“Bol tune khoon nahi kiya hai!” yells a frustrated cop to Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s character, Laik in one of the pivotal scenes of Shreeram Raghavan’s Badlapur, where one would expect a cop to utter, “Bol tune khoon kiya hai!”, at least as per the conventions of our films. It is one of such ‘let’s-burst-the-stereotypes’ kind of treatment that Shreeram Raghavan gives to Badlapur, where the writer-director is back to his Johny Gaddar and Ek Haseena Thi mode. Welcome back, sir.
“Bol tune khoon nahi kiya hai!” yells a frustrated cop to Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s character, Laik in one of the pivotal scenes of Shriram Raghavan’s Badlapur, where one would expect a cop to utter, “Bol tune khoon kiya hai!”, at least as per the conventions of our films. It is one of such ‘let’s-burst-the-stereotypes’ kind of treatment that Shriram Raghavan gives to Badlapur, where the writer-director is back to his Johny Gaddar and Ek Haseena Thi mode. Welcome back, sir.
Badlapur finds its title from an actual place near Mumbai called Badlapur near Thane. The place has an interesting history of warriors changing their horses in anticipation of difficult climb through the Konkan. The railways later used to change tracks at Badlapur. It is hence a befitting title for a film with screenplay that changes its tracks every minute and throws surprises at you, often catching you unawares. Well, that’s what thrillers are about and Shriram Raghavan knows his craft of leaving the audience dumbstruck enough to forget they’re carrying a smartphone.
Varun Dhawan pitches a performance that clearly shows that the ‘Student of the year’ has graduated with distinction in acting and histrionics. He sheds his ‘Tera hero idhar hai’ and ‘Saturday Saturday’ image and becomes Raghu Raghav. Right from “I am going to be a father! I did it!” kind of college passed-out husband, to the seething and brooding father, Varun makes you believe he’s Raghu and you root for him, despite the (fifty) grey shades he wears up his sleeves.
At the risk of sounding blasphemous, one can easily proclaim that Nawazuddin takes his character Laik to the territories never explored by any antagonist till date, including the Prans, Amjads, Amrishs we’ve grown up watching. Sample this: (Not a spoiler) Laik looks up at the balcony and threatens a guy to kill him if he raises his hand on Huma Qureshi (Brilliant, as always). If you notice closely, Nawazuddin’s body language is akin to a watchman threatening someone, yet his eyes clearly indicate that he means business. This is a tough feat to achieve, and a technique Nawazuddin ably employs in many such scenes of Badlapur.
With Badlapur, he does an encore of the Bandini song from Johny Gaddar, where filmy songs resonate the thoughts of Nawazuddin’s character, right from the Sholay’s dialogue of Gabbar threatening of a jailbreak, to the jailbreak anthem, ‘Kaun kisi ko baandh saka, saiyaad to ek deewana hai’ from the movie, Kaalia. The writers Arijit Biswas and Shriram Raghavan ensure that the scenes stick to reality with a tinge of humour, especially where Nawazuddin outwits his one-legged inmate and the ‘lunch’ scenes with Vinay Pathak.
Last, but as the cliché goes, not the least, it’s the ensemble of ladies in the film and their unique characters that make Badlapur special. Huma Qureshi has a complex role and she plays it with conviction with an interesting play of silences and outbursts. Yami Gautam’s character is personification of vulnerability, which is completely justified by her performance. Divya Dutta, Ashwini Khalsekar and Radhika Apte make their presence felt, despite limited screen presence, yet intricately connected to Varun’s character.
Ashok Mehta shoots Badlapur with a close-to-reality approach. The opening scene begins with a static camera and later transforms into a frenzy, which is crisply edited by Pooja Ladha Surti that shall leave you awestruck, hence the tagline: Don’t miss the beginning. To sum it up, Badlapur will Badla-fy the way our films perceive Badla films. As the African proverb in the opening title suggests: The axe forgets; but the tree remembers.