With its IMDb page created 14 years ago before the film finally released, the makers' attempt at checkmating their audience with their crime drama only results in a stalemate where the game is mostly declared a draw.
The story starts with a death, as dutiful and physically fit anti-terrorist operations officer Daanish (Akhtar) regrets his decision of impulsively going behind a known terrorist when he is out with his family. Seeking vengeance, he goes on a rampage and gets himself suspended, only to meet Dhar (Bachchan), a widowed and physically disabled chess enthusiast, who is fighting his own devils after his teen daughter was killed in a mysterious accident. They become friends, and so starts a game of chess as Daanish becomes a friendly yet courageous horse for Dhar to find his daughter's killer.
Slow motion and suspended audio hook effects in the initial sequences marvelously entices its audience's attention, and it stays that way through the first act. However, Hydari's character evokes a sort of necessary but terse drama into the narrative which continues to happen throughout the movie. With good dialogs and a well-written screenplay, stylistic antagonists appear and drive the story forward. Mukesh's aura is appreciably different for what he's worth, and Nambiar fancily uses his charm to herald a new type of villain into Bollywood that is away from the deadpan elements we have been seeing in celluloid these past years.
However, the story has one too many flaws. Minor ones like Dhar driving a vehicle without his limbs in place can be forgiven, but if one digs deeper into the story that lays itself out in the second act, one will realize that the game which started with 8 ferocious pawns only has one pawn left and it is up to this pawn to take the film forward to a conclusive end. Of course it does, and it does beautifully, but the speed of this transition of a humdrum crime case turning into a thriller is too fast. Flip flops between the drama and the case affects the narrative, only to create an unrest in the audience.
So, as the pawn sets out to find the mysterious wazir, queen dies, and the king is high on vodka. Since the queen is dead, the game is more or less over. The wonderful climax is all that saves the pawn from going out on a limb, and manages to salvage the whole game.
Cast is brilliant; Akhtar and Bachchan are both good, but one will find the latter more believable in his character. Hydari just mops and sobs, while Mukesh does better acting in his 60-second space than in all his rest of the filmography combined. All said and done, Nambiar's attempt thankfully does not get convoluted, and is read out clearly in its 100 minute running time, but still the story has its flaws and the gist of it is nothing new that our palettes haven't tasted before.
BOTTOM LINE: Bejoy Nambiar's Wazir is an inventive thriller whose base story may be ordinary, but watch out for the titular character, for he may impress you with his faith and power and sheer thirst for retribution.