A noir psychological thriller, Sriram Raghavan explores the connected motivations of revenge and redemption in Badlapur. When two bank robbers kill his wife and child, Raghu’s (Varun Dhawan) world is turned upside down. Shattered and possessed by grief, he cannot see beyond vengeance. While one bank robber, Liaq (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is jailed for 20 years for the crime; his partner, Harman (Vinay Pathak) roams scot-free. Raghu bides his time. But time is cruel: rather than heal his wounds, it infects them.
Raghu moves to a dead-end place called Badlapur where he works a mechanical job as a factory foreman and leads a pared down lonely life, mourning daily for the loss of his young family. As time passes, Dhawan begins to look more under slept, as if bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders. In the meanwhile, Liaq has aged and his wild ways catch up with him during his incarceration. Siddiqui plays the part with measures of mischief and evil. When he gets out, Liaq dreams of taking his half of the stolen money and escaping to Bangkok with his love, a commercial s** worker played by Huma Qureshi.
Raghu, in the meanwhile, besides nurturing a simmering violence, has also, inexplicably, become a misogynist, displaying blatant disrespect for all the women he encounters. Among them are characters like a social worker played by Divya Dutta and Harman’s wife, Kanchan, played by Radhika Apte. Till mid-way the film is gripping, with a fine screenplay based on one of Italian crime writer Massimo Carlotto’s novels. The camerawork and music enhance the mood that peaks at interval point but then flattens out later and ends tamely.
Sadly one never feels Raghu’s torture or his angst, this might be in part due to Dhawan’s lack of maturity to pull off this complex part though there are scenes where the internalization of his grief does rise to his eyes, if only his diction were better. But it’s a Siddiqui show all right and he appears to be relishing the role. The supporting cast includes Yami Gautam, Qureshi, Dutta, Apte, Pathak etc and each one does a fine job. Worth a watch but with managed expectations.