Director Sriram Raghavan strikes the hammer of genius with BADLAPUR for he buys your eyes and makes you stay glued to the screen right till the end. The biggest highlight of the film is the incredible tussle between two powerful actors Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Varun Dhawan unexpectedly conjoined by the quirky screenplay-labyrinth. The makers have aptly labeled this film as a 'Twisted Entertainer'. Yes, the film is dark, gory and violent, but, at the same time, it's also cerebrally stimulating and entertaining. The artistic values are top notch but it's meant for a select audience that patronizes sensible, sensitive, meaningful cinema.
Misha (Yaami Gautam) and her son Robin are killed by a bank robber Laik (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). Misha's cheerful husband Raghu (Varun Dhawan) is devastated and shattered. He tries every possible means to get even with Laik, including forced sex with Laik's prostitute girlfriend Jhimli (Huma Qureshi) to humiliate him. Laik is sentenced to twenty years prison term where he makes several unsuccessful jail-break-attempts. Fifteen years later, Raghu 'facilitates' Laik's premature exit from the jail. The twists-in-the-plot continues, ensuring a roller coaster thrilling ride.
BADLAPUR, which is reportedly based on a true story, sees Sriram Raghavan and Arijit Biswas write a wonderful screenplay. Sriram Raghavan navigates the film in a non linear format, thus, keeping you guessing at many a juncture. The viewer is foxed when the narrative floats between Raghu's 'lunch' with Harman (Vinay Pathak), Koko (Radhika Apte) and Shobha (Divya Dutta).
Nawazuddin Siddiqui is indeed God's gift to cinema. You hate him as if he's a stench and then he changes colours and floors you with another peculiar shade. His character Laik is an extremely deceptive character with a distinct body language that makes him look weak, even though he is as wily as a fox. He becomes a different person when he's interacting with Raghu, Jhimli, policemen and his old mother. Some of his interactions with fellow jail inmate Murli Sharma are hilarious. He will also turn your eyes moist.
Varun Dhawan is a very ambitious actor and his manic energy does full justice to this ambition in BADLAPUR. His transformation from an impressionable teenager and a caring husband to an eerily quiet middle aged lonely-disgruntled-man is simply legendary, to say the least. He gives you an ample display of class as an actor. The fidgety memories, ready-to-roll-tears gradually becoming a parched tsunami of desolateness, the friendship with relentless rage and effortlessly getting infested by cold bloodedness. With this film, Varun emerges as one of the finest actors that we have today, across all age groups.
Yaami Gautam and Huma Qureshi have small roles, which they portray competently. Radhika Apte and Vinay Pathak impress in their cameos. The scene where Varun asks Radhika to lose her inhibitions is devoid of undue salaciousness and that's laudatory on the part of the director. Pratima Kazmi as Nawaz's mother is very good.
Anil Mehta's cinematography is brilliant. Mostly, the film has been shot in dark or indoors, but there's always the right amount of lighting to give it the realistic tinge. The only problem is that while the film grips the viewers in the solid first half, it gets loosened up in the stretched second half. Pooja Ladha Surti's editing is good but had the film been crisper in the second half, it definitely would have propelled up the film's fast-paced-thriller format. Music and background score by Sachin-Jigar provides solid scaffolding. 'Jee Karda', 'Jeena' and 'Judai' are exceptional tracks. The background music is effective in pulling just-the-right strings at opportune time.
After a tepid AGENT VINOD, spoilt by needless item numbers, Sriram Raghavan is back to his non-compromising style with BADLAPUR. There's a clear stamp of his wicked humour, objective, no frills-attached take on human relationships and absolutely no compromise on how he wants to tell the story. Sriram is back with vengeance. Quite literally!
On the whole, BADLAPUR offers you cinematic excellence with a rider that there's violence and gore, which may not be everyone's cup of bitter coffee. You shall be treated to truly unforgettable performances by Nawazuddin and Varun Dhawan. It is a film that will find patrons amidst the multiplex crowd. And yes, it is a film that will continue to live-on in the minds of cinema lovers for a long time to come.