Go on, dedicate as many romantic songs to the moon as you want, it will still continue to have its dark side. Ask the moon about it and it won’t really know about it… and I’m unsure if Raghu, the main protagonist of ‘Badlapur’, really knew about his dark side.
The film transits from romantic flashbacks to heart-wrenching quivers of personal loss and then over to a grim world of vengeance with not a single frame that doesn’t deserve to be there or that remains to slow the pace. The dark under-currents get the right focus by cinematographer Anil Mehta and the tempo never lags or sags probably because of Pooja Ladha Surti… but the mood maintains its edginess and grip utterly due to Sriram Raghavan, the Director.
If an actor is quoted to have said in an interview to IANS that he “suffered a lot while doing this film,” you can very well imagine the impact on the audience. Yes, Varun Dhawan walks away from being a ‘chocolate boy’ in the film and shows us the darker side makes even the phrase ‘cold and calculating’ sound like a tame cliché. I distinctly remember holding my glass of a cold beverage without taking a sip as my mind oscillated between the grimness of the expected and the ghastliness of the unexpected.
The film begins with a bank robbery and two murders that just happen when the mind is in the twilight zone between panic and rage. And thus even before you have finished squirming in your seat to settle down properly for your movie-watching, you see Misha (Yami Gautam) and her child getting killed in an unexpected murder by Liak (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and Harman (Vinay Pathak)… no wonder then that “don’t miss the beginning and don’t miss the end of the film” are so strongly recommended by even the director.
If you can imagine your shadow rising to gobble you up and then lending its grim and dark philosophy to a world that is bathed in light, you will know what is happening in the film… and if you cannot imagine it, the impact will be powerful enough to let you keep sitting until even the credits are over as the film ends. There are intrigues spread all over the film and they are the elements that keep you watching the film… and the intrigue starts at the start itself with an African proverb that goes: ‘The axe forgets, the tree remembers’.
If you’re the sort who reads a review to know what the story is, let me just tell you that fear doesn’t need a story… it makes its entry if the ambience is right. The dark hall is just the place where this film makes its impact. No ghosts, no vampires, no Bollywood antics to induce fear. This film does it with the right cinematography capturing expressions with a perfection that most films don’t. At times it is difficult to believe that this film comes from the director of Agent Vinod, Ek Hasina Thi and Johnny Gaddar. It is difficult to believe that Varun Dhawan can fit in so snugly in a dark, edgy, and gripping role. I guess a lot of credit must go to the director. . Talking about Sriram, producer Dinesh Vijan of Maddock Films says, “He is one of the purest filmmakers I know and also the craziest. Badlapur is unadulterated Raghavan. He has found the perfect accomplice to depict this madness in Varun Dhawan in a never before seen role.” Even the music adds to the dark force that the film is all about… and songs like ‘jee karda’ and ‘judai’ add to the seriousness.
I have no idea if the film will seem as effective if you’re watching it on the chota screen, but try and sit with the room darkened and make sure no one gets up to make tea or coffee… but don’t worry, no one will.
Cast: Varun Dhawan, Huma Qureshi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Yami Gautam, Radhika Apte, Vinay Pathak, Divya Dutta
Director: Sriram Raghavan
16 June 2015