Bhediya Review: Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon give an entertaining howl with their wild creature-comedy

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Film: Bhediya

Cast: Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon, Abhishek Banerjee, Paalin Kabak, Deepak Dobriyal

Director: Amar Kaushik

Rating: 3.5 Moons

Amar Kaushik is back in his safe and best zone, which is horror-comedy, with Bhediya. A part of Dinesh Vijan’s horror-comedy universe, the film which can be better-called creature-comedy is headlined by Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon, Abhishek Banerjee, Paalin Kabak and Deepak Dobriyal. Bhediya, in its best form throughout 2 hours 36 minutes, is an experience we never had before. The introduction shot takes us into the wilderness of Northeast India through an eagle-eye perspective. The drama begins inside a dimly lit hut made of wood. As the air of mystery builds up, a werewolf attack changes the lives of those two people present in the frame. When the opening shot catches your attention, the expectation, naturally, shoots up high and Bhediya doesn’t disappoint.

Bhediya, which means werewolf in Hindi, is set in the mystic, virgin, and pristine locales of Arunachal Pradesh’s Ziro. As calm, serene and angelic as the region is, there are enigmatic secrets hidden in the woods and in the depths of clear water. The biggest and most fearsome one is about Vishanu, a creature whose bit has the power to turn a human into a monster or werewolf. Bhaskar (Varun Dhawan) falls prey to Vishanu’s infectious bite during his visit to Arunachal Pradesh for road construction activities. Dr. Anika (Kriti Sanon) is the only ray of hope in the quiet town. Bhaskar’s friends JD (Abhishek Banerjee) and Joe (Paalin Kabak) are the ones who bring comic relief to his life as well as the film.

The creature-comedy further orbits around how Bhaskar’s life changes and how the Bhediya within him alters his perspective on life, nature and the wild. Amid all of this, there’s no compromise on humour. The few jump scares at regular intervals are executed masterfully. The world of Bhediya is surreal. Enigma, thrill, eeriness, humour, social message and mysticism are like pieces that fit perfectly to complete the puzzle of entertainment. The ongoing debate of man vs wild definitely gets a wilder and more thrilling perspective with the film. Though Bhediya is thoroughly entertaining and engaging, it doesn’t miss out on highlighting, rather very boldly, the core idea of normalising and accepting North East citizens as Indian citizens. There are multiple subplots being touched upon in the film and it doesn’t deviate your attention.

After Stree, Amar reunites with Dinesh Vijan for Bhediya and it is time we root for and demand more films from this duo. In his top form, Amar owns the film and constructs an audience-pleasing narrative that provides cinematic escapism. Creating an original concept heavily reliant on folklore, myths, and local beliefs, maybe fictional, Amar kicks the ball out of the park when it comes to innovation. The plan to take the franchise, including Bhediya’s prequel/sequel, has received a green signal and the post-climax scene will certainly leave you surprised and excited. No, there’s, sadly, no Shraddha Kapoor.

The hero of any film has to be the story and crisp writing. Bhediya wins a major part of the battle in this department. The screenplay is nurtured with some of the best moments where you might find yourself shutting your eyes out of fear. Not to forget, the director and writer have used iconic Hindi songs at unexpected junctures, which will possibly crack up the toughest nut in the room too. 

Just like a sweet medicine, the story has some social messages injected. Though preachy after a point, it doesn’t get dragged beyond limits. But this also becomes one of the major drawbacks. A monologue said by Paalin Kabak, despite being effective, feels forced in the narrative. The positioning of the sequence could have been different or the scene could have been blended even better with the events that led to it. Despite a few hiccups, the makers score a brownie point by simply making the decision to set the film in Arunachal Pradesh. While the state has been explored on celluloid a couple of times, there’s nothing that comes closer to what Bhediya has achieved. Each and every colour of flora and fauna that paints the 70mm canvas adds to the overall experience.

Channeling his inner Bhediya, Varun Dhawan delivers a wild, thundering and werewolf-like impactful performance. Carrying the film on his shoulder, almost single-handedly, the actor transforms into a beast effortlessly. Those kohl-rimmed brown eyes and bearded look make him even more desirable whereas his performance establishes him as one of the year’s best actors. The animal flow moves are exciting to watch.

Kriti Sanon as Anika is a ray of sunshine on the silver screen. Her mere presence has the power to soothe you. Despite this, Kriti doesn't get enough meat to chew given the fact that she has proven her mettle with edgy characters and fine performances in the past. Having said so, it is still not clear whether the makers are working on a standalone story around her character. A little more of her would have done no harm.

Abhishek Banerjee springs up a surprise once again and the audience expects no less. As JD, his comic timing is bang on. Hold on, there’s a lot more to him but for that, theatre is your way to unlock the fun suspense. Paalin Kabak, the North Eastern actor, has done a fabulous job. He is a talent to look forward to. Deepak Dobriyal’s caliber needs no introduction. With Bhediya, he reiterates why he is the best in the business.

If you speak of mythical creatures and fantasy stories, the VFX has to be the strongest and Bhediya doesn’t fall flat in this department too. The music elevates the overall experience and the cinematography has the ability to make your jaws drop. Bhediya is one thrilling, exhilarating and entertaining experience in the wild. 

PeepingMoon.com gives Bhediya 3.5 Moons

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