Bholaa Movie Review (2023)

Ajay Devgn

Ajay Devgn crafts a sturdy (but generic) star vehicle out of Lokesh Kanagaraj's sturdy (but generic) star vehicle

Bholaa Movie Review

Bholaa Movie Cast & Crew

Production : Dream Warrior Pictures,Reliance Entertainment,Ajay Devgn FFilms
Director : Ajay Devgn
Music Director : Ravi Basrur

Ajay Devgn's Bholaa follows the same beats as its predecessor, Lokesh Kanagaraj's Kaithi – but there's one crucial difference in terms of flavour. Lokesh made a Hollywood-style action movie. Ajay's version is full-on desi, right down to colloquialisms we have not heard on the Hindi screen in years – like the phrase "neki aur pooch pooch". In other words, we have a team that's thinking in the local language. When someone asks what the hero's name is, the reply is, "Naam bataaya to paon mein gir jayega." Indeed! Because it's god's name: Bholaa. And throughout, the man is portrayed like a god, with ash on his forehead and a fight sequence with a trident. He is invincible. (In comparison, the equally invincible Karthi character from Kaithi came off like a Marvel superhero.) Another desi-cinema touch: this Hindu protagonist is aided by a Christian cop (Diana, played by Tabu), one of whose secret resources is a Muslim named Ali Abbas.

The nicest change in Bholaa is transforming the Narain character into a woman, and making her an action heroine. In fact, the film opens with her scenes. She does not faint midway and leave the hero alone. She threatens him. She sympathises with him and bonds with him. And she shares butt-kicking duties with him. When a new constable says he has no guns, she gives him this line: "Vardi bandook ke saath nahin, bahaduri ke saath pehni jaati hai." That could be Dharmendra talking! The other effective change is with the character of the protagonist's daughter, who's in an orphanage. Her scenes are more emotionally fleshed out. I mean, if you are going the sentimental route, you might as well go all the way. I loved the touch that the anklets Bholaa has bought for her have a small story behind them. It's because his wife used to wear anklets, too. We see them in her very first scene.

Otherwise, the same things that were said about Kaithi could be said about Bholaa. It's an intentionally dumbed-down movie that gives away everything in the set-up. The plot is about cops and druglords and a huge consignment of cocaine. We know not just that there are moles on both sides, but also who these moles are. We see bounty hunters and an older version of the Hollywood trope of a rookie cop (played by an excellent Sanjay Mishra) -- and he's surrounded by a bunch of hapless college students. Thereon, the film is essentially a series of action set pieces, which are pretty imaginatively conceived by Indian standards. But there are some nice tweaks in the screenplay. For instance, here, Bholaa and his daughter actually connect over a call – but before he can give in to his emotions, some biker-goons crash the party and he has to fight them away first. That father-daughter emotion is left hanging – it will have to wait. 

Of the cast, Deepak Dobriyal hams it up nicely as a drug kingpin. He really appears unhinged. Makarand Deshpande gets to be a sutradhar, a narrator of sorts – and the reverence with which he talks about Bholaa is consistent with the treatment of the title character as a god. Tabu and Ajay Devgn pair up well, and her revelation during their scene together ties in sweetly with the ending. The leadup to the Gatling gun sequence, however, was much better in Kaithi – and so was the hero's flashback, which was beautifully narrated by Karthi. (Here, we cut to a visual flashback that does not tell us much we don't already know about Bholaa.) All things considered, like Kaithi, Bholaa is a perfectly serviceable – and generic – piece of entertainment. And the ending gives us a surprise in terms of a new actor, whose character suggests that Bholaa-2 may not travel along the lines of Kaithi-2. There's a fabulously pulpy touch about this character's physicality. All I'll say is this: looking forward!

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Baradwaj Rangan

National Award-winning film critic Baradwaj Rangan, former deputy editor of The Hindu and senior editor of Film Companion, has carved a niche for himself over the years as a powerful voice in cinema, especially the Tamil film industry, with his reviews of films. While he was pursuing his chemical engineering degree, he was fascinated with the writing and analysis of world cinema by American critics. Baradwaj completed his Master’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations through scholarship. His first review was for the Hindi film Dum, published on January 30, 2003, in the Madras Plus supplement of The Economic Times. He then started critiquing Tamil films in 2014 and did a review on the film Subramaniapuram, while also debuting as a writer in the unreleased rom-com Kadhal 2 Kalyanam. Furthermore, Baradwaj has authored two books - Conversations with Mani Ratnam, 2012, and A Journey Through Indian Cinema, 2014. In 2017, he joined Film Companion South and continued to show his prowess in critiquing for the next five years garnering a wide viewership and a fan following of his own before announcing to be a part of Galatta Media in March 2022.