erase one’s faulty footsteps and start afresh.
What makes life so hazardous, so problematic, so confoundingly chaotic? Is it our unwise decisions born out of foolish impulses? Or the drive to fulfill those ever-niggling ambitions which are not to materialize anyhow? And what happens when our dreams deceive us day and night? It is then that we take recourse to willful engineering and devious maneuvering. We wish not only to will the course of life but also the people that we are associated with or around us. We, use them as pawns in our game of ulterior motives, seldom realizing that in doing so, we ourselves become pawns in the larger game of this cosmos.
No! You are wrong. No calamitous event has despaired me. No catastrophe in my uneventful life has instigated such philosophical ruminations. No disaster has made me distraught enough to conclude that life is nothing but a hopeless mirage. No! Life, in the final analysis, is not a mirage, but an overpowering mind game. A mind game which distracts as much as it stimulates, baffles as much as it motivates, checkmates as much as it stalemates…..
These are the thoughts which nibbled and nagged me as I sat on the edge of my seat watching Pandit Onkarnath Dhar (Amitabh Bacchan) consistently manipulate ATS Officer, Danish Ali (Farhan Akhtar), in the most engaging manner, in the name of friendship, the gripping drama made all the more riveting, by the spellbinding performances of both the stalwarts. Coupled with that, the tight script, the taut direction and excellent execution of an unusual story-line made “Wazir“, a fascinating experience.
Danish Ali loses his daughter, Noorie, in a sudden encounter with a wanted terrorist named Rameez. Ruhana (Aditi Rao Hydari), Danish’s wife, blames him for their daughter’s untimely death. A broken Danish takes revenge by killing Rameez in the midst of a well-planned encounter to capture the culprit live to get him to reveal the name of the politician he has secret alliance with. The ATS top brass feels that Danish has bungled the entire operation beyond redemption. He is suspended and is about to commit suicide when life takes an unexpected turn.
Danish meets Pandit Onkar Nath Dhar, an ace chess-instructor a dauntless survivor of life’s Tsunami, abandoned on the shore of his last inning, confined to wheel chair yet bubbling with the spirit to fight back. Danish, needless to say, is irresistibly drawn to this enigmatic man, who on one hand mentors him to come to terms with his grief, and on the other, systematically eggs him to investigate his daughter, Nina’s death, who had supposedly died of a fall in Yezad Qureshi (Manav Kaul), the Welfare Minister’s residence where she would pay regular visits to teach Roohi, the Minister’s daughter, the game of chess.
Danish’s purposeless life now finds an anchor in Panditji’s relentless strife for justice. But does Danish know that unwittingly enough he is being drawn into a death-defying plotting of intricate conspiracy, wherein he is just a pawn in the game, like so many of his ilk, in the hands of a mysterious, faceless and nameless vizier?
A little far-fetched, a little over-the-top, a little inconsistent, nonetheless, engrossing, intriguing, incredibly fresh, Wazir, in a span of one hundred and four minutes, captivates the mind of the audience in a puzzling game of well thought of moves and retreats. The whirlwind narrative is, indeed, essential to the plot. It takes time for the viewers to grapple with the speed with which the frames shift from one plane to the other. Perhaps a little more time should have been given to the characters to develop and the sequences to unfold rather lucidly. Having said that, one cannot blame an expert like Bejoy Nambiar, for not letting even a slip of a moment for the spectators’ grip to loosen or gaze to falter from the screen.
The implausible account has been made unbelievably believable by the stupendous acting prowess of not only the veterans but also the equally newer talents. Manav Kaul is an on-screen power to reckon with! Big B steals the show. Akhtar Junior is not far behind. Hindi Cinema is coming of age. Movies like Wazir are burning examples of revenue grossing mainstream films with uncommon themes. It is not only the screen play or the enactment but the overall treatment, composition of frames and interesting and intelligent usage of background score that notch up the cinematic build up and story-telling to greater heights. It is also refreshing to note how infrequently and peripherally flash backs have been used to recreate the past. Big B’s recitation in place of a voice-over is a superlative directorial experimentation. At the same time, it would have been more effective if the reliance on lyrics for conveyance of emotional upsurge or turmoil could have been minimized.
We Indians, have been, from our very childhood fed with the staple diet of the Good ultimately emerging victorious over the Evil, however powerful that be. Thus, our psyche is attuned to this nuance to such a massive extent that anything which is opposite or not exactly in sync with the notion is a defeatist’s pogrom, and thus, arguably undervalued.
Throughout the narrative, the implausibility of the story, however elating that be, strikes as ridiculous. The amount of money poured into the making of a Bollywood venture foretells its debacle. The total lack of concern for sourcing funds manifests the weakness in the script. In the entire game-plan, the audience is left in the dark how Yezad Qureshi, once a Pashmina weaver comes to walk the corridors of power, how a physically handicapped octogenarian Onkarnath Dhar finances an elaborate game-plan and how a suspended ATS Officer manages to garner enough infrastructural back-up and support to stage a total wipe-off on a massive terrorist group singlehandedly.
So, again coming back to reality …..The hapless pawn becoming the victorious vizier is indeed a challenging win-over. But how many of us get the opportunity of a life-time to turn the table on our stunned opponent by our mind-boggling moves? How many of us eventually witness poetic justice, or rather, make it happen? How many of us graduate from being an exhausted pawn to an exhilarated vizier, in one’s life span?
Point to be noted Mr. Vidhu Vinod Chopra…. !!!
But again a game of chess is a patrician’s prerogative and not a plebeian’s privilege, isn’t it?