- Release Date: 1/6/2018
- Cast: Priyanshu Painyuli, Harshvardhan Kapoor, Ashish Verma, Nishikant Kamat, Pabitra Rabha
- Director: Vikramaditya Motwane
Alfred Hitchcock once said that the greatest pleasure and success of a thrill lies in its “release”. Bhavesh Joshi Superhero falters on this one count. For everything else, it is one of the most gripping, original and heartwarming tale of camaraderie, justice and simmering drama that will mark India’s first foray into an actual Indian-Superhero genre. And it’s no wonder that the man taking us there is none other than Vikramaditya Motwane [Udaan (2010), Lootera (2013), Trapped (2017)]. I learned that Bhavesh Joshi Superhero was in the making for almost 10 years and in that period its plot jumped from one social issue to another finally zeroing in on the water supply issue. Thankfully nothing in the film gives us any clue about those shifts and the story feels coherent, contemporary and above all appealing.
Bhavesh (Priyanshu Painyuli) and Sikandar (Harshvardhan Kapoor) are best of friends who want to do something for the society. They are shown begging the police to arrest them on the eve of the Lokpal Bill protests and Jan-Satyagraha. Soon, Bhavesh and Sikandar start a channel called “Insaaf TV” on which they go ahead and stop petty crimes and offenses until the Jan-Satyagraha movement fails. Sikandar moves on, gets himself a good job and is all set to move to the US. Bhavesh, however, is still hell-bent on pursuing his dreams of doing something for the country. It is at this juncture that a man approaches Bhavesh with a problem that feels trivial to start with but proves to be life-changing for both Bhavesh and Sikandar.
Bhavesh Joshi Superhero takes its time to get to the point but all of it —- every second of it—- is necessary. This isn’t the kind of film that would have worked without us getting an emotional connect with the characters and that would be impossible if the characters were not given enough time to flesh out. For a large chunk of the film, the real hero is Bhavesh. He is honest, goes by the book and wants to do something for the country. Sikandar, like all of us, is practical. He wants a decent life for himself and there is nothing wrong with it. He is all set to roll when a harsh action on his part sets his friend on harm’s way. We wouldn’t have felt a thing about it all had it not been for the time we spent seeing the two friends shaping up in a way that would finally bring them to that very point.
Once Sikandar takes over from Bhavesh, the film becomes an exciting affair. I was astonished by the amount of realism and gusto that Motwane brings to the film. Every– and I mean –every action sequence sees Sikandar get beaten in some way or the other. He makes it out of the messes but not without his share of bruises and concussions. He is awkward, he is untrained and even after receiving some training from a karate teacher played by Pabitra Rabha, he is overwhelmed when he faces off against a gang of thugs. But still, he is able to achieve what he sets out to do. This film will even put Hollywood to shame with its firm grasp on realism.
The performances lie at the heart of the story. Priyanshu Painyuli is terrific as Bhavesh. His performance extracts the kind of emotions that would easily make any of his friends risk his neck for him. He is so natural and organic that at a point in the film, it felt as if he would overtake the charm of Harshvardhan Kapoor. The scenes where we learn about the psyche of the friends through their conversations are made what they are by the performances and Painyuli is at the heart of it all. The second half belongs to Harshvardhan and he does a fabulous job with it. Here is an actor who will gradually rise through the ranks and will one day become India’s premier star for the simple reason that he acts exceptionally well. He never tries to overplay his role, understands his part and faithfully sticks to it. I loved the emotional depth that he brought to his character. The way he displays the torture that he is going through was refreshingly real.
Ashish Verma as the third friend in the group does very well too. His character assumes importance towards the end and right from the beginning he feels like an organic extension of the duo. He is to Sikandar what Alfred is to Batman. Nishikant Kamat is a seasoned actor and he does a superb evil turn here. He is scary and feels capable of delivering on every threat that he makes. The man who is playing his second in command (Corporator Patil) —-whose name I couldn’t find on the net—- is equally able. It’s actually he who has a meatier role out of the two and he successfully delivers on all counts. It would be wrong not to mention Pabitra Rabha, our Assam boy and an NSD alumnus who plays the trainer of Sikandar. I could see shades of Adrak Chacha (from the Raj Comic Series “Doga”) in his act. He was great.
Bhavesh Joshi Superhero boasts of a chase sequence that is unlike anything that we have seen in Hindi films. A motorcycle chase that starts from a Beer Bar, moves all the way through a railway station, a train Bogey and culminates back on the highway. It was a thrilling sequence that will stay with me for a very long time. The hand to hand combats are done exceptionally well. It’s not just the moves and the gusto that the fights exude but the amount of realism that we find in them that makes them so much more than just eye-candy set pieces.
My only qualm with the film was that after all that buildup and doing so much right, it just doesn’t punish it’s baddies enough. Atleast I could have done with a little more action and violence. If not that, they could have done a little bit more physical damage to the baddies which just doesn’t happen. A mere court case and a glimpse of floored bodyguards was not “release” enough.
I loved Bhavesh Joshi Superhero. Unlike what the critics want us to believe, Bhavesh Joshi Superhero is tense, gripping, presents real problems and offers an uncanny and fantastical solution to it all. It is well acted, has great action and is realistic. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that it is India’s first realistic and effective Superhero film. A film like this should be watched and appreciated not only for its craft but also for the audacity that it shows with its unconventional and original take on real problems. A must watch.
Rating: 4/5 (5 out of 5 Stars)