If you found Amar Kaushik’s Stree to be one of the smartest and most unnerving horror comedies, his latest entry, Bhediya, just takes things up a notch. From good comedy and a novel concept to visual effects and a strong script, Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon lead actor Bhediya provide plenty of laughs and tears throughout. Also read: Janhvi Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao and Shahid Kapoor accompany Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon in the Bhediya performance
The story begins with road contractor Bhaskar (Varun Dhawan) heading to Arunachal Pradesh to build a highway through the dense forests of Ziro. He is joined by his cousin Janardhan aka JD (Abhishek Bannerjee) and a local Northeast friend, Jomin (Paalin Kabak). As the trio begin their mission to convince the tribesmen to give up their lands and allow roads to be built, they encounter strange incidents, the most notable of which is Bhasker being bitten by a wolf. Soon he acquires characteristics and characteristics of the creature and hereupon the folklore about the shape-shifting wolf named “Vishaanu” increases and the story becomes more gripping and interesting.
Varun Dhawan is in top form and has every frame. He literally pushed the boundaries, trying a new genre and looking so convincing doing it. His transformation scenes from a man into a wolf are both breathtaking and terrifying at the same time, with his muscles torn and his sculpted body giving you goosebumps. He excels in both comic and serious scenes. Kriti Sanon is decent and delivers a good performance, but I think her character could have had more depth and a better place in the narrative. But whatever screen time she gets, you enjoy her on screen. Abhishek Bannerjee is magical and hilarious with his weird timing and never misses the bus. His Hindi dialect and the way he delivers his lines (well, he gets the best lines) will have you split. Debutant Paalin Kabak as Varun’s northeastern friend Jomin is quite refreshing, and his camaraderie with both Varun and Abhishek is spot on. Deepak Dobriyal as Panda is good, especially with the way he’s picked up the Northeastern accent and her body language.
While the first half is just average aside from the comedy, it’s the second half that packs all the action. Even there the pacing slows down a bit in between, with some scenes feeling unnecessarily dragged and stretched, but then Varun’s scenes as a wolf and Abhishek’s comedy get you laughing most of the time.
Kaushik once again creates an immersive experience with his direction and brings out the best in his actors. He understands the tricks of mixing the two genres – horror and comedy – which is a big challenge, but he masters it. The dialogues are intense, meaningful and yet hilarious. Niren Bhatt’s story and clever writing gets full marks for a great build, the big reveal, and a pretty funny climax that leaves you wanting more. The inclusion of films like Jaani Dushman, where Amrish Puri turns into a deadly monster, or Junoon, where Rahul Roy turns into a tiger, brings great recognition. There’s even the popular Shehnaaz Gill dialogue – “Kya karu main, marr jaun? Meri koi feels nahi hai?’ which was met with loud cheers and laughter. There are some pathetic lines that I feel could have been eliminated, particularly the toilet humor, and that an entire sequence can put you off.
Jishnu Bhattacharjee’s cinematography deserves special mention here for capturing the deep and dense Ziro forests of Arunachal Pradesh. Bhediya has a visual appeal that does full justice to the beauty of Northeast India and its landscapes. A sequence where Kriti takes Varun into the woods to explore its natural beauty is stunning and so beautifully shot. The VFX and special effects are stunning and on par with some of the best seen in Indian cinema.
What impressed me the most was the way Bhediya conveyed an important message of human-animal conflict without even being preached a bit. Not only that, there’s a very clever mention and discussion of the stereotyping of people from the Northeast as “Chinese” and “outsiders” which fits so organically into the story and is thought-provoking. There’s a scene where Jomin calls people who generalize all Northeast folks as “Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee ka bachha” and expects them to know kung fu. He makes a strong point when he says “being weak at speaking Hindi doesn’t make me any less of an Indian”. And even in these seemingly intense scenes, the aptly placed humor lightens the mood.
Sachin-Jigar’s music is decent, but not all songs leave a mark. Jungle Mein Kaand gets you in the groove with its upbeat music, Baaki Sab Theek is interesting with the quirky rap. The background score is extremely on point and creates impact in the jump scare moments.
Bhediya has a lot of impressive elements and is worth watching on the big screen for the experience it creates and the messages it conveys. Of course, some good performances and hilarious dialogue would make for a watch to remember.
Director: Amar Kauschik
Pour: Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon, Abhishek Bannerjee, Deepak Dobriyal, and Paalin Kabak