Badlapur

Badlapur Poster

Badlapur
Release date: February 20, 2015
Directed by: Sriram Raghavan
Cast: Yami Gautam, Varun Dhawan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vinay Pathak, Huma Qureshi, Pratima Kazmi, Radhika Apte, Ashwini Kalsekar, Murli Sharma, Divya Dutta

In a war, there are excesses. In the modern world, these war crimes amount to conviction and greater ignominy. Badlapur harbors on being a metaphoric representation of that. Two forces of Raghu (Varun Dhawan) and Liak (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) against each other, the initially wronged force goes to extents that go far beyond the narrative of a hero’s struggle (revenge here)

Raghu’s wife and kid are victims of a bank robbery outrun involving Liak and his partner. Liak is caught and jailed, Raghu is caught in the web of his misery and jails himself in faraway Badlapur until he exacts revenge. Liak is unrepentant, and unwilling to give up his charade even in prison. Raghu plots and schemes his vendetta methodically by tracing everyone who is beloved to Liak.

Right from the beginning, there are no shades of white and black attached to the supposed protagonist and antagonist; the deeds of the protagonist border on misogynistic and outright psychotic, and even the antagonist might claim that even he wouldn’t go so far.Kanchan (Radhika Apte) and Jhimli (Huma Qureshi) are women who defend their men for any crime they may or may not have done. Raghu viciously uses their vulnerability to inflict pain and humiliation on the men they love.

The cause behind the revenge is sympathetic, yet the revenge itself isn’t as sympathetic. All of this imbalance in a conventionally stacked universe is what makes Badlapur greater than it actually is. Extensively shot in rainy conditions, the mood is rightly kept grim and so is the look on Raghu’s face. All of the ensemble cast, which is lined up to relay good performances, have quirks and traits that flesh their individual characters with broad strokes.

Varun Dhawan is being lauded for “making a brave choice” by playing Raghu, rather it should be the other way round. His portrayal of Raghu lends credibility to his  so-far-one-dimensional acting profile. Nawazuddin Siddiqui cannot be ever praised enough for his performances, and I am not even going to try to read out his strenghts as Liak. As neither Dhawan’s part is a complete pity-case, nor is Siddiqui’s Liak an entirely unlikable bad guy.

Sachin-Jigar’s background score sets the mood perfectly well for the ghastly acts of violence and/or the relatively new (for mainstream Hindi films at least) moments of hate-sex. The violence on display in this quite literal revenge porn is scarce and powerful, owing to its intricately shot techniques. Director Sriram Raghavan extracts long continuous takes in confined spaces such as a basement, a bathroom and an open street, thus rendering a chaotic feel to the order of events.

Badlapur also traverses a time period of almost twenty years in its runtime, and yet doesn’t resort to cliched flashbacks to the start of the story or any other overused instruments of raking mystery. Raghavan smartly touches upon incidences of solitary confinement for Liak in prison and yet doesn’t delve indulgently. He knows that this is the age of understating, and throwing melodrama out of the window, and he executes it darn well.

In all its glory, Badlapur is adamant on hammering the point by ‘telling’ and not ‘showing’–breaking a basic rule of filmmaking. Though, this isn’t the only rule it breaks here. Only this one seems slightly unpleasant at the end with a character verbally spelling out what the climax means.

This here, is a very fun filled revenge story, except the definition of fun is slightly different.

My rating: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5)

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