Bhediya Review: Something new and a lot of fun
Bhediya offers something fresh in the horror-comedy subgenre.
Director: Amar Kaushik
Writer: Niren Bhatt
Cast: Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon, Abhishek Banerjee, Deepak Dobriyal, Paalin Kabak.
For starters, Bhediya offers something fresh in the horror-comedy subgenre. The setting here is Arunachal Pradesh. The hero here is Bhaskar (Varun Dhawan), a civil contractor who comes to the region for a road-building project. The road is supposed to go through the heart of the forest. A big portion of the forest will be destroyed and the tribals will lose their land. This is a man versus nature conflict. Humans are the biggest predators on planet earth and the current state of the health of the planet is a result of that.
So, when the man here is corrupting and manipulating his fellow men who emerges as the savior of nature? Bhediya. A wolf. The wolf attacks Bhaskar and takes a sizeable bite of his bum. As a result of which Bhaskar turns into a wolf every night. His mannerisms, temperament, and sensitivity to senses change. This hero has two sidekicks: a cousin Janardan (Abhishek Banerjee) and a local friend Jomin (Paalin Kabak). Kriti Sanon plays a veterinarian Dr. Anika. This bunch knows that Bhaskar has been bitten by the wolf but they should not reveal it to the villagers or forest officers because it would add to their troubles. There’s also Deepak Dobriyal as Panda, a guy from Uttarakhand who has settled in Arunachal Pradesh and is pro-nature.
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Whether it is rabies or something else is not clear. The characters in the film speculate that it could be one of many things. If you don’t want to dig deeper into this condition and just move on with the film, it’s totally fine. Because it is in a way a fantasy picture. A man turning into a wolf. You suspend your disbelief then and there only. That’s the way to enjoy this comic caper.
The screenplay is simplistic and moves at an easy pace. The dialogue is quirky for the most part but while trying to deliver a punch line one after the other, it appears more crafted than organic. Abhishek Banerjee gets most of these quirky punchlines. The newcomer Paalin Kabak is fun to watch as Jomin. Deepak Dobriyal does his best with a slightly underwritten part. Kriti Sanon has a small but surprising role in the film. I guess Kriti will have a bigger role in the horror-comedy universe that makers Dinesh Vijan and Amar Kaushik are planning with Stree, Bhediya, and a proposed Vampire flick with Ayushmann Khurrana.
It was good to see Varun Dhawan in a toned-down version of himself. He has his innocence still intact. And it shows the most in two sequences where he walks home after his antics as a wolf at night, with the nostalgic melody of “Chaddi pehen ke phool khila hai”. Varun portrays the animal with equal control without making it look like a ‘performance’. There’s a cameo appearance by Himesh Reshammiya also. That cameo is best watched (or heard) than described. The auditorium went bonkers over it.
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Amar Kaushik shows great progress in film aesthetics and narrative style compared to his previous two films Stree and Bala. Stree was written by two solid writers Raj & DK. Whereas a shoddily written Bala got lucky with Ayushmann’s performance. In Bhediya, Amar shows great clarity in his vision. Music by Sachin-Jigar is soothing like the sounds of the northeast. I hope more music from the northeast is used in mainstream Hindi cinema which is using the crutches of remixes for a long time.
I enjoyed Bhediya but watching a film made on man versus nature conflict while sitting at a posh auditorium in a big city made me ponder a few things. Most of Bhediya is shot in real locations. But CGI is also used to create some dreamy sequences involving nature. I wonder if humans had not encroached on nature would we have to see nature through a CGI recreation? Watching a film on man versus nature in a big mall where the most important natural resource i.e., water is wasted the most. Are we paying attention to this paradox? Of course, cinema can’t change the world. But are the filmmakers, not just of this flick, but of all those who make films on nature, mindful about not causing danger to the environment during the making and promotional activities of their films? Of course, this is a topic for another conversation, but I couldn’t help but think of it.