[tps_footer]Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s English story The Fifth Move finds a Hindi avatar as Wazir. Directed by Bejoy Nambiar, this thriller stars Farhan Akhtar as Danish Ali, an ATS officer whose one wrong move turns his happy family and professional life into a nightmare.
Danish’s seemingly perfect life falls apart when he risks the lives of his family members to follow a criminal. His shortsightedness in the face of duty – a foolish move, quite honestly, from a man who thus far has not shown any instinct for rash and reckless actions, brings him into contact with Pandit Omkarnath Dhar (Amitabh Bachchan), a handicapped, wheelchair-bound chess teacher nursing his own deep wounds of loss.
Over chess lessons, Danish starts healing and forges a strong bond with his mentor Panditji and begins to reconcile with his wife Ruhana (Aditi Rao Hydari). This new friendship and loyalty leads to Danish promising to avenge the death of Panditji’s daughter, allegedly at the hands of a Minister (Manav Kaul).
The game of chess – pawns, rooks and ‘wazirs’ – is a metaphor for a bigger plot being played out between victims and perpetrators. The entire thriller and story hinge on a couple of plot twists, which can be seen as clearly as a speeding truck on the wrong side of the road. In spite of being encumbered by a shallow script and convenient screenplay, Nambiar brings in slickness and crafts some impressive action scenes with the cinematography enhancing the dark and doomed atmosphere with the use of shadows.
John Abraham and Neil Nitin Mukesh pitch in with brief but effectual cameos, although the rendition of Mukesh’s character is discordant with the rest of the style and look of the film, giving away a crucial intrigue. Aditi Rao Hydari is earnest as the vulnerable, highly feminine and fragile Ruhana. Manav Kaul makes the most of a few choice scenes, as the evil politician with a dark past of his own.
Akhtar delivers his most nuanced and mature performance till date, becoming the guilt-ridden, shattered father and husband, the dutiful police officer and the loyal friend. Bachchan is accorded some solid dialogues and a complex character that befits his age and experience. His interactions with Akhtar are sharp, crisply edited. These fine performances and stylish crafting hold afloat a spotty, predictable script (Chopra, Abhijat Joshi) that skates on the surface of emotional damage, politics and even friendship.