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Bollywood actress Vidya Balan’s thriller Kahaani, the tale of a pregnant woman searching for her missing husband in Kolkata, ruined it for us — in a good way. It was so gripping and so endeared itself that it became the yardstick to measure any Bollywood thriller against.

Te3N, the mystery which stars Amitabh Bachchan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Balan, was potent with so much promise and the gripping trailer made you wonder if Kahaani’s place on the throne was under threat. Unfortunately, Te3N is no Kahaani.

Just like Balan’s earlier film, this too is set in Kolkata and centres around a hapless citizen who embarks on a search for answers and justice. But it’s not as tense and the climax leaves you feeling underwhelmed.

It doesn’t, however, hurt to be invested in the film. The performances and the mature handling of the characters by the actors make Te3N engaging.

Bachchan plays John Biswas, a defeated grandfather whose grandchild was kidnapped under his watch. A botched-up investigation later, he is still seeking closure. His routine includes going to the local police station on his clunky scooter to enquire if the investigating team had found any lead on the kidnapper. It is painstakingly mundane and shows the pathos of those grappling with senseless tragedies.

Bachchan, as a man being eaten away by guilt and anguish, is a pleasure to watch. His subdued personality, the pain in his eyes as he replays the kidnapping and the pronounced stooping of his shoulders are his crutches. Siddiqui as a priest who’s running away from life is spot on and Vidya Balan, who plays a no-nonsense police officer, does her bit in lending gravitas to the film.

What pulls the thriller down is its unhurried pace and the scarcity of startling twists. Director Ribhu Dasgupta doesn’t hurry things up and precious minutes are invested in giving us the premise that led up to the murder.

The ending, despite having a stellar cast including Sabyasachi Chakraborty, leaves you wanting for more. But as long as you manage your expectations, you will be satisfied at having seen some good actors play out their parts effectively.

Out now

Film: Te3N

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sabyasachi Chakraborty and Vidya Balan

Stars: 3 out of 5