Starring: Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon, Abhishek Banerjee, Paalin Kabak, Deepak Dobriyal
Director: Amar Kaushik
A lurking wolf ready to prowl, a mysterious village with a backdrop of a lush and enigmatic forest in Arunachal Pradesh, few urban visitors and a human turning into a werewolf – ‘Bhediya’ has all the ingedients for a gripping horror movie. However, Director Amar Kaushik specialises in the mixed genre of ‘horror-comedy’. And he has not strayed from his chosen genre in this latest outing.
Whether this latest Bollywood horror-comedy fad is for everyone is a different matter. But those who have enjoyed watching similar films by Kaushik earlier, like ‘Stree’ and ‘Roohi’, will not be disappointed with ‘Bhediya’. For, ‘Bhediya’ certainly packs a punch with the right dose of comedy, a tiny bit of horror, captivating storytelling, and a scenic backdrop.
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Without digressing further or divulging any spoiler, ‘Bhediya’ is a story of a construction worker Bhaskar (Varun Dhawan), who visits a small hamlet of Arunachal intending to build a road across a deep, dark forest and usher in the light of civilisation into the wild nature. Bhaskar and his friend Janardan aka Janna (Abhishek Banerjee), along with their local collaborator Jomin aka Joe (Paalin Kabak), meet a local Mr Panda (Deepak Dobriyal) who believes building a road amidst the forest will hamper nature and tribal lives. As the story progresses, comedy ensues, and also the plot thickens.
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One night while Bhaskar, Janna and Joe are travelling, their car breaks in the jungle where Bhaskar gets bitten by a Wolf, funnily enough, on his butt. More weirdly, Joe takes him to a local Vet Anika (Kriti Sanon), instead of a hospital. After this incident, Bhaskar gradually starts showing signs of transformation into a werewolf.
The storyline, at this point, ventures a little deeper into the moral conundrum of man vs wild while simultaneously maintaining its promise of never being boring or serious. Apart from this timely topic of saving the environment, the film also cleverly deals with social evils like racism against the people of northeast India without letting it get preachy.
Dhawan excels in his role of muscle flexing, shape-shifting persona and with his effortless comic timings. The actors playing minor characters also do well in terms of bringing humour into every scene. Sanon was given a relatively small role to play, although an important one.
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The real hero of this film, however, is the scriptwriter Nitin Bhatt. He suavely blends in slapstick comedy with smart wit. His narrative smartly evokes our 90s nostalgia for the title track of Jungle Book (Hindi), Rahul Roy’s scariest portrayal of a werewolf in ‘Junoon’ and even Himesh Reshammiya’s ‘Tera Suroor’ in the funniest ways possible.
However, the repetitive use of scatological jokes literally started to stink after a while, and equally tiring was the climax of the film, which failed to retain the gritty narrative style of the first part of the film.