Amar Kaushik’s Bhediya could just be a surprise hit. With this creature film, Amar has kept an impressive balance between horror, thriller, and humour all in one go. Not to forget, this could well be one of Varun Dhawan’s best performance. Bhediya could also set an example of concentrating more on engaging narrative and not falling prey to highlighting the hero as in case of most Hindi films.
Plot: The story begins with Bhaskar (Varun Dhawan) getting a road development contract to build a highway through the dense jungles of Ziro in Arunachal. He takes his cousin Guddu (Abhishek Banerjee), preparing for IAS exams, for company. The duo is later joined by their friend Jomin (Paalin Kabak), a localite. The trio is introduced to Raju Mishra (Deepak Dobriyal) their local mediator/guide. They soon get cracking on talking to the local people about the road development scheme but are also informed about the challenges that their project could face. On their way they meet with an accident, Bhaskar is attacked and bitten by a wolf. From here on the story takes a horrifying turn. The moot point comes to fore, is the folklore about a werewolf coming true or is it just a figment of someone’s imagination?
Evaluation: As mentioned earlier, there is a neat balance between horror, thriller, and humour; thankfully romance, song and dance routines kept at bay. It goes on to show the director Amar Kaushik’s firm grip on storytelling and cinematic treatment. It affirms his skill in the genre like his earlier outing ‘Stree’ falling in the same category. Kaushik strikes a fine balance to deliver Bhediya that is spine chilling and rib-tickling at the same time. Not just entertainment and thrill but Bhediya also offers fodder to the audience to think about the rampant deforestation damaging the environmental lungs and the parity issues that the people of Northeast India face (earlier echoed in Anubhav Sinha’s Anek), to think about. While Bhediya intentionally focuses on forest conservation and man-animal conflict, it briefly touches upon the stereotyping of the people of Northeast, and how they often live with the ‘outsider’ label. The first half is extremely gripping, setting the tone for what’s in store and brings in a sense of intrigue. The post interval half could have been tighter, but still fine.
Visuals: The most differentiating thing about Bhediya is the presentation of the story in the most believable way making optimum use of technology with the director’s visualisation. Cinematographer (Jishnu Bhattacharjee) has succeeded in creating the dark and enigmatic world of werewolves with the backdrop of the green hilly terrain, the jungles of Ziro and mountains, for one the VFX are commendable. The other important factor being the creation of creatures in such films, which often turn out to be ‘spoofy than spooky’, thanks to the of cheapjack makeup and effects. But not in Amar Kaushik’s Bhediya. The character’s transformation from human to werewolf is convincing and terrifying at the same time. The scenes with the animals in the wilderness are captured / created with utmost beauty & finesse and matches international standards.
Why 3D: With so much of effort put in creating the environment, it only adds to the thrill of experiencing the same in 3D with ample jump-scares coupled with effective background score that make the goings on scarier. The medium helps the viewer transport effortlessly into the director’s world.
Varun Dhawan: This should be termed as Varun Dhawan’s best performance till date along with his neo-noir action thriller ‘Badlapur’. Surprisingly, Varun who is positioned more to be a comedy hero seems to be more comfortable in dark and serious roles. Varun has got into the skin (literally) of the director’s vision as the shape-shifting ferocious wolf as effortlessly as the subtle comedy ones. This performance, much of which happens to be his physical transformation with animal spine, ripping muscles and a perfectly sculpted body should accelerate his career. Whether it’s the dramatic and high-energy scene where he transforms into a bhediya, to the hilarious, almost nude scenes, he excels. Varun gives it his all, and it shows.
Abhishek Banerjee, Paalin Kabak and Deepak Dobriyal: These three actors make an equal impact in the narrative so much so that they happen to be as important in binding the story into a plot. Abhishek Banerjee steals the show with his mannerisms and the funniest lines in the film. Abhishek is bang on, a perfect example of situational comedy from a fine actor. In the intense scenes too, his punches add a certain lightness to the narrative that mostly unfolds in the darkness of the wilderness. Paalin, though gets limited scope but performs to get the desired impact. A scene about the Northeast India makes a huge impact with his character pleading ‘not being a Chinese’ and not being a ‘lesser Indian’ for their poor Hindi diction. Deepak Dobriyal goes on to strike that right balance of being a subtle character with grey shades.
Kriti Sanon: Kriti’s character of a veterinarian could be one of the most important ones from the story standpoint but is more of an extended cameo types with limited screen time, showcasing the director’s craft over the optimum use of resources to get the much-needed impact for such a story.
Music: The music of the film is composed by Sachin-Jigar while the lyrics are written by Amitabh Bhattacharya. The first song is the jovial road-trip friends’ song ‘Baaki Sab Theek’ rendered by Sachin Sanghvi, Jigar Saraiya & Amitabh Bhattacharya. The ‘Jungle Mein Kaand’, sung by Vishal Dadlani, Sukhwinder Singh, Siddharth Basrur, Sachin-Jigar is an okay song and acts just as a filler.
Overall, the film reminds us of the ‘Bhediya’ in all of us that we exert for our selfish motives and benefits without considering the damage that we are doing. The film leaves you with an experience and a thought to ponder upon, maybe deeper than the forests of Ziro. Waste no time, this one is a must watch.
Director: Amar Kaushik
Cast: Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon, Abhishek Banerjee, Paalin Kabak, Deepak Dobriyal, Sharad Kelkar
Duration: 156 Mins