What will you do if your wife and your son is killed by a someone and then that someone gets caught and imprisoned for 20 years? What if you are not completely sure whether the man imprisoned is the murderer and you are in look out for his elusive partner thinking that he might as well be the killer? What if you find the men responsible for the deaths and you are at the liberty to do as you please? Badlapur is a film about these questions. There may be varied answers to these questions and the way you answer these questions will dwell on your psyche as a man. In Badlapur Sriram Raghavan dissects the psyche of a man called Raghu and the manner in which he goes about extracting his revenge. The result is a thoroughly entertaining and edge of the seat experience which will serve most lovers of the genre well.
The film opens with a rather long take that lasts for about 5 minutes which shows us how a hapless mother and a child falls into the hands of two robbers who have just robbed a bank. One of the two goes on to kill both the mother and the child in fits of rage and finally paves the way for his partner to escape before he is apprehended. Meanwhile the husband is informed about the incident and his world comes crashing down. Raghu (Varun Dhawan) hires a private eye to get some details about the possible partner of the robber Liak (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). She comes up with the name and address of his lover Jhimli (Huma Qureshi). Raghu uses her to extract information about the partner but when she proves to be useless, he brutally rapes her just for the satisfaction. Meanwhile Liak is sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment and Raghu settles down in the sleepy town of Badlapur waiting for him to come out.
In fifteenth year, Liak is diagnosed with cancer and he begs to be sent out of jail so that he may spend the last one year of his life with his mother. Raghu signs a memorandum granting him pardon for his deeds and he does so after Liak’s mother gives him the whereabouts of the partner. Now Raghu has the address of the man he has been searching for 15 years. Liak also comes out of jail and the two murderers are all set to face their nemesis. But Ragu still doesn’t know who is the one among the two who pulled the trigger on his wife and hurled his son out of the car. The rest of the film is about how Raghu finally extracts his revenge.
Like I mentioned before, Badlapur is a story which could have gone anyway. There could be a story in which the hero remains goodie! goodie! and burns in his vengeance until he finally gets the two guys and extract his revenge. It could also be about the hero forgiving his perpetrators and settling down into a blessed existence with new people but Raghu is a man who extracts the most gruesome of revenges in the most despicable of manners and in doing so he loses his soul to the devil. There are sequences in the film which will blur the line between good and evil and will put the manner in which the revenge is being extracted to question. This is where the director deserves kudos primarily because of his willingness to do what most people fear in Bollywood i.e. turning the hero into an anti-hero. Liak is sleazy rouge but he still has the last laugh by the end. Raghu extracts his revenge but still ends up with nothing.
Badlapur is a thriller which shows you who the killer is in the very first scene. Having done that, the task of keeping the rest of the film thrilling was cut out for the director. The success of the story would also bank on his ability to manipulate the emotions. That is done superbly here by some clever writing and astounding performances by the lead men Varun and Nawaz. The film keeps you in the edge of your seats throughout its duration. The question in this film is not who the killer is but how Raghu will extract his revenge. There is some serious gore which again is presented in a manner befitting the setting and mood of the film but still it may be a deterrent for many a viewer. Varun Dhawan after a series of mushy roles sheds every little bollywoodish charm associated with him to become the menacing heartless brute that Raghu is. His transformation is even more shocking primarily because of the glimpses of his past that we keep getting via some well crafted flashbacks which by the way are the only time Yami Gautam makes an appearance. She has limited screen time but plays her part well in the narrative.
Nawaz is superlative. He is as hateable as he is funny. His one on ones with Varun and in certain cases with Huma are both enjoyable and thought provoking. Look out for the climatic showoff between him and Varun and how it all ends. Huma Qureshi is great to start with and adds further credence to her character by the time we reach the end of the film. The end could again be a matter of discontent for many, but I feel that taking a different path shunning the stereotypes was a welcome change. Overall Badlapur was satisfying primarily because of its clever writing, bravura performances and superb execution. This may not be your run of the mills entertainer but will surely keep you glued to your seats. Highly recommended.