Artistic expression is all about freedom but if freedom comes without any sort of responsibility, it can be very dangerous.
‘Bhuj: The Pride of India’ is set during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 when IAF Squadron Leader Vijay Karnik (Ajay Devgn), the then in-charge of the Bhuj airport, reconstructed the IAF airbase with the help of his team & 300 women from the local village Madhapar.
It starts with drama as Pakistan sets out to Kutch in order to occupy the Western part of India, specifically Bhuj. CGI planes, CGI clouds and CGI explosions wreak havoc, destruction and bloodshed leaving the Bhuj airbase completely in ruins & damaging a crucial strategic location for India as the “son” advances against “father.” Random? Don’t worry, this is me preparing you for a whole lot of random you will be offered in the film.
Yes it’s cinema and it’s supposed to be cinematic & dramatic but isn’t it supposed to be logical as well? Repairing and building a runway in flat 72 hours is in itself such an astonishing and inspirational feat that it does not require overtly added fiction. In fact the latter ruins this stupendous achievement & takes away the magic that it holds.
Sharad Kelkar who plays an officer in the military is introduced as a boxer who marries a “muslim apahij” girl and trust me, that wasn’t needed for the story at all. But the director and writer make sure you remember the favour he did marrying her because why not.
Sanjay Dutt plays Ranchordas Pagi, a man whose bravery in real life knew no bounds, but in the film instead of his bravery, focuses on things like the magical ability to distinguish between nationalities by looking at footprints in the sand. No I am not kidding but I surely wish I was.
Trust me, it gets worse.
There is also a spy, played by Nora Fatehi, who is married to a Pakistani official & relays information this side. And while she may have trained for her action sequences, perhaps more attention should have been given to her acting, or the lack of it.
As Devgn tries convincing the villagers, led by Sonakshi Sinha, to help the soldiers out, he decides to indulge in a lengthy rhyme and you cannot help but wonder how much of the runway could’ve been repaired in the time saved if he had just stuck to the point…
None of the characters are given strong storylines, even though the movie is 2 hours long, making you not care for them very much.
The film gets more chaotic by the minute. And while there can be symphonies in chaos and madness, ‘Bhuj: The Pride Of India’ sadly doesn’t fall into that category. The last quarter of the film is majorly explosions, war cries that wouldn’t actually work on the field and Sanjay Dutt making a jump that even Olympic athletes wouldn’t dare dream.
There is barely any screen time in the film that doesn’t have loud music, as if forcing you to feel excited and take pride. There is jingoism in almost every frame almost making Bhuj a very loud & tedious watch.
‘Bhuj: The Pride of India’, directed by Abhishek Dudhaiya, is now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.