Badlapur Movie Review: A Few Grey Men

This post is full of spoilers.
Hindikhoj.com gives the following meanings to Badala.
बदला {badala} = REVENGE
बदलना {badalana} = ADAPT
बदलना {badalana} = CHANGE

Badlapur_PosterIn the opening scene of Sriram Raghavan’s terrific new film, it appears to be a routine day at Mahatma Gandhi Road in Pune. In a wide angle frame that shows a portion of the street, a pregnant lady calls out for an auto and boards it. A traffic constable directs a tow truck to tow a car in a no parking zone. Misha (Yami) and her son, Robin stop at a roadside flower shop to get a bouquet. At this point in time, you anticipate something terrible that is going to happen. Your stomach is in knots. Misha and Robin get the flowers, cross the road to get into the car parked on the other side of the road. At this point, you know something wrong is going to happen. You wait with bated breath till they cross the road and get in to their car, and when they do, you let out a sigh of relief. And then destiny strikes.

After the disappointing Agent Vinod, Sriram Raghavan is back in form in बदलाPUR (Don’t miss the beginning). Make no mistake about it; this is not your usual Bollywood revenge saga nor there is a protagonist or antagonist in this film. Every one of them is grey and you are never sure about the shade even after the film ends. Produced by Maddock films and Eros International, written by Sriram Raghavan and Arijit Viswas and directed by Sriram Raghavan, बदलाPUR (Don’t miss the beginning) can be classified as a crime thriller or a psychological drama or neo-noir. But it is edge-of-the-seat for sure.

Badlapur-Still 1Like his Johnny Gaddaar, Raghavan opts for a mostly linear narrative (apart from the well placed flash backs) where the audience always know more than the characters in the film. And he waits for the last scene to reveal the conceit behind the title. But this time, it is not just the gimmickry of a conceit (or a smart gimmick of the film opening with a random African proverb “the axe forgets, the tree remembers” flashing on the screen) but a lot more of detailing that makes this film truly special. A Tamil calendar in the background, the Batman and Robin poster in Raghav’s home, the passing shot of blood in white roses, the shot of handsaw with blood getting cleaned after the post-mortem, introduction of the female private detective played by Ashwini Kalsekar, Raghavan’s detailing is meticulous.

The best parts of Badlapur, however, are the characters and the cast. Huma Qureshi, Divya Dutta and Yami Gutam are very competent. Radhika Apte is absolutely fantastic. And Pratima Kazmi is outstanding. But the movie belongs to the axe and the tree. Varun Dhawan brings out the angst, grief and loss of Raghav superbly. In a lovely scene between him, Vinay Pathak and Radhika Apte, Varun simply excels as a man on the edge. And Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Laik, who is wily, cunning and wicked but also someone who has been dealt a bad hand of cards by destiny gives an outstanding performance. Backed by a role that plays to the gallery, he plays Laik like no other actor could have.

Badlapur-Still 2Raghavan creates unbelievable violence on screen and though it is gratuitous, it would have made Kim Jee-woon’s stomach churn.And there are superb stretches involving secondary characters in the film. Take the stretch between Ashwini Kalsekar and Pratima Kazmi or between Kumud Mishra and Varun Dhawan or the outrageously funny segment involving Siddiqui and Murli Sharma. In a story about the axe and the tree, they meet only in three scenes. These stretches not only take the story forward but they also do not allow you to miss the confrontation between Siddiqui and Varun Dhawan.

I am not writing anything about the technical crew’s performance because I feel so incompetent to comment on something that is so perfect.

There are so many rights in this film that I feel guilty to nit-pick a few wrongs. The ending comes across as a bit cheesy and spoon fed. But for a film titled Badlapur (Don’t miss the beginning), this spoon fed ending was perhaps the only way to see that Badla is not only revenge but Badalna is also change. Beginning here is the end of the film, and Don’t miss the beginning is not only something Raghavan says to his audience but also to his tree.

Raghavan pays tribute to Don Siegel in the credits. And he pays tribute to Christopher Nolan’s Batman by naming the son Robin. For a theme that bears resemblance to Batman Begins, Badlapur is fantastic twin from India that shows distinct originality.

 

3 Comments

  1. bawlachintu says:

    बदलाव समय की मांग होती है. हिंदी सिनेमा अभी भी संक्रमण काल से गुज़र रहा है. चुस्त अंग्रेजी कथानक के नज़दीक कुछ हद तक तो हम पहुँच चुके हैं. कम समय में ज्यादा कहने की कला शायद इक्का दुक्का निर्देशकों के बूते में ही है.

    Like

  2. Alice says:

    one of the worst movie I have ever seen, I dont know why reviewer is trying to write good things about this movie. If bollywood is trying to copy hollywood movies then why adding too much drama?is Adding vulgarity means competing with hollywood movies?? But there are many clean movies in hollywood, why not copy that? I think Only Salman Khan’s movies are watchable with family whether it is flop or hit.

    Like

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