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Chehre & Amitabh Bachchan’s Suspense Thrillers




With producer  Anand Pandit’s  Chehre  directed  by  Rumi Jaffrey on release , here’s looking at  5  of the  mighty Bachchan’s  finest suspense  thrillers  from the past.

1.     Parwana(1971): In this pre-Zanjeer  suspense thriller  the Big B  was  cast as an obsessive  lover  who  decides to  eliminate  his object of adoration’s  father  when the old man refuses to  let his daughter marry the stalker. The elaborate  murder-alibi plan was to die for. Directed by Jyoti Swaroop who  made one of  Indian cinema’s most successful comedies PadosanParwana  features  Big B in one  of  his most underrated  performances.

2.     Majboor(1974): Salim-Javed’s clever  adaptation of  the Charles Bronson  thriller Cold Sweat featured  the Big B  as a man who owns up to a murder he  did not commit. The  film directed  by Ravi Tandon(ravishing Raveena’s  dad) has many twists and turns that keep us glued to the end.Released  during the same  year  as  Manoj  Kumar’s Roti Kapada Aur Makaan  where  the  Big B shone in the  third lead, Majboor was one of Salim-Javed’s  most finely scripted  plots with twists  that gave the suspense thriller  a push  upwards.

3.     Benaam(1974): Based On  Alfred  Hithcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much  this underrated  thriller  directed by the  highly  underrated Narendra Bedi had  the Big B and Moushumi Chatterjee  as a workingclass  couple  whose  only child is  kidnapped   after they witness  a murder. The film had a terrific  theme song  composed  by R D Burman and sung by Narendra Chanchal.

4.     Wazir(2016): Written by  producer Vinod Chopra, along with Abhijat(Munnabhai) Joshi,Supriya Kelkar and Suketu Mehta this is quite comfortably the best Bachchan thriller in years.Our heart never stops leaping into our mouths at the twists and turns that the characters encounter in their journey towards an apocalyptic finale. The narrative displays the kind of fluent unpredictable and original writing that we would like to see more often in Hindi cinema.If only!….In its 1 hour and 40 minutes of playing-time Wazir gives us no time to stop and ruminate. The pace, though frenetic, never lacks in grace. Director Bejoy Nambiar whose two films so far Shaitaan and David are among my favourites in recent years, is a master of the craft. His visual aesthetics are completely affiliated to the characters’ innerspace. Since neither Mr Bachchan nor Farhan’s characters have  much to celebrate or feel happy about,  the film is shot, by cinematographer Sanu Verghese in dark brooding shades that suggest a tragic malfunction in the way God and politics work in our country.

5.     Badlaa(2018):  Amitabh Bachchan plays Badal Gupta, a hotshot lawyer on the verge of retirement who has never lost a case. Badal goes for the kill when he is invited to look into a case of a murder accused, a nonchalant imperturbable married woman named Naina Sethi (Taapsee Pannu)  whose morals are so reprehensible they make Indrani Mukerjea seem excusably misguided in comparison. Most of the time there are just Mr Bachchan and his accused (far from a victim) talking, exchanging barbed words and slanted glances that give nothing away. As we know the  Big B is adept at using words to express more than just what they want to say.There is a third crucial character, played by the powerful Amrita Singh who makes even an offer for a cup of tea seem like a stern rebuke. It’s a pity that there isn’t much of Ms Singh with Mr Bachchan together. What I wouldn’t give to see that Mard-slinging!

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