‘Badla’ – the word in the Hindi language has two different meanings – ‘Change’ and ‘Revenge.’ Badlapur is also a town in Thane district of Maharashtra, which forms the fulcrum of conflicts and complications in the unique story – Badlapur (2015).
Varun Dhawan (Raghu), gives his best performance yet. Breaking away from the college boy cliche’, he shows us his true capacity. The story starts with the bank robbery by Laik (Nawazuddin, who plays the cunning antagonist in a stalwart performance) and Harman (Vinay Pathak in a convincing performance) that leads to kidnapping and murder of Raghu’s wife and his only son. Harman flees away with the cash while Laik gets caught by the police. This slingshots the movie into a revenge saga. Raghu is hellbent on avenging the death of his wife and son.
The film does away from the usual and believes in hurting your opponent where it hurts most. Raghu tortures Laik to reveal his partner’s name by approaching Laik’s muse Jhimli (a sensuous Huma Qureshi), a prostitute and exploiting her. With Laik sentenced to 20 years and firm on not telling his partner’s name, Raghu moves away from his home to run away from old memories and holes himself to a town called Badlapur.
Time flies. Laik develops stomach cancer while he is still in jail. Shobha, the social activist (played by Divya Dutta) asks Raghu to sign his mercy plea so that Laik can live the rest of his life in peace. Raghu meets Laik and asks him his partner’s name. When Laik doesn’t give in, Raghu does not agree to the mercy plea. In distress, Laik’s mother approaches Raghu in Badlapur to reveal the name of Laik’s partner. As promised, Raghu agrees to commute Laik’s sentence.
The story by Massimo Carlotto is based on an old African proverb as the premise – ‘The axe forgets but the tree remembers’. Even after all these years, Raghu has not forgotten the wound inflicted upon him by Laik and Harman.
Raghu reaches Harman and his wife Koko (played credibly by Radhika Apte), befriends them and then kills them. His methods leading up the revenge and the revenge itself are the signature of director Sriram Raghavan.
‘Badlapur’ is a story that weighs the protagonist and antagonist on an equal scale. Laik reaches Badlapur to meet Raghu and ask him about Harman’s whereabouts and the money. When both of them meet at ‘Badlapur’, the story jolts into towards the climax. Raghu describes to Laik how he has killed Harman and lets go of Laik as he is already dying a slow death. He refuses to give Laik the whereabouts of the loot from the bank.
Meanwhile, the police officer investigating the old bank robbery case is at a closure point. He blackmails Raghu to give him the money to let him off. Raghu disagrees. Laik tells his mother to remember him as a kind man, and he reaches the police station. Laik confesses to Harman’s and Koko’s murder and describes every detail of the killing and where he has buried the corpses.
In the end, the antagonist sacrifices himself and gives a new lease of life to Raghu, the protagonist. Their meeting in Badlapur marks the focal point of the movie where both of them have undergone a change.
‘Badlapur’ marks yet another installment of Sriram Raghavan’s cult movies after ‘Ek Hasina Thi’ and ‘Johnny Gaddar’. The screenwriting is full of punching wisecracks – the best one coming from the call girl, whom Liak visits when he is back from serving 15 years. After a passable ‘Agent Vinod’, Raghavan is back with his ‘Tarantino’ style of movie making filled with intense situations where mostly words are louder than actions.
This review is also published on IMDb