Saturday, March 21, 2015


Revenge With A Twist

In these fraught times of random violence, what happens to a cheerful young family man, could happen to anybody. Most would grieve and rage, but with the help of family and friends would probably get on with life, the trauma buried somewhere where it cannot disturb anymore.

But when Raghu’s (Varun Dhawan) wife (Yami Gautam) and son are killed during a bank heist, he cannot let it go. One of the robbers escapes, the other, Liak (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), is arrested and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He claims he is innocent, but does not reveal the name of his partner. 

At first, a seething Raghu tries to use every means at his disposal, from hiring a detective to terrorising and raping Liak’s girlfriend, a call girl called Jhimli (Huma Qureshi), to find out who pulled the trigger. When he fails, he chooses a lonely and austere life in a place called Badlapur, digging at the scabs of his wounds, never letting the memory of his wife fade for fifteen years.

Meanwhile Liak, makes futile attempts to escape and settles into prison routine, patiently waiting for his release and the bounty waiting for him outside—his share of the loot.  (At least Siddiqui greys, Dhawan just grows a beard, but doesn’t look any older.)

Then, a social worker, Shobha (Divya Dutta) visits Raghu and starts the chain of events that cause terrible violence to erupt, as Raghu reaches the elusive partner (Vinay Pathak) and his wife (Radhika Apte), who is ignorant of his past crime. There is also a cop about to retire (Kumud Mishra), who hates the idea of an unsolved case.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui turns out to be the scene-stealer in this film too, a twisted, creepy man, who somehow gets the social worker’s sympathy, even though he feels no remorse for what happened.

Varun Dhawan does not, as yet, have the range to play a man as complex and Raghu, but in some scenes he does surprise with his intensity.

Sriram Raghavan works well within the noir genre, and Badlapur is unpredictable, but also contrived and ultimately pointless, because the director cannot get the audience to ruminate on right and wrong, guilt, forgiveness, redemption and the degradation of the revenge-seeker, to raise the film above a regular commercial thriller. It was disturbing to hear laughter whenever a woman is humiliated (many times) or a man mocked. The women in the film—girlfriend, wife or mother—they all seem to be treated with violence or contempt, which amused the mostly young male audience in the moviehall.


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