Remember that reasonably engrossing Hollywood thriller Se7en, in which two sleuths go looking for a serial killer with a thing for the seven deadly sins?
TE3N gimmicks its name similarly and gives us three characters in search of a criminal, but it doesn’t borrow any of the smarts from the Hollywood film. This official remake of a Korean mystery with a kidnapping and a death at its heart is a sluggish drag for the most part, brightened only occasionally by a scene or a line.
Bachchan plays John, an elderly man still stunned by grief, eight years after the death of a little girl. He will continue to search for the person who caused it, despite being dissuaded by people all around him : wheelchair-bound wife ( Padmavati Rao), sympathetic policewoman Sarita ( Balan), and cop-turned-priest Father Martin ( Nawaz). He will persist with his dogged pursuit for justice and truth whatever happens. (PHOTOS : Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan at TE3N press meet)
A fresh kidnapping turns on the spotlight on the old case again, and as new clues come to light, John’s search acquires an intensity and purpose, and we sense, as he does, the coming of an end which will lead to some answers and a sort of peace. (PICS: Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan unveil TE3N’s trailer)
This kind of dark story with vicious undertones ( whenever a little girl goes missing, a shiver goes down your spine) could have become a terrific morality play. How does a shocking death, especially of a young life, impact the living? Is it living or a counting out the days till your own passing? Is grief something you can ever get past? And how does guilt play out in all this?
TE3N is a case of sadly missed opportunities. Because there are rousing actors in here, and there’s a real city to play it all out in. Kolkata is a perfect location for a film like this with its atmospheric patches and the iconic Howrah-Hoogly vistas, reminding you of producer Sujoy Ghosh’s far more engaging ‘Kahaani’, but how a man clad in a dark hoody ( in sultry Kolkata) manages to move around those streets so freely remains an unsolvable mystery.
Its treatment does both place and characters in, turning everything lackadaisical. In its attempt to be less ‘dark’, loud background music is added in at each step. The plot has too much fuzz, and the characters are all surface : Bachchan’s droopy facial lines, Balan’s stolid-cop-stomping—these painstakingly drawn outlines call attention to themselves, but do not afford us inner details. Why is her full-fledged act termed a guest appearance? That mystery too stays unsolved. Only Nawaz’s guilt-ridden priest breaks free once in a way, and a few red herrings infuse some intrigue, especially towards the end.
Also read: TE3N box office collections
And while the identity of the culprit does come as a surprise if you haven’t been attentive to some amount of obviousness in the unravelling, the suspense is not as killing as it can be, which for a whodunit like this, is the real crime.
Director: Ribhu Dasgupta