Bawaal, directed by Nitesh Tiwari, is one movie that got stuck on an abstract level. The movie’s teaser really amused and confused the audience as we got glimpses of the second world war towards the end, and I must say that the underwhelming trailer kind of gave us an idea about what could possibly be in store for us. When it comes to the film, it feels like a peripheral exploration of a dysfunctional marriage, where one of the central characters acts like a man-child.
Ajay, aka Ajju Bhaiyya, is a history teacher married to Nisha. Ajay is highly cautious about his image, and everything he does in his hometown is to maintain that charmer persona. The fact that Nisha has epilepsy was a significant issue for Ajay as he feared it would affect his image. A particular disciplinary action against Ajay at the school leads to a situation where he decides to go on a Europe trip, and Nisha also joins him. We witness how that trip changes the troubled equation between the duo in Bawaal.
Initially slated for a theatrical release, the strategy change for Bawaal happened very surprisingly. But having seen the product, it kind of makes you wonder if they opted for the safe option to reduce the risk. On a scale level, it is a pretty ambitious project involving the fictional recreation of some gruesome historical events. But the problem is the lack of connection between the two layers of the movie. Ajju Bhaiyya, who had no sense of empathy towards his wife, whom he saw struggling with epilepsy on their wedding night, is drawn into tears and starts to imagine the trauma whenever he hears an audio guide or an actual guide narrating what happened during the second world war. The logic of equating misunderstandings in marriage with the holocaust looks bizarre on screen. And there is a Munnabhai-ish track back in India featuring actor Mukesh Tiwari, which was kind of predictable and cheesy.
Nitesh Tiwari starts the movie in that typical jovial mood with the caricature-like introduction of Ajju Bhai, and it made sense as our hero’s image-oriented way of living is something that needs to be teased. But the movie is oscillating between extreme grey and over-the-top humor tracks. The shifts in equations between the characters are happening so conveniently. Ajju, who is a totally unempathetic human being, transforms into this loving and understanding partner overnight. There is no solid enough reason for us to make us believe what made him change. Then the movie slips into that generic bonding sequence that leads to your typical night out in Europe scenario. Even after that, the film returns to World War 2 to make the couple rethink the solvable issues between them. Uri and Neerja fame Mitesh Mirchandani recreates the scale of the World War sequences quite convincingly through his cinematography.
Varun Dhawan’s way of playing this fakely macho Ajay mostly looks unintentionally funny. Well, the only way to justify the fragility of that character is his list of favorite films dominated by Govinda flicks. Jhanvi Kapoor, who isn’t doing anything substantially spectacular, looks much better due to the overdose of expressions from Varun Dhawan. Manoj Pahwa, Anjuman Saxena, Mukesh Tiwari, and Prateek Pachori are the other names in the cast.
A newly married couple with a troubled equation and on the verge of separation goes to Europe for a trip. And after realizing that in comparison to Ann Frank or the other thousands of people who died in concentration camps, they haven’t really lost much, the man realizes his mistakes, and the couple decides to continue the marriage. Instead of the regular headset they wore for the audio guide, if the makers can replace them with VR headsets, I think a little bit of damage control can be done to this film.
It feels like a peripheral exploration of a dysfunctional marriage, where one of the central characters acts like a man-child.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended