Badlapur: A Cathartic Revenge Drama That Needs To Be Lauded

While last year it was Vikas Bahl’s ‘Queen’ that came in as a huge surprise, this year undoubtedly is the Varun Dhawan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui starrer ‘Badlapur’ that is going to make headlines. Sriram Raghavan, after the ‘Agent Vinod’ debacle, churns out a film which is an example of what fine film-making is all about.

BADLAPUR THEATRICAL POSTER

BADLAPUR THEATRICAL POSTER

Rarely one would find an actor, who is just three films old, who would take up a challenging role, and pull it off strikingly. Rarely, in Bollywood, one would find a story-screenplay so nicely written and rarely would you find a character like Liak, played earnestly by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, whom you empathise with more than Raghu (Varun Dhawan).

That’s the power of a film like ‘Badlapur’. The sheer unpredictability of its characters, the transition that each one undergoes in the 2 hrs and 15 minutes of the film and the catharsis that one experiences through Raghu’s revenge in the penultimate moments.

Since the time Sriram Raghavan made ‘Ek Hasina Thi’, he has always had a knack of having grey characters. And that continues with ‘Badlapur’ as well, wherein even the least important character, with no major role to play in the film, springs up a surprise. And such small insights make ‘Badlapur’ a riveting experience.

Coming to the story, Raghu loses his wife Misha (Yami Gautam) and his son, who are killed under unfortunate circumstances after a bank robbery. While it is obvious to assume who is behind the robbery, Sriram Raghavan lets the audience think and ponder even as Raghu vows to take revenge, despite meeting his wife’s killer/s. He keeps you hooked till the last fifteen minutes with several twists and turns that spring up huge surprises.

It goes without saying that ‘Badlapur’ is Sriram’s finest work after Johnny Gaddar. The sharp writing (Sriram Raghavan and Arijit Biswas), the sleek editing (Pooja Ladha Surti), the top notch cinematography (Anil Mehta) and exemplary performances from the lead cast makes ‘Badlapur’ one awesome movie experience. A haunting background score by Sachin-Jigar also makes it more engaging, adding soul to the dark revenge saga.

Of the female leads, Huma Qureshi impresses with her seducing act, followed by Divya Dutta and Radhika Apte. Yami Gautam as Varun’s wife has a small role but plays it with conviction.

Varun Dhawan, in just his fourth film, impresses with his performance and plays Raghu’s character with so much maturity. It is good for an actor of his stature, who has so far played subtle roles, to do a film like ‘Badlapur’, which gives him so much scope as an actor. One cannot ignore the expressiveness of the actor and his desperation to seek revenge. Varun Dhawan is lucky to grab an opportunity, a film like ‘Badlapur’, so early in his career.

But personally, if ‘Badlapur’ raises its bar as a film, it is because of Nawazuddin Siddiqui and his character Liak. Liak is what keeps ‘Badlapur’ moving. Unpredictable, wicked and menacing is what could sum up his character. He again proves that one does not need a villain, dressed in dapper suits and superior in style to carry of a film. Sometimes being the wicked poor man may just win more brownie points!

Final Verdict: ‘Badlapur’ is a cathartic revenge drama that has only raised the bar of the films made in Bollywood. We need more of such films. It’s a film that surely deserves a watch!

Rating : *** 1/2

DEDH ISHQIYA – Naseeruddin Shah’s Class Act

Hi All,

There is a great memory associated with Vishal Bhardwaj and Abhishek Chaubey’s ‘Ishqiya’, when it released in 2010. It was the first film that I wrote the review for, a start to my reviewing career, and from then it’s been a journey of four years. And I feel happier and ecstatic to review ‘Dedh Ishqiya’ as, the film in a way completes the circle. And more importantly because this Naseer-Arshad, Madhuri-Huma starrer isn’t like the sequels or trilogies made in recent times.

dedhishqiya-8b

It has matured with time, in class, grandeur and style, which only a few are brave enough to laud considering the ‘MASS MOVIE MOVEMENT’ (what I call in the Dedh Ishqiya lingo – Ch*****pa – The 7th stage of Love!!) Dedh Ishqiya boasts of some rich age-old Urdu tradition and poetry finely blended with doses of black humour, a genre, which only Vishal Bhardwaj over the years has managed to master well. The extremely royal look, the Lucknowi, Nawabi mizaaj, and a smart way of using subtitles for the chaste Urdu dialogues, only make Dedh Ishqiya scale to better heights and need I mention the way the actors play their parts!

Khalujaan a.k.a Ifteqaar (Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Warsi) continue their con- endeavour and land up in trouble with Mushtaq Bhai (Salman Shahid), their uncle, and each time manage to escape from his clutches. Running away from their enemies, the duo land at Mehmoodabad where Begum Para (Madhuri Dixit) has organised a kavi melan, in memory of her late husband. It is here that Begum will choose the new Nawab and re-marry bound by promise to her late husband. Supporting her is her confidante Muniya (Huma Qureshi), who helps Begum cope up with her loneliness and depression.

Khalujaan comes disguised as Nawab of Chandpur and woos magic on Begum, while Babban falls in love with her aide Muniya. Things get worse when Jaan Muhammad Khan (Vijay Raaz) also is in love with Begum and on the final day of the poetry celebration, Begum’s decision takes a turn leading to a twist in the tale. This is what forms the crux of ‘Dedh Ishqiya’.

Dedh Ishqiya in comparison to its prequel, does fall short in enticing audiences with the oomph factor (Vidya Balan’s sizzling seductress act), but what it manages to succeed is, drown the audiences into a world where rich Urdu poetry and love go hand in hand, true royal style. There is immense elegance in the way the actors deliver the lines, as also the movements of Begum Para. To top it, the witty dialogues (written by Vishal Bhardwaj) leave you spellbound. Rarely does one come across in Indian cinema, where story, artistic dialogues and enriching production design come together to create a visual poetry on screen. And Dedh Ishqiya is one such rare film. If the early 80’s were witness to classics like ‘Pakeezah’ and ‘Umrao Jaan’, ‘Dedh Ishqiya’ is the modern classic reminiscent of that era, yet modern in approach.

What makes the visuals beautiful is the excellent combo of Cinematography and sleek editing by Setu and Sreekar Prasad respectively. The music by Vishal Bhardwaj, may not be on popularity charts, but it does speaks volumes about how much importance does a film-maker pay to art in the age of peppy song and dance. With Gulzar helming the lyrics, there is just good things to offer on the platter.

Of the performances, Vijay Raaz emerges as the biggest triumph of ‘Dedh Ishqiya’ after the leads, Madhuri, Arshad and Huma. Post his Delhi-Belly act as a villain, this one surely is another feather in the cap for the versatile actor.

Madhuri Dixit makes a superb comeback as Begum Para. The role suits her to perfection and the vivacious actress does absolute justice. The grace wouldn’t be the same as before when it comes to dancing, but nevertheless it is a delight to watch Madhuri on screen.

Arshad Warsi once again proves his mettle with a performance that will surely be in contention for several awards. Warsi as Babban, with his accented Urdu shines with his impeccable comic timing as well as his angry outbursts in scenes with Naseer and Huma.

Huma Qureshi packs a solid punch with her role. She may not have ample screen time as Madhuri, but the lady does manage to spring on surprises with her performance.

But to me, if Dedh Ishqiya works, it’s primarily because of one man – Naseeruddin Shah.

It is probably late in his career that Naseer gets to play a character, so earnest in thought, a die-hard romantic and it just gets better with each delivery. The lovelorn, Ifteqaar seeking real and true love, the non competent shayar, sufi, is played exceedingly well by the great legend, who with his wonderful execution of dialogues and poetry delivers the most honest performance of ‘Dedh Ishqiya’. Scenes where he first comes to the stage and spells magic with his poetry, the point where Begum’s decision leaves him devastated and the penultimate climax, just makes us fall for the class act.

FINAL VERDICT: Dedh Ishqiya is a film meant strictly for people who appreciate dark humour, have a liking for Urdu poetry and classical music. Don’t waste money or energy if mass entertainers are your thing. In that case you would end up disappointed. It’s a film that has a rich cultural and poetic appeal. Watch it for the crackling chemistry between Naseer-Arshad and the undying romance between Naseer-Madhuri. Ageless is the word! Go for it!!!

RATING: ****