Saturday, March 07, 2015

Sriram Raghavan's Badlapur, a convoluted tale of crime and punishment, with good shots and theatrics which does not qualify to be cinema

The ambition of the ambitious new directors in Hindi cinema is to strike noir note as their signature. It is nice to be ambitious and there is also nothing wrong if they miss the mark. It can be said that they tried. Sriram Raghavan's Badlapur is an elaborate tale of revenge, with too many commercial Hindi cinema turns and twists but without the emotional quotient of the commercial genre. Raghav or Raghu, played by Varun Dhawan (he resembles and sound like Rajkummar Rao (who won the national award for best actor), is trapped in his obsession for revenge. He remains almost a card-board character, and so does the character Liak, played by Nawazuddin Siddqui, unfortunately an overrated actor for his so-called studied underwhelming histrionics.
The story is supposed to attain depth of the characters in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables or Dostoevski's Crime and Punishment. At the same time, there is the compulsion to be crisp and shimmering like a Hollywood crime thriller. The rain scenes are one of the most authentically ever shot in Hindi cinema. And so are some of those crane shots of the train passing through or the traffic in Pune streets. The opening scene of the M.G.Road in Pune is indeed real.
The women characters are charming -- Yami Gautam, Huma Qureshi, Divya Dutta, Radhika Apte and even Ashwini Kalsekar. They bring in the third dimension to the film's plot though they are supposed to be mere props. The women reveal both emotional and moral commitment, which the men seem to lack conspicuously.
Raghavan seems to have assumed that the men should be stoic and sullen and silent and terse. But their actions and their characterisation lacks both imagination and depth.
Badlapur fails to be Hollywood crime thriller nor does it qualify to be a commercial revenge drama.
The interesting thing is that when directors like Raghavan seem to feel that it would be a weak-kneed film if there is a sense of moral responsibility in the lead characters is laughable machismo. Liak taking up moral responsibility seems to have been inserted to meet the demands of the plot rather than the portrayal of Liak.
So the screenplay meanders and the director seems to focus on matter-of-fact gore.What is the saving grace of the much-hyped and a disappointing film is the cinematography of Anil Mehta. He captures the landscape quite impressively. But it does not help because the film has no serious story to tell.

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