Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Hindi film Bholaa which is now available in a theatre near you. And it joins the long list of adaptations that the Hindi film industry has been churning out lately. For those who are unaware, Bholaa is the official Hindi adaptation of the Tamil film Kaithi, a film that I had absolutely loved.
I had watched Kaithi during the first lockdown as I did begin my journey in discovering the works of Lokesh Kanagaraj. The thing to note about Kaithi was how a string of unrelated events were slowly brought together in a story which was essentially simplistic. The world building has always been a huge part of Lokesh Kanagaraj’s films and it was fascinating in Kaithi. To add to that an interesting mix of characters and Kaithi was suddenly the talk of the town! What was more was that Lokesh did follow up the film with Vikram which did tremendously well to expand the universe of Kaithi(or should I say the LKU).
Bholaa did have a huge task ahead of it but I was really interested in seeing what Ajay Devgn had in store here and how would he build on or create a universe of his own. In the recent interview, he had mentioned on how he would be opting for a different route should Bhola work. Bholaa though did have a mixed vibe to it. It definitely had me exciting when its first teaser was out with ‘Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai’ song playing as a haunting background song. But the vibe did die down a bit after its trailer was released. But I have always felt that Ajay Devgn the filmmaker is underrated and is always known to bring out technically superior products. So with hope and skepticism I ventured into Bholaa, does it manage to reach the peak of Kaithi…lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
An official adaptation of the original Tamil film Kaithi, Bholaa follows the story of an ex-convict who must take a perilous journey in order to meet his daughter. Now one thing baffling for me was that since the Hindi dub of Kaithi was already available, was Bholaa necessary? The answer is not straight forward here as the beats of Bholaa are the same as Kaithi. But this is not a frame to frame remake with the makers introducing a tinge of originality in the story that does make for a commendable watch. The screenplay standing at a 140 odd minutes does make for a decent watch where the focus is a lot more on the action sequences. But in doing so, the soul of the film goes missing in certain places.
The drama does open with a terrific chase sequence wherein the character of Tabu is introduced. Swapping the genders of the cop here is first of the many changes that Bholaa has to offer. The ability of Lokesh Kanagaraj to create a world with unrelated events was the highlight of Kaithi to begin with. But instead, here while placing the unrelated incidents together, the screenplay also does accomodate a raunchy item number which does nothing really to add anything new to the screenplay. The idea should have been in introducing the viewers to the characters through their actions that would have made for an even further compelling viewing. You also get a glimpse of Bholaa in between as opposed to revealing him to the audience in that truck sequence from the original.
The beats of the drama here are pretty much similar to Kaithi that does make for a gritty and compelling watch. The proceedings are fairly engrossing although the drama doesn’t quite have anything new to surprise the viewer in terms of its skeletal structure. But the drama does well in keeping the viewers engaged. I just had two points of criticism here – one is related to how simplistic the screenplay has been designed to be as opposed to the layered one of the original wherein you still are placing which thread is connected where. Also, the reading of the character of Bholaa is flawed turning him into a superhero of sorts. Dilli from Kaithi was vulnerable with the core emotion being that of a father yearning for his daughter. Her that emotion is superficial.
The first half is filled with multiple action sequences and some of which do work too. Some scenes though seem to be computer generated that do not leave the desired impact. But a few others result in an exhilarating ride! But it is the second half that slows things down with a bit of a back story of Bholaa that sucks the tension away from the drama. Remember Bholaa and his team are on the run and so even if a back story was required, it could have been in the form of flashes that the protagonist would get time and again. The best scenes of Bholaa are staged at the police station where there is the right amount of tension generated(with a couple of fresh twists and turns). And the reason for that was that the action was grounded. The final act here is abrupt and almost like a video game, a criticism that I did have with the original too. But the mid-credits scene is a good one ensuring that the universe would expand in a different direction. But overall, the screenplay is decently well penned and definitely has moments to cherish.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are solid and leave the desired impact. The music is fairly good with ‘Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai’ standing out while being played during a thrilling action sequence. The BGM is good but could have been better. The cinematography is straight out of an RGV film with closeup shots and weird angles but it does work in a weird manner. The action sequence featuring Bholaa with a trishul stands out and by a margin! The editing here is weak with so many jump cuts that the overall impact of the combat sequences is diluted. Director Ajay Devgn does a commendable job here reaffirming my faith in him as a filmmaker. The product is technically strong and makes for a compelling viewing despite its shortcomings with respect to the writing.
The performances are really good here. Arpit Ranka as Bhoora, Chetan Sharma as Chashmish, Priyank Tiwary as Shekhar, Deepali Gautam as Naina and Mukund Pal as Baingan all have their moments to shine. Tarun Gahlot as Raunak is well restrained and does a good job. Gajraj Rao as Devraj is absolutely wasted and I was disappointed that he was given a role that just wasn’t meaty. Vineet Kumar as Nithari is intimidating and does a swell job. Amir Khan as Kadchi is fabulous to watch and contributes well to the comedy in the drama. Sanjay Mishra is a legend and I say that because here as Constable Yadav he was able to hold my attention even when his character was a little underdeveloped. Since sincerity and earnestness was just fascinating to witness.
Deepak Dobriyal as Ashu is excellent and his antics showcase what a phenomenal actor he is. A tinge of evil humour in his performance is elevated by him, and brilliantly so. His was one of my favourite performances of the film. Tabu as IPS Diana has a magnificent screen presence and does an incredible job, excelling in a couple of emotional scenes too. Ajay Devgn as Bholaa is brilliant(despite the character flaw in the writing department) and the intensity that he brings to the table was wonderful to watch.
Despite its shortcomings, Bholaa is a stylized adaptation of Kaithi that can be watched once. Available in a theatre near you.