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Te3n review: An engaging mystery headlined by Bachchan's brilliance

Directed by Ribhu Dasgupta, the suspense thriller is also a compelling story.

Suparna Thombare

Film: Te3n (U/A)
Director: Ribhu Dasgupta
Producer: Sujoy Ghosh
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Rating: 3/5

Director Ribhu Dasgupta, who earlier directed a psychological thriller, Michael (2011), resorts to retelling the story of a Korean film, titled Montage, in the form of Te3n.

The story has been set in Kolkata's Anglo-Indian community, and reworked, putting an old man at the centre of the mystery instead of the mother, as in the original.

Te3n is the story of a grandfather, John Biswas (Amitabh Bachchan), who is haunted by the kidnapping and murder of his granddaughter, Angela. For eight years, he has been visiting the police station every day, where an officer (Vidya Balan) often persuades him to stop his daily visits. He also seeks the help of Martin (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), who was the investigating officer at the time of the crime and has now become a priest in a local church. All John wants is to know what transpired and to bring the perpetrator to justice. His search intensifies as an important clue lands up in front of him.

But things take a bizarre turn when another kid is abducted in a strikingly similar fashion and the criminal follows the same pattern as in the case of Angela. Father Martin is roped in to draw on his experience, and he now has another chance to redeem himself by solving this mystery once and for all.

The story-telling then splits into two parallel narratives — one where Bachchan is investigating his granddaughter's kidnapping, and the other, where Vidya and Siddiqui are trying to get hold of the kidnapper in the new case. This is an amazing device, but, unfortunately, a major part of the mystery becomes quite obvious very early on, leading to a predictable plot-line. From there on, it is only a matter of watching how it all unfolds. It's not an edge-of-the-seat thriller. And there is no ‘oh my God’ moment in this journey. 

Though it is the unfolding of the mystery that takes centre-stage, the part where the storytelling succeeds is in drawing an emotional connection with the characters played by Bachchan and Siddiqui.

Bachchan is brilliant as the old man haunted by the past and determined to uncover the truth. The sadness and the searching look in his eyes, his desperate scooter rides, the helplessness in his body language and the method to his madness – he is just exquisite. He proves once again why he continues to be a master class in acting at this age. 

Nawazuddin Siddiqui once again brings his A-game to the fore, in the role of the guilt-ridden cop who tries to make peace with his conscience by becoming a priest, but continues to wrestle with himself.

Though she has ample screen time, Vidya plays a role that is scantily etched on paper.

Like in Kahaani (2012), the city of Kolkata plays an important character here, watching over John as he goes through his daily struggle to uncover the truth. Unfortunately, comparisons to Sujoy Ghosh's film (Ghosh is also the producer of Te3n) are inevitable. Apart from the fact that the two films are suspense thrillers set in Kolkata, both have a helpless protagonist determined to find the truth and a suspenseful investigation. Two of the investigators are also the same — Vidya and Nawazuddin.

Where Dasgupta succeeds is in telling an emotional and compelling story with enough elements of suspense to keep you engaged. Where he fails is in making it a wow mystery. Nonetheless, this one is worth watching, if not for the suspense, then at least for Bachchan’s brilliance.