Film Review: 'Badlapur'
Opened: 20 February 2015
Cast: Varun Dhawan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Huma Qureshi, Yami Gautam, Vinay Pathak, Divya Dutta, Radhika Apte
Director: Sriram Raghavan
Producers: Dinesh Vijan, Sunil Lulla
I'll cut to the chase. I much preferred Varun Dhawan's metamorphosis over to the dark side than I did Sidharth Malhotra's in last year's lukewarm, albeit successful Ek Villain. I get it. The comparisons may be a tad unfair, but they're inevitable given that both actors made their debut in the same film. Dhawan's transformation into the brutal, lean, mean killing machine is far more convincing and compelling than the act Malhotra pulled off last year, and his act alone is reason enough to watch this morbid, gruesome and yet compelling tale of revenge and redemption.
He gets able support from the film's 'antagonist', actually I wont call him that; The film's other character played with equal gusto by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who initially, does a superb job of making us dislike him, and then in the second half, goes full circle and does an equally formidable job of making our hearts go out to his otherwise despicable character.
In case you've been living under a rock, and if you have, then the name's bleeding obvious. Badlapur tells the story of Raghav a.k.a Raghu (Dhawan), who's consumed with revenge against the duo that were responsible for killing both his wife (Yami Gautam), and his son during a piddly bank heist. Of the two thugs, one, Liak (Siddiqui) gets sentenced for twenty years, only to be released five years earlier due to his failing health, prompting Raghu to seek answers in his quest for closure and redemption.
One thing's for certain. Sriram Raghavan's superbly directed saga of vengeance is nowhere near everyone's cup of tea. It's morbid, morose and sullen in tone but what works in its favour, is that it never deviates from the main plot by delving into meandering sub plots and unwanted item numbers. Raghavan sticks to the plot and to his credit again, takes a huge risk, by not going down the convoluted part of tying things up in the end either. The climax is a bit of a cliff hanger and left open to interpretation, and I enjoyed those smaller touches that he gives us here. For once we're spared soppy, generic fluff and kudos to the team for thinking a little out of the box.
In terms of performances, it goes without saying that both Dhawan and Siddiqui are OUTSTANDING in the film leaving precious little for the supporting cast to work with but credit where its due. Radhika Apte, Divya Dutta, Huma Qureshi and Vinay Pathak pull of their parts with earnestness, but it would have been nice if Raghavan had delved a little into their back stories so that their motives were a little clearer, rather than making them mere pawns in Raghu's quest for revenge.
On the flip side too, you never fully engage with the love story purely because there's precious little chemistry between Dhawan and Gautam. Their romance should have been given just a tiny little more air time, which would have made it easier to relate to Raghu's plight. Moreover, I'm not quite sure why Gautam went to town promoting the film either, given that she has sweet FA to do in it.
Blemishes aside, Raghavan's taut treatment and edgy direction is what makes Badlapur worth watching. His characters are never black or white, simply grey – and the unexpected twists in the penultimate sequences were nice little touches that save the film from diving into mediocrity and becoming just another clichéd revenge saga like the ones in the 80s where macho men like Sunny Deol beat up a thousand goons with their 'dhai kilo ka haath' only to destroy the villain who's sole purpose was to make everyone's lives a living hell! Here, thankfully, the antogonist gets his own heartbreaking backstory which also makes us empathise with him to an extent too.
I'm going with four stars for Badlapur. It's a difficult and uncomfortable watch, and some of the gratuitous violence is a little hard to digest, but overall its fast paced, and somewhat unique plot and stellar performances by Dhawan and Siddiqui rescue it from becoming just another run of the mill tale of one up-manship and vengeance.