These are the issues that Badlapur talks about. It starts with a terrible crime. Raghu (Varun Dhawan) loses all in a robbery gone wrong. A robber (Nawaz) is arrested and jailed. How is out hero going to fulfill his vengeance now? The rest of the film dwells on that.
There was a horrid film called Ek Villain. It was inspired by a Korean film called I Saw The Devil. A superbly crafted creepy tale of revenge. Badlapur is close to that film. Not copied. Not at all. Just evoking the same eternal things about vengeance. You stop to notice what you are becoming.
Varun Dhavan is brave in choosing this film. Not just because he plays a problematic character but because this is a challenging role. He excels. It is easy to go from silent and brooding to wooden. Varun doesn’t.
But his is not a solitary performance. This film has excellent cast. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Huma Qureishi, Vinay Pathak, Divya Dutta, Pratima Kazmi, Yami Gautam, Radhika Apte… The acting talent there is immense. Even an unknown actor, playing a distraught mother looking at her dead daughter’s photos, was immensely effective.
Which brings us to the Sutradhar, the man behind the curtain Sriram Raghavan. He created two of the best Hindi thrillers of recent times: Ek Hasina Thi and Johnny Gaddar. This time he goes for the soul of characters. Dissecting at the good, the bad and their boundaries. This has the look of an atmospheric film, and what atmosphere. The setup is superbly etched, finely crafted, and very real. Living spaces of people look lived in, the jail is not at all like any jail you’ve seen in Indian films. But the focus, rightly, is on the people who inhabit these spaces.
The people are not divided between the good and the bad, but every heart is. The people in the film behave as humans would, and sometimes as humans shouldn’t. And thats what the film is about. What is owed to you when you are a victim? And what is do you owe when you are a perpetrator? What is an adequate revenge?
I started with questions, and I end with it. But the film maker is really clear. The film gives answers, which are not always comfortable. And I can give one answer unequivocally. This is 2015’s first great film.
PS: This was as much as I could write without spoiling the film. But if you have watched it, or if you don’t mind being spoiled, read below for an analysis of the conclusions this film draws.