Bhuj The Pride of India
Director: Abhishek Dudhaiya
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha, Ammy Virk, Sharad Kelkar, Nora Fatehi
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar
Bhuj The Pride of India is one of those films which were made for a theatrical release but had to be released on an OTT platform because of the covid pandemic. So, you can overlook the usual elements used for theatrical releases – the songs, larger-than-life sequences, and since it’s a ‘war film’ a generous use of dialoguebaazi. I watched Bhuj after a supremely understated biopic Shershaah. But I’ll resist comparing the two films.
Let’s go solely by what director Abhishek Dudhaiya’s Bhuj The Pride of India has to offer. This is largely a work of visual effects. The VFX work is done by NY VFXWALA, a company partnered by Ajay Devgn who’s also the co-producer of this film. This company has produced some really good VFX in recent times. But there’s still a long way to go. I suspect the problem is not with technology available but the vision of the makers.
Recreating the events of 1971 war is a humongous task but the glossiness of the picture distances the viewer from the film. A touch of realism was missed throughout the film. Because of this chakachak production design and VFX, everything looks more choreographed than natural. The intention here is to create a spectacle, sure, and the makers do succeed for most part. But you watch it merely as a spectacle only, you don’t find a connection with any of the characters.
What the Indian airforce and the villagers, mainly 300 women achieved in 1971 is indeed remarkable. But what we get to see is not a war saga but a theme park movie. I won’t get into the slo-mo walks of Devgn or the beating of dhols amidst the war torned airbase. But there’s nothing much for any actor to do, or say. They’re just speaking lines given to them. The writing could have been much better – there are four writers credited. If you can overlook these loose ends, Bhuj The Pride of India is a decent one time watch.
A certain section of society and critics may call it a hyper nationalist propaganda film. But when two nations are at war, they’re driven only by nationalism. The idea of a country is what unites us, that’s our identity on the world map. Besides, what is war? Differences in ideologies make people go insane? Whether it’s political borders or WhatsApp groups. Old men create war and young men die. War is sad and painful. The only thing we can expect from war films is a humanistic take on the bravehearts who go through extreme physical and psychological exertion whether on or off duty.