‘Bhediya’ review: Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon’s latest is a winner because of its unique story

Bollywood has truly come a long way. From stereotyping actors from north-east India in caricature roles and calling them ‘chinki'(slang for Chinese) to now having them play pivotal characters in films, the transition has been truly heartening. In the second half of Amar Kaushik’s latest ‘Bhediya’, Jobin (Paalin Kabak) has an outburst about how tired he is of the generalisation. ‘Poora North East Shaolin Temple Hai tumhare kiye’ Whol of North East is a Shaolin temple. The moment is poignant as it very accurately calls out the rest of India and its mindset about the north-east.

The character is shown to be ferociously Indian and pro-progress. That’s why he agrees to help Bhaskar(Varun Dhawan) a road contractor to build a highway in Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh and convince the locals to allow private contractors to construct the road by cutting down a portion of the forest. The locals resist and the young generation much like Jobin wants to be connected to the rest of the country and not live in isolation anymore.

The means are, of course, illegal and so when one night Bhaskar is bitten by a wolf inside the jungle, Jobin and Bhaskar’s cousin Janardan (Abhishek Banerjee) take him to Dr Anika (Kriti Sanon) a vet to avoid questioning from the authorities. Trouble starts when Bhaskar’s wound miraculously heals the next day and he starts behaving strangely. The trip falls into further trouble when slowly one by one local contractor start getting killed. While most cases seem to be animal attacks, local word spread that it’s the work of a Vishanoo (Warewolf) and suspicions are the trio.

Writer Niren Bhatt weaves an intricate story that merges fantasy and current scenarios beautifully. The west for years has used the concept of the werewolf in their stories and films, but it’s a rather new concept for the Indian audience. Of course, it expects a certain suspension of disbelief but the brilliant writing coupled with catchy dialogues helps to drive home relevant points on deforestation, climate change and stereotyping the northeast. The film never gets preachy, in fact, on the contrary it drives home a point effectively through humour

The film’s dialogues are the heart and soul of the film. Massive pop culture references and witty one-liners keep the audience hooked.

Dhawan, clearly out of his comfort zone delivers a fine performance. Kriti Sanon has limited screen time but holds her own even though her hair piece looks slightly unnecessary. The film has Abhishek Banerjee delivering a superb performance. Banerjee had by now mastered the art of playing the best friend to the hero so this one seems a cake walk but it’s his comic timing that stands out and makes the film truly entertaining.

While the narrative is enjoyable throughout, it does appear slightly stretched especially during the climax which refuses to conclude. I wish the film was shorter by 20 minutes for maximum effect

VFX of the film is very important and it’s done very well. The scene where Dhawan’s character shapeshifts into a wolf is well executed and ups the excitement. 

‘Bhediya’ wins for its message and for its ability to speak about pertinent issues but in the garb of humour.

Amar Kaushik had made an impressive debut with ‘Stree’ which talked of the ills of witchcraft, his second film ‘Bala’ too highlighted the shallow standards of beauty. With ‘Bhediya’ he asserts that he knows how to make good cinema which is entertaining as well as relevant. Watch out for the interesting cameos towards the end. I never knew that I was so invested in an Amar Kaushik universe but here I am hoping for the maker to make a sequel of two of his films soon. ‘Bhediya’ releases in theatres this Friday.