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Badlapur Review: A tale of ambiguous morals!

Badlapur Review: A tale of ambiguous morals!

Source: General

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Movie Title

Badlapur Review: A tale of ambiguous morals!

Director

Sriram Raghavan

Star Cast

Varun Dhawan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Divya Dutta

"The axe forgets, but the tree remembers"- these ominous wordsbegin our story. And we realize that 'Don't Miss the Beginning' ispart of the title, even as the opening credits appear in bold,blood-red lettering.

We see a quiet lane in Pune, where a bank robbery takes place underthe noses of traffic cops. The robbers emerge from the bank and takeover a nearby vehicle with the passengers inside (a mother and son).This ends disastrously, and Raghu (Varun Dhawan) whose wife and childwere in the car, is distraught.

For a while he cries, mourns. The police tell him that one of therobbers Liak (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) has been arrested. Raghu gets intoa fistfight with him in the police cell. Something has shifted withinhim. He is now thirsting for revenge, as is symbolized by his movingto a place called 'Badlapur'.

Here, he lives a life as inconspicuously as possible, working in anondescript job and living in a bare room with just the basics. Helets the idea of revenge consume him completely, as he goes aboutfinding Liak’s partner’s name. The person who Liak claims was thelarger culprit, and has all the loot money.

This journey leads Raghu to a detective’s home who then guides himto Liak’s girlfriend. The process takes time, years, and both theprotagonist and antagonist are restless. Actually, it wouldn’t be fairto call Raghu’s character a hero. For this cheerful advertisingexecutive who was, till a few years ago a doting husband and father,is now a revenge-obsessed dangerous man.

One understands that in several neo-noir thrillers such as this,the premise is built on the transformation of an everyman into abrutal, vengeful person. But it is disturbing to see the casualnesswith which this film treats rape and sexual harassment. In fact, iteven suggests that the rape is ok because 1) the victim is a sexworker, and her fee has been paid, 2) she is in connivance with thebad guy.

It is bad enough the film glorifies revenge, but these ‘methods’employed by Raghu’s character are questionable. And if that is how thecharacter is designed, then the film will have to excuse the viewerwho simply cannot empathize with him or care about his struggle anylonger.

The finale has a twist that does shock you, but once the film isover you mull over its improbability.

The film’s self-serious tone is thankfully punctuated by somedelicious black humour that milks Siddiqui’s cheeky comic timing. NoteLiak’s escape attempts from prison, and the one where he makes arhyming poem about prison food.

The irony of the film, when it is difficult to tell the antagonistfrom the protagonist, hits home even if sporadically. In fact, it isLiak’s character that seems to have more nuance and unexplored layersthan Raghu’s.

And Nawazuddin Siddiqui is indeed the scene-stealer here whetherhe’s defiantly lying to the cops, biding his time in jail, makingwise-cracks (he offers the plainclothes cop following him, to travelin sharing) or showing his emotional side.

This is a big leap for Varun Dhawan, and he manages to hold hisown. However, his turn to Dr. Evil in the second half is lessconvincing, partly because of a restricted performance and partly dueto the lack of justification for such a drastic character turnaround.

A special mention to the extraordinary peripheral cast— HumaQureshi, Vinay Pathak, Radhika Apte (brilliant in her encounter withRaghu), Divya Dutta and Kumud Mishra among others.

Writer-director Sriram Raghavan is back after the AgentVinod debacle, and he is somewhat in form with Badlapur.But sadly, Badlapur is still not as deliciously decadent asEk Hasina Thi (2004) and the critically acclaimed JohnnyGaddar (2007).

The film is mainly recommended for Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s class actas the impudent criminal. Other than that, the film has some solid,immersing moments and an equal number that are misogynistic andrepulsive.

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