The revenge formula in Hindi cinema really is a tale as old as time so it is a good thing Badlapur has an alternative take on the theme that anyone who grew up on 80’s and 90’s classics (*puts hand up*) will know inside out. And for the most part, the dry and sly feel of the film works – there is dark humour that makes us chuckle, violence and sex to shock us and a general sense of unpredictability in this strange world where there is no black or white but every shade of grey (sorry, had to mention it somewhere!).
My main gripe with Badlapur was the second half which felt flabby and could have done with some trimming and reworking – especially in the build up to the ending which I liked but would have far more impact had it come sooner in the story. I also felt the script needed to do more to distance itself from backing Raghu; whilst at times we are encouraged to condemn some of his actions (the rape of Shabnam), there is an uncomfortable feeling that his treatment of Koko and Shoba is somehow acceptable because he is grieving. Perhaps there is more author backed disapproval which becomes apparent on repeat viewings.
Dhawan gives a career best performance here – he certainly is not afraid to embrace Raghu’s darker side and deserves credit for pushing himself out of his comfort zone. Pathak gives a good account of himself as do Qureshi, Dutta and Apte – the roles are brief but well etched and well enacted. But no surprise, it is Siddiqui who steals the show here with his trademark understated brilliance – he gives Liaq many dimensions and plays the character with an admirable neutrality.
Overall, I really enjoyed Badlapur and liked the ambition the film had, which was to look at something that felt so familiar with a distinct sensibility. Whether it was the long takes, the absence of backing tracks in many scenes or just the way the film converses with the viewer, Badlapur makes the revenge drama of yore relevant and interesting to a modern audience with style and conviction. The first must see Hindi film of 2015.