'Bholaa' movie review: Well-crafted action set pieces in the garb of a narrative
Although Bholaa has some cleverly crafted set pieces, at times it feels like a video game jumping from a boss fight to a boss fight, without any cutscenes.
Published: 31st March 2023 08:41 AM | Last Updated: 31st March 2023 08:41 AM | A+A A-
Bholaa is a crazy film. No, that’s not it. Bholaa is a bats*** crazy film. Nada. Bholaa has two Sikhs, in a jungle, in the middle of the night, doing wheelies on tractors as they try to rein in a truck. That’s more like it. Now, I am all for going berserk.
Action sequences don’t necessarily have to be plausible. Gun down a chopper; eject from a car falling off a cliff while you grab your lover mid-air and superhero-land without even a hairline fracture; or unleash some feral animals at a British high official’s party. I am game. But an action scene in a film is the payoff, not the narrative. Although Bholaa has some cleverly crafted set pieces, at times it feels like a video game jumping from a boss fight to a boss fight, without any cutscenes.
A remake of the 2019 Lokesh Kanagaraj film Kaithi, Bholaa takes the logline from the Tamil original. In the course of one night, a recently-released convict, teams up with an injured cop to transport a shipment of drugged-out policemen in a truck, while there is a bounty on them.
Parallelly, there is a deranged gangster Ashwattama (Deepak Dobriyal) trying to enter (or demolish) a police station and retrieve his drug overhaul. Now, Bholaa takes some creative liberties. The film opens with a chase sequence during the day, and we get a deservedly heroic introduction of Tabu as IPS Diana Joseph.
It is a bang-on start but leaves no scope for any build-up. Bholaa has an incessant urge to give instant gratification to its viewers. Its dialogue resorts to rhyme to seek attention (‘Ye vardi ki jo hanak dikha rahe hain nikaalte hain inki sanak’, ‘Rakt ke bhakt hain hum’), its action comes like a barrage of bullets, balancing somewhere between being mindless and meticulous and its emotional foundation constantly trembles.
Coming back to heroic introductions, Bholaa has a certain affinity for verbosity. We meet the titular character in jail while he is reading the Bhagavad Gita. As he exits the prison, a prisoner (Makarand Deshpande), as if on cue, starts giving a voiceover. “The less you know about him, the better…those who did, didn’t survive… he is like the sea, calm on the surface but holding storms inside him…” I guess we know more than enough. In Kaithi, Karthi’s Dilli has a subtler, more enigmatic introduction in which he sits in a police car, just another guy, picked up because he seemed suspicious. While Kaithi constantly lets the story settle before shaking things up, Bholaa is too impatient. It will throw everything at the audience to elicit a response.
Although initially enjoyable, the action becomes almost lunatic as the film proceeds. There is a masked biker gang that looks like it was probably on its way to a talent show, there is a CGIed leopard (which, sadly, runs away), a kachcha gang uncharacteristically beefed up, and many moustached men battle-crying with bazookas atop jeeps. Once you know Bholaa is invincible (and if you don’t yet, Makarand Deshpande will remind you) there is no sense of threat left in the action. The film, however, needs to be applauded for not shying away from the gore. There are close-ups of bones breaking, teeth flying after a slap, and a man’s chest being pierced by a fist. It’s something novel for a Hindi film but that’s it.
Bholaa can’t stand any lulls in the narrative, lest you spot its flaws. Kaithi, in its heart, was a story of a father meeting his daughter for the first time. Bholaa weaves its emotional bits around its action and not in its centre. Ajay seems stony in showing sentiment. The scenes involving his daughter fail to provide fuel for the action that ensues. In the approach of being broody, he ends up being one-note. By the time Bholaa has sliced goons with a trident, broken innumerable necks and tattered them with a gatling gun, I am thinking the title Rudra would have been better suited for the film. Oh well.
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Deepak Dobriyal, Sanjay Mishra, Gajraj Rao, Vineet Kumar
Directed by: Ajay Devgn