Badlapur: A Movie Review

This is Sriram Raghavan’s latest movie outing with the last being the so called spy movie ‘Agent Vinod’ starring the Prince and his would be Begum, which I had watched in Singapore three plus years ago. Badlapur, named after a major railway station junction in Maharashtra is a dark murder thriller bordering on a genre begun in Bollywood with the John Abraham starred ‘Zinda’ with again a dark theme. This movie resolves around a mother-son murder revolving  around a bank heist in which the characters of Vinay Thakur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui aka Laik kills in a fit of rage to save himself the tamil speaking wife  and son of the character of Varun Dhawan aka Raghu, the revenge filled and driven protagonist of the film. Varun Dhawan’s character is of a budding ad man whose life gets derailed due the sad murder episode. These emotion filled scene shots are narrated matter of fact by the director and cinematographer. Varun Dhawan character gives up on the conventional justice system to nail the culprits of the murder (tapping on the justice delayed is justice denied rhetoric). Varun’s character appoints a female detective played by a seasoned TV Actress, and how she extracts the initial information trail post the incident is very well narrated in the script. Laik faces a 20 year term for his heinous crime but his partner Harman (Vinay Thakur’s character) escapes with the loot and sets up a flourishing Goan restaurant with a live band and marries a beautiful woman. Varun Dhawan’s character is revenge driven with rage as he retreats to a low key existence in Badlapur town near Nashik as a Warehouse supervisor (one of which looks very similar to the authors experience outside Nashik’s MIDC Satpur’s Industrial nerve). Laik is involved with a commercial sex worker played by Huma Quraishi who ultimately becomes a keep of a politician. Huma’s character is layered and the sexual politics with Varun, Nawaz and Huma is one of the main side plots of the film. The parole politics of the ngo sector and the cancer afflicted Laik and his mother is very interestingly shown on celluloid. Rage and the central focus of revenge via sexual violence  is the underlying tone of the revenge drama. The characters of the film such as Vinay and Nawaz with Huma and Divya Dutta, the single mother prison NGO worker (and her chemistry with Varun’s character)  is a standout feature. The film uses Tamil and Marathi as useful linguistic  contours to paint the film in layers, although stereotypes of a Punjabi Mum versus grieving Tamil In-laws aka ‘Two States’ is perpetuated. The use of graphic violence of of gore and the sexual content make the film bold but disturbing. The violence is the soul of the film. The film’s anti-climax of an ending with Varun’s character killing off Harman and his wife in cold blood to extract revenge is appropriated by the murderous Laik is a very Japanese-Korean esque cinematic treatment. The cinematography was very East Asian inspired as the direction of the film. Pune was the canvas of the film with MG Road as the main backdrop with Marz-o-rin cafe depicted in a couple of important shots with the narrow first floor seating arrangement sipping hot coffee over a serious conversation (where the author has been to a number of times). Laik is shown as enjoying cheesy Bhojpuri cinema after being released on health grounds reeks of stereotyping as the criminal being from the hindi cowbelt. The Marathi Bhajan groups singing praise in the temple in cinematic Badlapur is tasteful.  Nawaz and Huma are standout performers of the film with Varun rendering a credible act, albeit a brave one vis-a-vis his contemporaries. The background score and songs move the narrative forward and the editing is crisp. A film unsuitable for young audiences but a different film with a strong ensemble cast. A film where you would not wish to watch with your parents. Sriram Raghavan does a better job this time with his potential in this film. If one has to watch the film, it has to be for Nawaz and Huma as star performers that they are; lend substance to the soul of the film.

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