An official remake of Jeong Keun-seob’s 2013 Korean #Film Montage, TE3N surpasses the original in terms of building a taut atmosphere that keeps audiences at the edge of their seats. Directed by Ribhu Dasgupta, TE3N brings Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui on the screen together for the first time.

Plot

For the past eight years, John Biswas (Amitabh Bachchan) has been restless, trying to deconstruct the mystery behind his 8-year-old granddaughter’s sudden disappearance that led to her death. The perpetrator, who kidnapped John’s granddaughter Angela, was never found. The mysterious case has long been shut by the Kolkata police.

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However, Biswas holds himself accountable to seek justice, not revenge, for his deceased granddaughter.

Eight years later, things take a similar turn when another kidnapping incident, bearing uncanny resemblance to Angela’s case, takes place in the crumbling environs of Kolkata. On the other hand, John gets a clue from a local Imambara to start a self-monitored investigation against the terrible tragedy that left his family devastated.

What happens next? How does John seek justice for his granddaughter? You’ll have to visit a cinema near you to see the mystery unfold itself.

Analysis

Dasgupta’s TE3N serves a deliciously twisty plot with a standout performance by Vidya Balan. However, I’m not saying that it’s a completely profound cinematic experience. I’m saying that TE3N stays honest to its genre and this is the reason why it works really well, at least for three quarters.

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You know the extent of heightening tension when you see audiences biting their nails. The collective tension in the cinema hall escalates as the film unspools. In the last hour, the story transcends into a Fincher-style expressionism to reveal the tiniest of details through flashbacks.

Bijesh Jayarajan and Suresh Nairhas’ screenplay sparkles with a natural beauty that is hyperreal like the glory of a dream. However, the film starts to derail in the last fifteen minutes, but Bachchan and Balan’s towering performances keep it all on the right track.

For this reason, TE3N ends up being a ‘yes, but’ movie experience for me. It’s a smartly-crafted film, but it stays on its polished surfaces only. It’s intelligent, but not probing or risky enough to hit your conscience hard.

However, it’s the actors who make TE3N soar even when things start to get muddled. It's Vidya Balan who astonishes you the most. She plays a tough cop, with gestures and raised brows that speak tall of her artistic abilities.

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Balan is as close to perfect as any actor has ever been onscreen in a role that defies all stereotypes. On the other hand, Amitabh Bachchan studies his character with a ferocious intelligence. Bachchan’s John faces the fateful turns of events throughout the runtime with poise.

Padmavati Rao, as John’s wife, is particularly tremendous. Her highly emotive face meticulously depicts the existence of people crippled by pain of losing a loved one. Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sabyasachi Chakrabarty are good, but their roles aren’t really well-etched.

Verdict

With spine-tingling suspense and utterly believable performances, TE3N stands out to be a film that mesmerizes and shocks you in equal measure for most of its runtime. Balan’s rendition of a cop chasing a suspect on the railway tracks is perhaps the finest piece of self-contained acting I’ve seen so far in the Hindi cinema this year. Tremendous! #Bollywood