So, I saw the trailer and I knew I had to go see Bhavesh. And then I forgot about it. Till I met a friend who writes films (one feature under his belt, second underway) and he told me how Phantom is struggling with Bhavesh Joshi and its been stuck for 4 years and so on and so forth. No, I don’t know any more gossip and all that but they were struggling for sure.
So when yesterday a friend and I were deciding to go see VDW, somehow we realised that Bhavesh is also releasing the same day. And I tricked her into booking Bhavesh. Yay!
But then, the yay was short-lived.
It lasted till the interval during Bhavesh – that’s when the movie starts going downhill. Like Joker says, everyone is on the edge and all they need is a push. Bhavesh was teetering on the edge and dint even need the push. It just needed a whiff of air. And there was a fucking hailstorm blowing in Bhavesh’s face. A hailstorm made of poor story, lacklustre plot, ordinary acting and other pieces of mediocrity that you don’t typically expect from Phantom. I guess everyone has their ups and downs!
What the F! Its an Anurag Kashyap Vikramaditya Motwane film for fuck sake!
Wait. Stay with me. I’ll come back to it.
For the time being, here’s a one-line summary of the film, or the logline, as they call it in the industry. Bhavesh Joshi is a common-man turned vigilante that takes on the might of the politician-businessmen nexus hellbent on fucking with the city to make money.
I were a film producer and this logline was narrated to me, the first reaction would have been, “what an awe-fuckin-some idea!”. And then I would be shrouded in a heady mix of fear, awe and excitement.
Fear – has something like this ever been attempted in India?
No, not Krissh. It’s lame at another level that doesn’t even merit another word on this blog. Or on the whole of Internet. Not even in the history books that are often written at the behest of celebrities. Wait Mr. Garg. This is not about Krissh.
Can I make a film that is so simple and yet so complex? Am I evolved enough to handle? I would be afraid. Really.
Awe – what all can I do with it?
To the film maker in me, the logline makes me gasp at the tremendous opportunities that I can explore with the plot. I’d be awed by the shades of characters that I can create. It inspires awe by allowing me to explore dark themes that most other movies don’t allow me to.
Excitement – can I bring it alive?
Fear and bravado often gives way to daring. And that is where excitement is. Remember that excitement that Red talks about? In case you’ve lived under a rock, he says, “I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.”
I feel a similar excitement when I think about this logline, this plot! Can’t you feel it? The fear, the awe, the excitement?
Oh, and once these emotions have gone past me, I would let go of the opportunity to make this film. Really. Why? Because I wont have the balls to produce it!
No really. I wont. Its a very risky idea. Unless I have a lot of money that I can throw around, lose and not lose my sleep over it. Its not even a venture where I see a potential of a 10x return!
But if all producers were like me, no ambitious projects will ever get made! I love people like Phantom for exactly the same reason. Truth be told, the only reason I saw this was because only a Phantom could’ve dared to make a movie like this. Or may be Drishyam. These are the only two sets of people that try new things. Or like Apple said in one of their ads, “push the human race forward!”
Where I said no, they decided to back this up. They found the money. And the balls. And they jumped in.
And I thank them for that. For unless I had seen what Bhavesh is, I wouldn’t know what Bhavesh could be. As a writer, there are a million lessons in what not to do while working on a film (more on this later).
So, after all that ado for nothing, the movie, in one word is disappointing!
There is so so so (repetition on purpose) much potential in the movie that it could’ve been a legit competition to the likes of Batman. Just that it fails to go anywhere. Lemme make a list.
A. For starters, the movies lack a credible and powerful villain.
The thing with Superheroes is that while they are awesome and do great things and all that, they need a villain (or an anti-hero) to be able to showcase their might, their strength and even their vulnerability.
I mean can you imagine a Batman without a Joker? Or a Sherlock for that matter without a Moriarty? There is no one that makes Bhavesh Joshi what he eventually becomes. Agree that he fights against a system, a set of people and all that. But is he up against a league A villain? No!
There is no challenge. There is just systematic pressure. There is no personality, no individual, no anti-hero that makes Bhavesh get out from the bed. I mean why does Bhavesh exist? He wants to do good. Ok. Who doesn’t? Ramu Kaka, the security guard from my building wants to do good and is willing to risk whatever when he feels that he’s been wronged!
B. Characters are not memorable.
There are times that you feel for the characters and their respective losses but the characters are not memorable at all. I saw the movie last night and even though it’s not been 24 hours since I can’t seem to remember one great thing that any of the characters said. Or did. Or stood for.
Ok, I agree that Bhavesh stood for something but then is that what I want to take away from a Superhero movie? No way man! Remember my Ramu Kaka? Bhavesh. That!
C. Too long.
The movie has at least 3 long scenes that do not add one bit to the story. I mean they were shot in typical Tarantino-meets-Slumdog cinematic style and had one or two fine moments. But…
But did they add to the story? No.
But did they establish Bhavesh? No.
But did they help make the villain more villainous? No.
No and no.
And more no.
Why did they put those shots? To make it dark? To give me that adrenaline rush? To ensure that the movie is 2 and a half hours long? Come on!
D. The post-interval snafu.
The movie was a great watch until the time interval happened.
From the very beginning, the story progresses at a snail’s pace but since they were still building the narrative, it was ok. I could understand. But once the conflict had reached the high point and I was hoping for a masterful resolution, the nudge from that edge, those winds start blowing. The movie, like I said already, goes downhill. So downhill that I am beginning to question the genius of Anurag Kashyap Motwane.
That’s about it from me.
Oh, the music by Amit Trivedi – Amitabh Bhattacharya duo is great as always. The background score could’ve been far better. The acting is ok – like I said, no character stands out. There aren’t any moments that you retain after you’ve watched the movie. You don’t even feel sorry for their loss. And neither do you feel any elation for their victory.
Bhavesh Joshi may be a Superhero that we need (in the Indian cinema) but we definitely deserve someone better than Bhavesh. Oh, I’d like to create one. Does anyone want to collaborate? I am @saurabh on twitter.
To end this longish review, I’d give Bhavesh Joshi 2 stars out of 5.
But please do see the film. It’s brave. It’s an interesting story that you often don’t get to see coming out of India. And the movie makes me hopeful that cinema in India will continue to do well. Oh, and Thank You, Anurag, Vikramaditya and others for Bhavesh Joshi. I will want to see more from you. And hopefully, soon.