Vinod Joshi (Vinod Khanna) is a witness to a murder in his workplace. He cooperates with the police investigation; there is an arrest and a trial at which Vinod testifies; and Vinod's colleague Subramaniam is convicted of the crime. Vinod and his wife Meena (Shabana Azmi) do their best to forget the harrowing incident, thinking it is behind them. Ten years later, Meena receives an ominous letter from a man called Maan Singh (Utpal Dutt), who claims that Vinod was more involved than he let on and allowed an innocent man to be convicted in order to cover his own crimes of embezzlement from the company. Meena is troubled by the letter, but while Vinod assures that it's nothing but the baseless ravings of disturbed old man, Meena can't shake the dreadful feeling that Vinod hasn't told her the whole truth. She launches an investigation of her own, behind Vinod's back - but their marriage bends under the strain of her suspicions.
Shaque is at its best when its focus sticks to the relationship between Vinod and Meena and the strains placed upon it by Meena's suspicions. Vinod Khanna and Shabana Azmi are understated and sweet in the scenes establishing their relationship early in the film, and the realist style of their performance lets tensions grow between them without too much overwrought dramatizing. The tension is delicately enhanced by some very nice camera work, framing shots like the one pictured above. Their tenderness and passion is apparent too, illustrated in a handful of touching, intimate scenes.
Unfortunately, the film's masala elements - especially the supposedly suspenseful confrontations towards the film's end - contrast with the delicacy of its study of the marriage, in a distracting rather than an effective way. And Meena makes some very questionable judgments that make it hard to identify with her. Her poor judgment about Maan Singh when it's painfully obvious that he's blackmailing betrays her as naive, and her incomprehensible suicide attempt seems like drama-mongering. Neither paints a sympathetic heroine. The film would have done better to give us a sensible woman caving to the temptation of doubt, rather than Meena almost wrecking her own marriage through stupidity. In the end, the weaknesses outweigh the strengths, and even though Shabana and Vinod give the best performances they can under the circumstances, Shaque isn't much more than a forgettable timepass, despite its well-crafted moments.