Rating: 2.5 stars
Though 2015 didn’t start on a good note for Bollywood, as the movie buffs were deprived of good cinema so far, Sriram Raghavan’s revenge drama, Badlapur, came as breath of fresh air for the audience and critics alike.
While praising Varun Dhawan after watching Badlapur, his mentor Karan Johar stated that he’s very proud of the young star. KJo said the same about his other discovery, Sidharth Malhotra after watching Ek Villain. Understandably so, like Sidharth, it was time for Varun to experiment and move away from the rom-coms, especially before getting typecast. And must say, Bollywood’s new hottest star has portrayed his sinister side as Raghu quite impressively. Both the industry denizens and critics are raving about the movie and Varun’s transformation from being a ‘Student’ to a ‘Hero’ to now, an ‘actor’. It requires courage and maturity to take up such a diverse role at the onset of a promising career.
Badlapur is a revenge saga, one ingredient that has been the staple diet of Hindi films since time immemorial. It is a powerful film. It has the power to sweep you off your feet from the word ‘go’. It has a riveting story, which has been told with flourish by Raghavan. And, of course, it has riveting performance by Varun and a knockout performance by Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
There’s so much happening in every scene and the screenplay is so gripping that you don’t feel the need to look at the auditorium ceiling or at your watch at brief intervals. You aren’t restless. As moviegoers, we’ve watched countless good versus evil fares over the years and although Badlapur belongs to the same family, not once does it take the beaten track. The story has been told differently and most importantly, the story offers so many twists-n-turns that you just can’t guess what would unfold next.
Getting back to the story of Badlapur – Raghu’s (Varun Dhawan) happy-go-lucky life is devastated, when a robbery episode kills his wife (Yami Gautam) and son. The culprit Liak (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) refuses to let out the truth and is imprisoned for 20 years. Refusing to move on, Raghu harbours in him the tryst for truth and revenge. Can he avenge the deaths of his loved ones? With his methodical and meticulous determination, Raghu etches a path of clues that lead him on his road.
Is it violent? It is, at times, but the violence here is justified. In fact, every time Raghu bashes up the evil-doers primarily Liak, you clap and root for him and surprisingly Liak too. The climax is quite impulsive to believe. But what adds sheen and glory to the story is Nawazuddin’s portrayal of a crooked criminal. He speaks volumes with his eyes and conveys whatever has to be conveyed through his body language, he says it all with his facial expressions and that only makes Badlapur a memorable, never-seen-before experience.
Raghavan, who returns four years after Agent Vinod, deserves brownie points for not just coming up with an interesting story, but also presenting it (refreshingly) differently. The storyteller balances the light moments and the ones demanding intensity with expertise. The cinematography is stunning and the action sequences are brilliantly executed.
If at all there’s a shred of doubt whether Varun is the hottest star in the business, all you’ve got to do is check out Badlapur. He is both vulnerable and hard. The pain in his face when he remembers about memories with his wife and son are palpable. Yami, as usual, looks fresh and photogenic but like the Ajay Devgn starrer Action Jackson she gets screwed this time too and dies without delivering hard-hitting dialogue. Huma Qureshi, who plays sex worker, handles the significant role effectively. Divya Dutta as the NGO worker should have given more screen time.
Our verdict: With Badlapur, Sriram Raghavan shuttles bravely between intrigue and mystery. Don’t miss it if you have both the stomach and the palate to digest this poignant narrative soaked in disturbing darkness.