Badlapur Review

  • 4/5

On the spur of the moment I went to see the last showing of Badlapur last night before the end of its run, and my neighbor Nish came along.

Man is this movie DARK! Raghu played by Varun Dhawan is a loving husband and father that embarks on a years long quest for revenge after his wife and child are brutally killed.

My neighbor pointed out something interesting about the name of the movie. Badla can mean revenge so revenge - place (City) OR it can also have the meaning of Change. The double meaning of the word applies to both main characters. (It's also a real place, named for where people used' to change horses.)

To me what was interesting was the parallel track of the two characters, as we don't often get almost equal time for the criminal's POV. Here LIak, one of bank robber/car jackers is the criminal from the beginning that you're supposed to hate, you see have this long lasting love with Jhimli the prostitute and he does something selfless in the end. He truly changes.

I had read about the misogyny in the film, but I think particularly the first rape scene shows that Raghu, the grieving husband and father who should be our hero, is now a monster. We are not really rooting for Raghu at that point. He is not Liam Neeson killing all the bad guys, while remaining good. He doesn't remain good. We are shown that his quest for revenge has made HIM the bigger monster (and Liak points that out to him.)

I also thought about that recent rape case in India where an entire town just chased down and lynched the guy. No trial, no jail, just mob justice. In a country where those things can happen, this filmmaker is showing how one criminal was changed and reformed after years, and that "pure" revenge type justice makes someone a monster. A true monster, not just someone who pressed the trigger of of a gun in the heat of a crazy moment.

But, to the point of those who criticize the misogyny in the film, the only woman who escapes Raghu's wrath is the mother of Liak. Because she comes right to Raghu with information. Anyone who shows sympathy with the two criminals becomes the enemy of Raghu. There is a twist where I really thought that he had killed another woman character, too, but he metes out his own version of justice on her.

Badlapur is not a movie I'd sit through again, but I truly admire the acting. I looked up the amazing guy who plays Liak, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and he's been in so many things that I've seen! He was the young guy in The Lunchbox, and I think the Intelligence agent in Kahaani. What a great character actor. It was worth it just to see him act. And Varun! This is the darling boy from Humpty Sharma and Student of the Year? What a transformation, and my hat's off to him for being willing to go this dark to show his range as an actor.

Nish's reaction was interesting because she said, "Indian movies aren't supposed to be like that. This is something really new. The hero always remains the hero. If he does something bad, a surprise is revealed that justifies his actions." She seemed even more shocked because it really subverted her expectations of what an Indian film would show and be. Frankly, it's interesting to see a film that subverts your expectations and shows people with shades of gray. It reminded me of Baazigar in a way --- another revenge film where our view of the "hero" keeps flipping, Yes, SRK had reason for revenge, but who was the bigger monster in the end?