Review: TE3N

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vidya Balan, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty

Direction: Ribhu Dasgupta

Ribhu Dasgupta’s ‘TE3N’ is an intriguing tale – a grandfather’s quest for justice and closure – that tugs at your heartstrings.

John Biswas’s (Amitabh Bachchan) eight-year-old granddaughter Angela was kidnapped and killed. Biswas for the past eight years has been hopelessly following up with the authorities, with no leads in the case; the police have almost given up on finding the abductor.

The cop, who was then handling the case, Martin Das (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) in seeking his own redemption has found solace as a priest. He refuses to be haunted by the past but it is not all that easy for Biswas.

After the death of his daughter, Angela was entrusted to his care and it is impossible for him to let go. When after years of searching in vain, Biswas stumbles over a clue, he is relentless in his pursuit of the perpetrator of the crime.

The hapless grandfather blinded by grief and loss seems to be fighting a lone battle, till a similar case resurfaces after all these years.

While the narrative is interesting, the story just takes too much time to unfold.

The film is a thriller based in Kolkata and is produced by Sujoy Ghosh, thus, comparisons to ‘Kahaani’ are inevitable. The tension in Ghosh’s ‘Kahaani’ was inescapable; it was as if, if you merely shifted your position in the seat, something terrible would happen. Dasgupta’s story though very engaging, never really grips you in that way. There are moments of edge-of-the-seat tension, especially during the build-up to the interval but for the most part, the tale progresses at an unhurried pace.

A vulnerable child’s life is at stake and it’s impossible to buy the police’s simplistic theory. It is all the more improbable that no one other than Das sees through this and is keen to explore other options. I specifically found it appalling that Sarita Sarkar (Vidya Balan) is so dismissive of Das’s concerns, when she knows that he used to be an expert on such kidnappings during his tenure as a cop.

It is Amitabh Bachchan’s performance that keeps you hooked till the end, even when you sort of guess, what must have transpired.

Bachchan is flawless as the bereaved grandfather. He makes his lonely struggle seem your own. For anyone who has known a grandparent’s love knows how unconditional it is. And how impossible it is to come to terms with the tragic loss of one’s own. At times it feels like Biswas’s life stopped still the day he lost Angela. His daily routine, his stubborn pursuit, and his unrelenting search – it is as if he is stuck in a time warp.

He reminded me of my own grandfather – day-old grey stubble, the moist eyes, the ageing face and the structure of man who was once handsome and almost invincible. It breaks your heart that he has to reach out to so many people to just help him, that age might have made him vulnerable and weak but his spirit is still indomitable.

It’s captivating to see Bachchan plays his part with such competence and brilliance.

On the other hand, Nawazuddin’s performance was a tad underwhelming. Maybe the script didn’t do complete justice to his role. But while this cop-turned-priest gets the body language bang on, it is a little disappointing that he isn’t seen contributing more to the scheme of things. We are so used to seeing Siddiqui sink his teeth into complex roles like this one, that I was left a little disappointed here.

The film works on many accounts but it feels too long for a thriller.