Sriram Raghavan creates a heady mix of emotions, wit and vengeance to keep you hooked

The axe forgets; The tree remembers. Director Sriram Raghavan’s Badlapur starts off with this African proverb, clearly setting the tone of the film to be a revengeful saga. The film has Raghavan’s class written all over it, just like his previous flick Agent Vinod, but this time around the filmmaker strikes the right chords unlike Saif Ali Khan-Kareena Kapoor Khan starrer. Varun Dhawan’s transformation from a boy next door to a head smashing murderer, has been the film’s selling point and the actor did show promise with hard hitting promos of Badlapur. So does Varun deliver what he promised? I will tell you in a while as we dive into the review.

What’s it about:

Badlapur takes you through one man’s quest for revenge over a span of 15 years. Raghu(Varun) loses his wife Misha(Yami) and kid, when they are accidentally killed in a bank robbery by Layak( Nawaz) and his partner in crime Hurman( Vinay Pathak). While Hurman escapes with money, Layak is nabbed by the police and is sentenced to imprisonment for 20 years. Meanwhile, Raghu tries to extract the name of Layak’s partner but in vain. After 15 years, a NGO worker, Shobha( Divya Dutta), appears at Raghu’s doorstep, informing him that Layak is dying from cancer and pleads to Raghu to furnish a forgiveness letter so that Layak can spend his remaining days of his life in the open. Through Layak’s mother, Raghu gets to know the whereabouts of Hurman and decides to forgive Layak. Soon Layak is freed, but Raghu goes after Hurman and his wife Kanchan( Radhika Apte) torturing them psychologically before brutally murdering them. Soon Layak tries to contact Hurman for his share of money from robbery, but in turn comes face to face with Raghu and gets to know that his friend has been murdered. How do Raghu and Layak settle their equation forms the climax of the story.

What’s good:

Like any Sriram Raghavan film, Badlapur is technically sound, with flawless camera work and some crisp editing. While story might not be an intelligent one, it is witty, cheeky and driven by the feeling of revenge. Varun Dhawan has given an honest performance, and the hard work that he had put for the role is evident onscreen. His brooding demeanour, and unique, at times torturous, revenge seeking antics will leave you in awe and I can surely say I have new found respect for Varun. But it is Nawazuddin Siddiqui who steals the show, with his amazing body language, which is witty and at times cheeky, making you wonder is there anything the actor can’t do. Nawaz nails the shadiness of Layak’s character, but also shows his emotional side with his love for Jhimli played by Huma Qureshi. Vinay Pathak and Radhika Apte are fantastic in their small but important roles and play an integral part in the film’s narrative. Scenes involving Dhawan, Apte and Pathak are simply mind blowing. Yami Gautam looks gorgeous in a tiny role and Huma, playing a prostitute, gives a decent performance, though her character didn’t seem to have any impact on the story. Sachin-Jigar’s music blends perfectly with the genre of the film. Sriram Raghavan’s direction is praiseworthy as he tells a simple tale with so much impact, deriving some award winning performances from his actors. The film has portions of semi nudity and implied sex scenes, which has been handled deftly.

What’s bad:

The film’s first half is a drag as the actual revenge drama unfolds only after the interval. Though Varun has done a terrific job, he seems to be a little out of place at the start of the film, but later gets into the skin of his character with every passing minute. Neither the film’s title nor it’s tag line – Don’t miss the begin, make much sense as they don’t seem to be in sync with the story. The film’s climax is sort of an anti-climax and is a huge let down, but luckily doesn’t squander the film’s impact which it had build over the span of two hours.

What to do:

It is not an everyday occurrence when a film manages to be witty, bold and classy at the same time. If you enjoy intense dark flicks, Badlapur is for you. Even if dark films are not your cup of tea, watch it for Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Varun Dhawan, who are the heart and soul of the film.

Rating:3.5 out of 53.5 Star Rating

Reviewed by Subramanian Harikumar

* Poor


** Average

*** Good

**** Very good

***** Excellent