Note: This review contains heavy spoilers!
This film scores well on many accounts. First and foremost-honesty of producers, writers and directors in crediting Korean film Montage. Indian entertainment has copied music and cinema for long. Most of the films shamelessly copy some great Hollywood, Korean or European films without giving due credit. In earlier decades when internet was not so common film makers used to make scene-by-scene copies of some foreign films without ever mentioning them and audience rarely used to discover the original. I feel even if you buy remake rights you should tell audience about the original source. If they have already seen the original they might choose to watch the remake but if you don’t tell them and they discover about it while watching your film or afterwards, they feel cheated and disgusted. It’s not necessary that an original story is always better than the remake of a wonderful foreign film. Take for example Wazir by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and compare it with this film. I was surprised to learn that Vidhu worked with the script since 2001 and all he came up with was a very predictable tale with forced twists. This is why I feel some remakes are good. Te3n, Rahasya, Kahani, Jazbaa and Burfi are some of the well made Bollywood thrillers of last five years. Ugly, Talwar and Wazir are examples of mystery-thriller failures in the last few years.
Then there is also the question of treatment of the original story. Te3n treats the original story very well. Amitabh’s act is one of the best I have ever seen. The helpless old grandfather who has lost his angelic granddaughter rides scooter and investigates the eighth year old kidnapping. He keeps forgetting his day-to-day chores because of his obsession and even sacrifices his scooter for sake of investigation. This act draws us emotionally towards the character and the film. Nawaz falls short of the job. He has almost same expressions in all scenes and fails to move even a bit. First few songs with Amitabh’s magnetic voice have mesmerizing lyrics and music. Direction, editing and cinematography are well done.
Aankhen, Wazir and Te3n all of them have Amitabh playing the surprising character. I have not seen Montage but well before the climax I was able to predict that the second kidnapping was by John(played by Amitabh). It’s because somehow Amitabh is always doing twisted roles and this becomes predictable when you see it often enough.
The script creates suspense by twisting the linearity of time-lines. Initially all characters of film are shown in a linear time-line but after some time John’s time line goes out-of-sync and this confuses the audience about the original kidnapper by posing multiple choices. Police procedural is somewhat dumb towards the end but that is what you expect in most Bollywood films. Before end audience is hard-pressed and kept guessing whether there are two kidnappers, different kidnappers in two cases or only one kidnapper in both the cases. By the end you know that John was not conducting investigation side-by-side with father Martin and police. He was not consulted even once by police and Father which is a hole in the plot (which was the need for enabling twisted time lines) but it might be said that it’s a minor plot hole because actually John had found the kidnapper Manohar long ago and after that the second kidnapping happens. We may assume that even when Father and police contact John he doesn’t appear until Manohar is behind the bars and then as he finally meets him justice is done!