(SPOILERS ALERT—if you plan on watching this movie, don’t read this review!)

Every once in a while comes a Bollywood movie that takes you by surprise. You don’t know much about it, you don’t hear much about it and you go watch it with zero expectations and come out feeling like you’ve seen something so solid and strong making your trip to the cinema worthwhile.

The director of Badlapur had encouraged his audiences to NOT miss the first 15 minutes of the movie. (Just like Hitchcock asked his audience to not miss the beginning of Psycho!) The premise is simple: Revenge. It may be compared to the similarly themed movie Ek Villain released last year (staring Varun Dhawan contemporary Siddharth Malhotra), but that’s where the comparison stops.

The movie starts of with an African proverb: The axe forgets, the tree remembers.

Raghav (Dhawan) plays an adman who finds out at a meeting that his wife and son were killed in a bank robbery (which is why you should not miss the beginning of the movie!). He is filled with anger and vengeance and seeks to avenge their deaths. One of the culprit , Liak, is nabbed and sent to jail while his partner manages to escape. Raghav moves to another city, Badlapur, to start afresh.

Flash forward 15 years, where we find out Liak has cancer and can be released from jail if Raghav pardons him. Thus begins the journey through Raghav’s mind as he schemes and plots his revenge.

Badlapur is that movie where the tables are turned over and has characters with more than 50 shades of grey. One character says in the movie “bad people can change when they spend time in jail.” There is no right or wrong, leading to the central pivotal point of the movie: even good guys can become raging violent maniacs, and bad guys can redeem themselves and become good.

I have to give credit to Varun Dhawan and Nawazuddin Siddiqi for playing such complex characters with such ease—it was a delight to watch these two—though I preferred the sheer genius acting of Siddiqi a lot more. Some viewers may object to the misogynistic treatment of women in the movie (they are used for sex, beaten around etc) but two female characters, Jhimli (impressive Huma Qureshi) and villain’s wife Koko stand out in their own right.

This is a psychological movie with a lot of character study. It’s important to notice how these people behave, what they say, how they react and I felt like as if I were in their situation, I would do the same. Check out the scene:

-Where Raghav discloses to the prostitute who he really is and how her reaction changes.
– Where Raghav’s wife tells him she is pregnant (he jumps up and screams “I”ve done it” in what may seem absurd but a very natural reaction).
-Where Liak and his mother have a heart to heart to talk about what the mother thinks of him (and his father)

The beginning is a must watch, claims the director, but I say it’s the ending that’s a must watch as few clever twists are revealed leaving you in severe doubt about a few characters. One of the best line is uttered at the end of a movie from a very unlikely character– “you are given a second chance. So make use of it.” While everyone else is caught in their own lives and worlds, one of them gets a chance to break free and lead a new life.

Technical aspects were top notch and the music was used effectively, especially the song Jeena Jeena (by our very own Atif Aslam) in probably the most romantic scene of the movie.

For me, it’s a 4 out 5.

Solid, strong, well paced with an ending that will leave you questioning your morals and judgment of who people are and can be.

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