Director: Sriram Raghavan
Cast: Varun Dhawan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Yami Gautam
I’m going to start my review with an origins story. In 279 BC, Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus, went to war with the Romans. He defeated them, but his own battalions were also wiped out. After the battle, Pyrrhus declared: One more such victory and I am lost. Which is where the phrase ‘pyrrhic victory’ comes from. Remember Pyrrhus as you watch Badlapur, Sriram Raghavan’s deliciously twisted and dark drama about a man consumed by revenge. Raghav, played by Varun Dhawan, is a loving husband and father. A bank robbery shatters his wonderfully ordinary home. Raghu’s life becomes defined by hate.
The film, based on a story by Massimo Carlotto, is a standard revenge drama. What makes it memorable are the characters. Each one is sharply written — even the minor characters, like a female detective, get a sparkling moment. Each one is complex and ultimately unknowable; so Liak, the bank robber played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, is devious, dangerously unpredictable and brutal. But he is also capable of a deep and abiding love.
The relationship between him and Jhimli, a prostitute played by Huma Qureshi, is so tender that you are torn between hating him and rooting for them to live happily ever after. Badlapur is tough, on both its viewers and its actors. Full marks to Varun for stepping out of his comfort zone. The supporting players — from Huma to Kumud Mishra — are terrific. But ultimately, Badlapur rests on the towering talent of Nawazuddin.