4 reasons we are watching this - Amitabh Bachchan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vidya Balan and finally this is the Hindi remake of only one of the best Korean non-derivative thrillers in recent years called Montage that not many people even know about. If you have seen Hindi remakes you would know they can often surprise you with a new spin on familiar proceedings. We already know how everything would pan out but we were still kept spellbound.
It is impossible to write a synopsis without unintentionally dropping a spoiler, so I am going to keep it very simple. This is a story about a grandfather (Amitabh Bachchan), a priest (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and a police officer (Vidya Balan) coming together to solve a case of a kidnapped child.
Montage (2013) was one helluva movie. It plays with an overly familiar premise of a kidnapped child but it weaves such an inventive spin on the genre that it rises up like a phoenix from the ashes. The emotional weight coupled with the gripping narrative and a superb sleight-of-hand play with fractured timelines transcends way above derivative thrillers that barely register a blimp on your consciousness. It is a film that one can't quite conveniently pigeonhole into the usual boxes. This is ripe for a remake.
I know both of us, while being kept spellbound, were unconsciously comparing both versions. After it ended our conversations eddied around different aspects of both versions. In fact, we will be re-watching Montage this evening. That is how much we love the incredible story. Both have their pluses and minuses, and it is such an interesting activity to see the different trajectories taken by two different types of world cinema.
One of the major nitpicks we have with Te3n is the lumbering pace in the first half hour. What should have been a relentless ride nearly dissolves into weepy melodrama. Montage never once had this issue because it has a superb sense of urgency with the statute of limitations for the unsolved case running out. The director, Ribhu Dasgupta, should have trusted the acuity of the audience to join the dots, but it was just content to cement the fact that Bachchan's John and Siddiqui's Martin are empty shells of a man because of the devastating incident 8 years ago. These are not ordinary actors - when Amitabh Bachchan says he is sad, we know in our very bones he is earth-shatteringly overwhelmed with sadness. There is no need to give us half an hour of him moping around. I don't mean to say I was bored looking at him because I absolutely wasn't; there are not many actors out there I would pay to watch them do nothing and with little soliloquy like Bachchan and Siddiqui. Bachchan and Siddiqui are just magnetic to watch.
Compared to the Korean original, the ending feels a little blotched and IMHO doesn't quite reach the same zenith set by Montage (we are watching again just to find out if we are right). I recalled the final wordless scene in the Korean film that really hit me in the gut and I failed to hold back a torrent of tears from streaming down my face. That scene seals up everything so marvellously. Te3n could have used the same scene. However, kudos still to a superbly made film that uses the city of Kolkata so well; it feels like it is the 4th major character of the film. Even though I knew the outcome of the story and remembered every twist and turn, Te3n still manages to surprise me with its intensity and its commitment to tell a good story. This is the type of story that has so many moving parts that one wrong turn it would fail, but it doesn't. If you choose to look closely you probably will see loopholes but you won't want to because the story has so much verve. This is easily one of the best films I have seen this year.