If you found Amar Kaushik’s Stree one of the most intelligent and rib-tickling horror comedies, his latest outing, Bhediya, only takes things a notch higher. From good comedy and a novel concept to VFX, strong screenplay, Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon-starrer Bhediya gives ample moments to laugh and howl throughout. Also read: Janhvi Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao, Shahid Kapoor join Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon at Bhediya screening
The story begins with a road construction contractor Bhaskar (Varun Dhawan) going to Arunachal Pradesh wanting to make a highway through the dense forests of Ziro. He is accompanied by his cousin Janardhan aka JD (Abhishek Bannerjee) and is joined by a local Northeastern friend, Jomin (Paalin Kabak). As the trio starts their mission of convincing the tribals to give their land and allow road construction, they encounter strange incidents, the most important one being Bhasker getting bitten by a wolf. Soon, he acquires traits and characteristics of the creature and hereon, the folklore about shape-shifting wolf called ‘vishaanu’ picks up and the story gets more gripping and interesting.
Varun Dhawan is in top form and owns each frame. He has literally pushed the envelope, tried a new genre, and looked so convincing in it. His transformation scenes from a man to a wolf are stunning and scary at the same time with his ripped muscles and sculpted body giving you the chills. He excels in both comic as well as serious scenes. Kriti Sanon is decent and delivers a fine performance, however, her character, I felt, could have had more depth and better placement in the narrative. But in whatever screen time she gets, you enjoy her on screen. Abhishek Bannerjee is magical and hilarious with his comic timing and never misses the bus. His Hindi dialect and the way he delivers his lines (well, he does get the best lines) leaves you in splits. Debutant Paalin Kabak as Varun’s Northeastern friend Jomin is quite refreshing and his camaraderie with both Varun and Abhishek is on-point. Deepak Dobriyal as Panda is good, especially with the way he has picked up Northeastern accent and their body language.
While the first half is just about average besides the comedy, it’s the second half where all the action lies. Even there, the pace gets a little slow in between with some scenes looking needlessly dragged and stretched, but then Varun’s scenes as a wolf and Abhishek’s comedy keeps you cracking up for most of the time.
Kaushik once again creates an immersive experience with his direction and brings the best out of his actors. He understands the tricks of blending the two genres – horror and comedy – which is a big challenge, but he aces it. Dialogues are intense, meaningful yet supremely funny. Niren Bhatt’s story and clever writing get full marks for a great build-up, the big reveal, and a rather funny climax, which leaves you asking for more. Inserting mention of films such as Jaani Dushman, where Amrish Puri turns into a deadly monster or Junoon where Rahul Roy turns into a tiger, brings a great recall value. There’s even the popular Shehnaaz Gill dialogue – ‘Kya karu main, marr jaun? Meri koi feelings nahi hai?’ which was received with loud cheers and laughter. There are some cringeworthy lines, which I felt could have been done away with and particularly the toilet humour and that one entire sequence can put you off.
Jishnu Bhattacharjee’s cinematography gets a special mention here for the way he has captured the deep and dense Ziro forests of Arunachal Pradesh. Bhediya carries a visual appeal that does full justice to the beauty of Northeast India and its landscapes. A sequence where Kriti takes Varun inside the forests to explore its natural beauty is breath-taking and so beautifully shot. The VFX and special effects are stunning and on par with some of the best ones seen in Indian cinema.
The way Bhediya delivers an important message of man-animal conflict without getting preachy even for a bit, impressed me the most. Not just that, there’s a very clever mention and discussion around stereotyping of people from the Northeast as ‘Chinese’ and ‘outsiders’, which fits so organically in the story and makes you think. There’s a scene where Jomin calls out people for generalising all Northeast people as ‘Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee ka bachha’, expecting them to know Kung-Fu. He makes a strong point when he says, ‘being weak at speaking Hindi doesn’t make me any less of an Indian’. And in these seemingly intense scenes also, the aptly placed humour just lightens up the mood.
Sachin-Jigar’s music is decent, but not all songs leave a mark. Jungle Mein Kaand makes you groove for its peppy music, Baaki Sab Theek is interesting with the quirky rap. Background score is extremely on-point and creates an impact in the jump-scare moments.
Bhediya packs a punch with a lot of impressive elements and is worth watching on the big screen experience for the experience it creates and the messages it gives. Of course, some fine performances and hilarious dialogues would make for a memorable watch.
Director: Amar Kaushik
Cast: Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon, Abhishek Bannerjee, Deepak Dobriyal, Paalin Kabak
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