Badlapur Film Review: Searing And Sour

| February 20, 2015 | 0 Comments

badlapur posterJames Allen in his classic As A Man Thinketh had, almost a century ago, observed: Circumstances don’t make a man,they reveal him. Could this be an absolute truth in the world of fiction and that in a noir genre where what is right and what is wrong is not all black or white. Numerous shades of grey color the entire narrative.

Sriram Raghvan’s Badlapur may not have this in mind while constructing the plotline,but its influence can be seen throughout the narrative albeit, in a roundabout manner.

Badlapur-Don’t Miss the Beginning  is a movie with a really riveting and explosive start where a bank robbery goes phutt and in the process a mother and child are killed. Raghav‘s(Varun Dhawan)  whole life turns upside down with this incidental killing of his wife Misha(Yammi Gautam) and  young son. They are victim of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

We as viewers know who killed them, but Raghav does not know. The one robber Liak aka Nawazuddin Siddiqui is cornered and gives himself up and is sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. His partner-in-crime Harman aka Vinay Pathak escapes. Nawazuddin does not snitch on his partner’s whereabouts but sticks to his spiel that his partner indeed killed the innocent mother and son.  There is no closure for Varun Dhawan.

He is consumed with burning desire to seek revenge from the real killers. As the card conveys  an African Proverb at the very beginning of the film: The axe forgets, but the tree remembers , the whole plot henceforth, is a twisted tale of revenge that is sprinkled with some real good sequences and peppered with some smart one-liners. Overall the twists though amusing are, unconvincing and lack those nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat moments.

Yes, Badlapur’s dynamism lies in narrating the oft-handled theme with some freshness. Few of the scenes are show-stealers, especially, Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s love-interest, a prostitute Jhimli aka Huma Querishi dancing before Varun on his command,then the whole  sequence between Harman’s wife Kanchan (Radhika Apte) and Varun making out behind closed door, while her husband stands cuckolded outside. Or is he?

Performances by the ensemble cast are above par. Be it  Kumud Mishra in the role of a slimy police officer, Ashwini Kalsekar as a private detective, Divya Dutta as an NGO activist working for prisoners, Radhika Apte as a wife who can go all out to get her husband a second chance, all of them are praiseworthy. Yammi Gautam is pleasant on the eyes in a brief appearance.

For  Varun its a change-of-image role that demands range from suaveness to searing intensity. But his characterization is muddled.Though he exudes sufficient sincerity, his transformation from an upwardly mobile professional to a cold-calculating avenger a la Thor is a kind of yo yo. Its difficult to digest his sexual encounters with Huma Querishi while pursuing his revenge agenda.

But there is everything worth savouring so far Nawazuddin’s smart-aleck, thinking, swaggering,manipulative persona and  a lip-smacking performance is concerned.

There is no dispute about the skillful crafting by Sriram Raghvan. The mood is right. The ambience apt. It’s the convenient and disjointed unfolding that leaves you unsatisfied. Many questions keep nagging though Nawazuddin Siddiqui towards the end makes a nuanced comment at Varun’s consuming revenge : Tum toh khud apni jail mein qaid ho. 

You come out of the theatre mulling over : Is Badla lene ke chakkar mein kaun badla (who changed in pursuit of this revenge)-though this literal translation in English does not do justice to what is conveyed in Hindi. Yes, James Allen’s philosophical tenet keeps nagging till the end.

Badlapur-Don’t miss the beginning,indeed has one of the most crackling beginnings, but its race towards the end, is like speeding on rumblers. Still you can leave home for Badlapur, as this bumpy ride is worth it especially when Nawazuddin is the one taking you for a ride.


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Category: Reviews

About the Author ()

Dhieraj Mohan is Hindi cinema's keen observer. With earnest interest in its dynamics and constantly changing milieu he revels in dwelling on the discrepancies, idiosyncrasies,contradictions,masala and the formula that defines Bollywood.He is a poet and a screenwriter too,who simply adores Hindi cinema's chameleon like traits.

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