An Jo on Bhavesh Joshi


On Bhavesh Joshi, a fine experiment by Vikramaditya Motwane…

This movie I think was released in 2017 or 2018; I don’t remember. I totally ignored it thanks to some horrific reviews the movie got. Overall, it was in the negative space. I left it at that thinking Motwane had some experiment up his sleeve that had massively mis-fired. On top of that, you have a bad actor like Harshvardhan Kapoor; not just ‘relatively’ incompetent as Arjun Kapoor but, terribly bad actors surviving thanks to their, well, ‘insider-trading.’

I was genuinely surprised how good a movie this is, and what in God’s mind were the reviewers/critics thinking by dismissing it altogether? This is not a perfect film; it is highly flawed. But Motwane turns it on us and plays a cunning game: Those flaws, are what make the film questionable, are highly and equally enjoyable!

This is an old movie; so, I guess everyone knows the storyline and the film’s fate at the BO. In brief, Motwane tries to create a super-hero out of a middle-class Brahman Bhavesh Joshi – surprise, surprise, there is no ‘caste’ caging here; if you get what I mean – who is affected by corruption, not personally; unlike Mohan Joshi in Saeed Mirza’s fantastic ‘Mohan Joshi Haazir Ho.’ The person impacted here is Barve, played appropriately by Suhas Palshikar. In a way, this film is an extension of ‘Rang De Basanti’, of either staying back to change the country or shipping oneself off to ‘developed’ countries, but being directed by Motwane, of course, one can hardly expect a Rakeysh Mehra kind of treatment!

Motwane models his film, initially, on the platform of Nolan’s ‘Batman Begins’, but chooses to set his film in a realistic milieu and the nerve-center of India, Bombay. An idea originating at a restaurant amongst three friends, where one of them is excited about creating India’s first super-hero, albeit in Hindi! [Of course, it seems like he has a surprisingly good job considering that all he does at his job/desk as a software engineer is writing ‘articles’ like ’21 things needed to become Ranveer Singh’!] So, no wonder he has all the time in the world to come up with an India-centric super-hero named ‘Insaaf-Man.’ [Not the Hindi ‘Man’ but English ‘Man’ – Hindi language can only take you so far.] Initially ridiculed by Priyanshu Painyuli’s Bhavesh Joshi and Harshvardhan Kapoor’s Sikander Khanna [Sikku], Bhavesh gets sucked into the idea seeing the problems of the ‘common-man’ in Bombay. The focus then shifts to a specific problem plaguing a society, the water-problem, which when expanded, is indeed water-mafia. [Sorry Shekhar Kapur, Motwane got there earlier.]

Both Bhavesh and Sikku create you-tube accessible ‘Insaaf’ series where users can mention their problems in the city of Bombay – electricity, wi-fi/internet speed issues, water, etc., etc., — and these two try to threaten and improve the system by wearing brown paper-bags on their dope-heads and try to scare the wrong-doers into changing their habits. It is so ridiculous that it is sublime to see them trying to stop someone from entering a No-Entry zone or preventing someone from hacking down a tree. Of course, they get beaten black-and-blue and laugh about it, but somewhere, more than Sikku, it affects Bhavesh a lot and he decides to don on the role of a ‘real’ vigilante; real blood, real villains, real bashings, and well, real death. He gets that conduit through Barve who is complaining of water-crises in his society and nobody pays attention to him. So ahead goes Bhavesh Joshi, trying to expose the water/tanker-mafia, and the high-level officials involved in this scam; from a cop to a corporator to an influential businessman. After a tiff with Sikku regarding bribing a cop to get his passport to fly to Atlanta on a project, Bhavesh gets bloody serious a la Madhavan  and tries to get proof of the tanker-mafia, and of course, one knows what is destined to happen. In the meantime, Sikku takes it upon himself to rake up a revolution with Bhavesh as a symbol of the revolution. What happens next, is a roller-coaster ride of how Sikku tries to expose the behemoths of corruption and the impact on his personal life.

It’s an interesting take, remarkably interesting in fact. By placing a wannabe ‘super-hero’ in the midst of a realistic problem like water-scarcity in a real-city like Bombay – one cannot miss the nod to Nicholson’s Chinatown where he has his nose slashed – Motwane toys around with the way our brains have been imprinted with the idea of ‘super-heroes’ and their origins. Everything about this super-hero is, well, hardly heroic. This is a fumbling, even bumbling, emotionally weak character. Even ‘Tintin’ in his comic-book avatar is well-etched and groomed than Sikku. But herein lies the trick. Motwane is trying to bring out the contradictions regarding anyone – be he or her a super-hero or a masala hero –  who wants to take on the system; and how frustrating and fruitless it is when one tries to do so; whether it is Amitabh in ‘Inquilaab’ or ‘Shahenshah’ or Sikku in ‘Bhavesh Joshi.’ Of course, Motwane here tries to fit-in a reluctant wannabe super-hero into a realistic city and a realistic problem, and hence, by extension, this gives rise to more questions; in the cinematic-verse of course.

As I mentioned before, this is hardly a super-hero, vigilante movie. This is an action movie more and might, or might not equally, be considered as a foundation to a super-hero’s origins. Sikku’s actions are antithetical to a super-hero! He is a tech-geek; but forgets that the city and its hotels and bars are ridden with CCTVs, he goes around carelessly to Mhatre’s apartment-unit with his stupid-suit and tries to extract information from him. [Now that action scene is stunning the way Motwane subverts the super-hero ingredients – he gets beaten badly and he is saved by his Karate teacher while the super-hero runs to his abandoned building!!] In an even better hilariously shot scene, Sikku, when trying to get to the bottom of the water-mafia conspiracy, keeps visiting a dance-bar, and is forced by the drunk-corporator who owns the bar to dance with the ladies! It is a truly memorable scene, and I just couldn’t control my laughter! The only time when one feels that one is watching a super-hero dedicating himself to play a super-hero is when Sikku is trying to get his motor-bike turbo-charged or breaking into the immigration system of T3 in Bombay. [And that scene in T3 was idiotic since being such a smart engineer, couldn’t he have hacked into the system from a cyber-café?]

This is a film that doesn’t have one dull moment – again, that’s me speaking. It is a flabbergasting and a frustrating movie at the same time, but I guess Motwane knew what he was doing and anticipated the kind of reactions he would be at the fore front of. The back-ground score and music by Amit Trivedi is fantastic. This song takes the cake.

Of course, the movie was going great but alas, Mr. Kashyap decided to jump-in and insert his ‘anti-national’ and ‘Pakistani-agent’ agenda. Jesus man, the guy needs to take a break! It is so laughable that I am getting tired laughing at it. Motwane was carrying on the film so well when we hit this poke-your-nose everywhere guy. Jeez.

There’s a reason why the movie title has ‘Bhavesh Joshi’ in a titular font while ‘Super-here’ is just a sub-text.

Coming to Harshvardhan Kapoor, he is so bad, that I trust the intelligence of Motwane better that he deliberately wanted a bad actor like Harsh in this movie. It is a telling fact and a marriage of convenience between Kapoor’s non-existing talent and the super-hero’s ever-lasting confusions. The real scene-stealers are of course, Priyanshu, Pratap Phad as Patil, Chinmay Pandlekar as the cop Sunil Jadhav, and Pabitra Rabha as the Karate-teacher.

I recommend everyone to watch the movie, but be sure there will be a very, very divided audience, and I don’t mean politically. [I very well recognize the agenda of folks like Kashyap and ignore it.] Even cinematically, the way it is conceived and shot, it won’t bring everyone on the same page. But it is a fine and commendable experiment by Motwane who takes vigilantism and pure action and turns them topsy-turvy.

9 Responses to “An Jo on Bhavesh Joshi”

  1. Thanks for recommending it. Will watch it.
    A bit disappointed to hear about Harshvardhan Kapoor. Even an Arjun Kapoor got a better break.

    Like

  2. Glad to know I’m not the only one in my circle who likes this movie. It is very well done IMO and will stand the test of time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. tonymontana Says:

    It was a good movie. I liked it.
    It is also a fine addition to a filmography that is as diverse as can be of any director, past or present. In a short span of time, Motwane has built a filmography that even versatile directors would be ashamed of. Lootera, Udaan, Trapped, and Bhavesh Joshi. He’s a man who is not just unafraid to experiment with genres. He can make splendid films in each.
    Regarding the negative press, I suspect a lot of it had to do with Harshvardhan’s ‘attitude problems’ that rubbed the media the wrong way. Know someone who’s been in film journalism, and these guys attended the preview screenings with preconceived notions. Rumours about the lead actor interfering with the vision of the director, tantrums on sets, etc. were doing the rounds at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am not aware of any interfering or attitude or negative press regarding HK. But he is truly a bad actor and he got his genes from Arjun Kapoor.

      In MIRZEYA, since the songs were so fantastic and it was so beautifully shot, HK was relegated and hence, I didn’t feel or connect with the bad actor in him. Here, since he’s in the fore-front, my God, he is unimaginably poor.

      Great pair – Arjun and Harshvardhan…

      Like

  4. I remember watching it and not liking it much, I think I wrote something on it here on SS but could not find it now.

    Like

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