Taapsee Pannu wrecked hearts in Manmarziyaan, and bigotry in Mulk. In the case of Badla, her first release of 2019, the wreckage is of a different kind. Directed by Sujoy Ghosh, the film is a Hindi remake of the Spanish thriller Contratiempo.
As evident from the trailer, the plot sticks close to the original: a murder transpires in a hotel room, an arrest is made; a doubting attorney probe through flashblacks. There are also snatches of a pickled love affair and a fleeting car crash. Primary tweaks come in the form of interesting role reversals: Taapsee’s character was originally male, played by Spanish actor Mario Casas. Giving her a tough time, and icy staredowns, is Amitabh Bachchan, her co-star from Pink, replacing the unforgettable Blanca Martinez.
As for her thoughts on the film’s central theme, vengeance, the actor noted: “It’s an universal human emotion. Sabka maan karta hai badla lene ka. It’s just that our techniques keep changing; I exact revenge differently now than I did when I was ten.” Excerpts from an interview...
What’s your funniest memory of settling a score with someone?
I was in school in tenth grade. I was dating a person who broke up with me on the pretext of board exams. It made me feel bad. Some years later, he started flirting with me again on social media. I discovered he was already dating someone. I took print-outs of our conversation and sent it to the girl (laughs).
How has your on-screen equation evolved with Mr. Bachchan?
My characters in Pink and Badla, Minal Arora and Naina Sethi respectively, are chalk and cheese. As a result, the dynamics between me and Mr. Bachchan are completely different. In Minal’s case, Bachchan came down as God to get her justice, whereas Naina has hired him as her lawyer, and commands some authority over him.
Spoilers are easily spread in the age of social media. Was it a concern while making a murder mystery/whodunit?
A lot of people raised this question when we decided to do the film. However, tell me one thing — in (romantic) movies, we know boy and girl are eventually going to meet, right? Still, what keeps us glued is ‘how’ they meet. Similarly, in Badla, the point is not who has done it, but how we get to know who the person is.
Sujoy Ghosh is considered a master of thrillers, evinced by the success of Kahaani. How different is his adaptation of The Invisible Guest from the original film?
He has filled up some glaring loop-holes in the original. He has also made it relatable to an Indian audience. The rest must be seen to be figured out. Our producer, Sunir Khetrapal, had initially pitched me the lead character’s girlfriend part, but I demanded to play the central role. That led to the gender reversal in the script. I felt gratified they accommodated a change like that for me.