History has a habit of repeating itself, and the Te3n trailer does appear to spell ‘déjà vu’. Playing the part of Bhaskor Banerjee in Piku (2015), Amitabh Bachchan had roamed Kolkata’s streets on a bicycle. In Te3n, he is back on the city’s roads, but this time he has been given a scooter. After Kahaani (2012), Kolkata had adopted Vidya Balan as its veritable daughter, and the actor seems all set to reciprocate that love with this latest outing. Back where she belongs, Balan can again be seen trying to solve a crime. But in a departure from Kahaani and No One Killed Jessica (2011), she doesn’t have to plead with the law. Playing a cop, she’s on the other side now. She is the law herself.
Earnest cops, especially in two-and-a-half minute trailers, don’t have much of an opportunity to reveal shades of grey or complexity. Predictably perhaps, Balan comes across as an officer who has compassion and the right intent. She doesn’t seem impatient in the company of Bachchan, a man who has visited her every day for the last eight years. Single-minded and resolute, he seems to have just the one objective – solving the mystery which shrouds his granddaughter’s death.
The first shot that one sees in the trailer is bone-chilling. Bachchan sits down with a hand-held tape recorder and hears the voice of a terrified child. “I am sorry Dadu. I made a mistake. I should have listened to you,” she repeats. The audio tape itself is a reminder that the past and its ghosts will haunt this film.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who plays a priest in Te3n, advocates to Bachchan a change of course. Peace, he suggests, will not come in closure, but in a path that lies elsewhere. His own conscience, however, seems troubled. Tellingly, we see him tossing and turning in bed, and it soon becomes clear that much like his flock, he too is looking for redemption. Crime, like history, also sometimes has a terrible habit of repeating itself. Eight years later, another child suffers the fate Bachchan’s granddaughter did, and this then brings the three (teen) together – Bachchan, Balan and Siddiqui.
It goes without saying that the efforts of Te3n’s casting director have resulted in a coup of sorts. Bachchan’s helplessness, Balan’s valour and Siddiqui’s confusion can all be effortlessly detected. And the prospect of watching three of the country’s best actors together will probably send even the most cynical of us to the theatres.
But what seems brave and unusual here is the narrative of the film. It isn’t often that a Hindi film takes as its premise the abduction and deaths of children. If the trailer of the film is anything to go by, director Ribhu Dasgupta does not seem to have compromised or succumbed to the demands of the mainstream. The few scenes that we have had a chance to see are all dark and gritty. The obvious ability of the actors only amplifies the mystery that one expects.
So, with a chill going down our spine, we now wait with our backs straight, anxiously counting one, two, Te3n.
Watch the trailer below: