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Bhuj: The Pride of India review: Chaotic mess

Last Updated : 14 August 2021, 08:50 IST
Last Updated : 14 August 2021, 08:50 IST

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Bhuj: The Pride of India

Hindi (Disney+Hotstar)

Director: Abhishek Dudhaiya

Cast: Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Nora Fatehi

Rating: 2.5/5

'Bhuj: The Pride of India', like many in its genre in the recent past, begins with a bang and ends with a bang. But in between, it’s only a relay of chaotic scenes loaded with merciless melodrama, gut-wrenching action and an ‘unbelievable’ VFX-aided climax. And, of course, a few songs which further slows down the narrative.

As the filmmakers claim, it is indeed based on ‘extraordinary events’, but (unintentionally) made into an even more ‘extraordinary film’ by an ‘extraordinary’ screenplay, written by four writers, including the director Abhishek Dudhaiya. The other ‘extraordinary’ irritant is the ‘extraordinarily’ endless dialogue bazi and shairo shayari.

The film is based on a small but significant chapter in the history of the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, which with passage of time and endless repetition, has gained a parallel niche for itself. The Bhuj airbase in Gujarat is damaged by the Pakistan air force leaving the Indian army without an air strip to recoup and retaliate.

The resourceful IAF squadron leader Vijay Karnik (Ajay Devgn) galvanizes around 300 women from a local village and rebuilds the airstrip which helps the Indian army fly in its men and machinery and eventually help win the war.

Much of the details of this episode are not easily available in public domain. The film makers seem to have exploited this crucial aspect and taken a suspiciously simplistic approach to twist facts to suit their fictional narrative.

The film loses its grip on the story and soon the narrative begins to meander aimlessly before making a predictable end with the hero doing the impossible: helping an army plane loaded with hundreds of soldiers but without its front wheel land on the back of an army truck.

The first-half is all about high-voltage verbal duels and poetic interactions, leaving the audience wondering if they are enjoying a mushaira or watching a war epic.

For instance, take this conversation at a crucial juncture in the film: Devgn has a gun to the head of an enemy spy and demands the code. The spy says on the phone to his boss across the border: Shahjahan pyar ka badshah hain (Shahjahan is the emperor of love).

The boss replies: Tajmahal pyar ke nishani hain (Tajmahal is a symbol of love).

Devgn butts in: Agar Tajmahal pyar ke nishani hain, tho Hindustan tere baap ke kahani hain (If the Tajmahal is a symbol of love, then India is your father).

Another scene loses its intensity because of some more unnecessary dialogue baazi: Marathas sirf do chese janthe he, marna ya maarna (Marathas know only two things: kill or be killed).

Compare this with Uri: The Surgical Strike’s adrenaline-infusing war cry when Vicky Kaushal screams at the top of his voice: How’s the josh? And his army colleagues reply: High Sir. 'Bhuj' lacks this spark which ignited patriotic fervor in 'Uri'.

The second half is in stark contrast as action overtakes acting and the stunt master takes over from the director; and the script goes for a toss. Fighter planes unleashing huge bombs crowd the skies while truck load of army men with sharp weapons tear each other apart on the ground.

The film, however, has its high moments. It’s, in fact, a visual treat at times with some magnificent shots of bomber planes performing aerial gymnastics even though its singular aim is to unleash blood and gore on the ground.

The star cast is sincere in their portrayals but heavily constrained because of a disjointed screenplay and undisciplined direction.

Ajay Devgn as the IAF squadron leader Vijay Karnik is, as usual, intense but, like his acting colleagues, including Sanjay Dutt, is let down by the writing crew.

Aseem Bajaj's camera work has a lasting impact.

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Published 13 August 2021, 18:18 IST

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