Sriram Raghavan’s films have always been wonderful to watch. Be it Ek Hasina Thi or Johnny Gaddar (lets not count the 2012 misadventure of a film). He comes back with a genre he is familiar with, a dark revenge thriller. With talents like Varun, Nawaaz, Divya, Huma, Yami, Vinay, Radhika, Kumud & Zakir he had enough to cherry pick from.
Set in Pune, Misha (Yami Gautam) and her son are carjacked by a bunch of bank robbers leading to their deaths. One of them, Harman (Vinay Pathak) escapes, whilst his partner Laiq (Nawaazuddin Siddique) is caught. Misha’s death, leaves her adman hubby, Raghu (Varun Dhawan) scarred for life, something from which he cannot recover. So whilst Laiq is serving his 20 years in Nashik prison, Varun seeks refuge as a warehouse foreman in the small town of Badlapur near Mumbai.
This is the basic premise of the film. The film completely is Sriram’s movie, with every character playing their part to perfection. They do not overshadow their film due to the individual personas. So on one side you have the grim, bearded, soul dead Raghu played by Varun beautifully and on the other hand you have a pot bellied, about to retire heart patient cop, Govind portrayed exceptionally well by Kumud Mishra.
The cinematography by Anil Mehta is realistic and stark. The film is not treated as a fast paced thriller and hence the actions subside on you in a slow manner. Aided by the well timed background score by Sachin – Jigar, the music of the film is a big bonus. The songs although there do not jar the narrative.
Pooja Ladha Surti’s editing is good, although one does feel post interval 10 minutes drag the film, but in the overall scheme of things, it works well.
As I said, the film is not a fast paced, action laced thriller, so don’t go expecting that. It is revenge drama and the plot and the revenge take their time. So whilst the first half is all about wanting and searching his perpetrators, the second half is dedicated to Raghu’s revenge and its impact on all.
The best thing about the film and its director’s vision is the performances extracted by him. Not one performance, irrespective of length will you find wanting. Be it Pratima playing the hapless mom of a no good Laiq, the cameo by Zakir or Kumud’s well played cop. Even Ashwini Kalsekar and Murli Sharma excel in their cameos.
Yami Gautam is making a habit of playing the hapless victim. Wont do her much good in the long run. She does bring a sparkle on the screen and its worth seeing her chemistry with Varun.
Divya Dutta as the social activist brings in a certain maturity required and matches upto the 15 years older Raghu.
A good actor doesn’t need a 2 minute monologue to prove his prowess, sometimes a glance is more than enough. Vinay Pathak proves that in the interval scene. Radhika Apte (Rakht Charitra & Shor in the City) in obviously her most glamorous role again lends equal support to the story and its narrative.
Bringing us to the 3 main protagonists in the film, starting off with the femme fatale, Jhimli, a prostitute played by Huma Qureshi. Huma was intentionally kept away from the promotional campaign of the film and it works. In her pre interval portions, she proves her mettle as an actress, be it the fear in her eyes on being caught or the disdain on being asked to perform her ‘’job’’. Stunning looks and an excellent performance. Even her older self 15 years later, shows so much restrain as the character who is a prisoner of her own world.
Varun Dhawan did cause a slight stir when he chose to go ahead with this script, with people wondering was he too young for this part, or was it too early for him to portray such dark roles, when he is only 3 films old, cashing in on his chocolate boy looks and 6 packs. But hats off to the director and him for pulling this off with such great sincerity. Varun’s interpretation of Raghu is sincere, lost yet single minded about something which he has no clue how he is going to go about achieving it. He patiently waits for 15 years in a remote town, so that he can be reminded of his revenge, in a self created prison. This film is bound to take him ahead of his contemporaries by miles.
Coming to the star of the film. Yes, people might flock to see Varun, but the film belongs to Laiq portrayed so effortlessly by the Nawazuddin Siddiqui. His common thief, all bones no muscle no personality, no luck portrayal of Laiq is one of the best in recent times by anybody. Not only does he steal every scene that he is in, but he also makes you wonder all the while, what his criminal mind will come up with next. One of his best roles till date.
Sreeram has made a pure adult revenge drama wherein all characters are prisoners of their own doing. Although its only Laiq who is sentenced to 20 years, but all of them, Jhimli and Raghu live in their own prisons. The abrupt end too, will leave you as empty as Raghu, who even after avenging his family, still has a vacuum, an emptiness. I would go one step further wherein towards the end, he shows a complete role reversal, with Laiq moving on in life with his inherent want to do something good and Raghu being left alone with his grief.
By: Yusuf Poonawala