Bholaa movie review: Ajay Devgn directs and stars in this less than impressive Kaithi remake high on VFX and adrenaline.
Remember the iconic scene from Ajay Devgn’s debut Phool Aur Kaante (1991) when he did that iconic split on top of two bikes? Cut to 2023, bikes are back but instead of balancing on them, he is flipping them in the air, setting them on fire, beating bikers left, right and centre and serving some high-octane action. Bholaa is undoubtedly an exhilarating watch. Slick action with the hero single-handedly beating 100 bad guys, Bholaa is nothing short of a full-on mass entertainer that turns a theatre into stadium with the public cheering and clapping each time the hero shows a gravity-defying move. Is that all realistic? No. Do you enjoy watching it? It depends on whether you’re a fan of well-choreographed stunts.
Bholaa will give you adrenaline rush, but if you also look for an equally meaningful story or at least a narrative that brings some value, Bholaa will disappoint you at many levels. A Hindi adaptation of Tamil film Kaithi (2019), Bholaa tries to recreate the same magic albeit with its share of flaws. And there are many! Once again wearing the director’s hat, Ajay Devgn ensures he brings larger-than-life action on screen which is not seen before, or at least not on this level. But in the process, the story is so side-lined that you actually wait for something to make sense. After a point, it’s literally a montage of one brilliant action sequence after the other, but the mindless stunts can impress you only till they last.
Bholaa chronicles the tale of a night when a just-released prisoner, ex-conman Devgn (Bholaa) is waiting to meet his daughter for the first time in 10 years. But his journey turns out to be a rather difficult course when IPS Diana Joseph (Tabu) asks him to drive a truck full of 40 unconscious police officers who fell prey to a conspiracy at a farewell party of a senior officer (Kiran Kumar in a cameo). Parallelly, there is a drug mafia being run by Sika Gang – Ashwathama aka Ashu (Deepak Dobriyal) and his elder brother Nithari, who would go to any extremes to get their cocaine back that Diana has seized and kept in a jail. They send out multiple gangs to kill the cops in the truck and capture Diana, but Bholaa turns into an undefeatable force and fights them all. That’s basically the plot, which keeps you busy, if not hooked, for some 2.5 hours.
Amid all this, several questions remain unanswered and very little is shown, told or revealed about Bholaa’s past. Who is Bholaa? How did he become this strong? Why was he sentenced in the first place? There’s a blink-and-miss kind of love angle between Bholaa and Amala Paul, but that’s about it. How that love blossoms and becomes the catalyst for a lot of things is never touched upon. That somehow put me off. Of course, the cliff-hanger in the climax gets you super curious and the film ends on a ‘to be continued’ note, but this is a bit much of a tease for audiences to wait for the truth to be revealed. Yes, it’s like pulling off a Baahubali kind of craze and hype. Not sure if the sequel would come back with all the answers or would again focus on just the adrenaline factor.
Bholaa is so fast-paced that one actually needs time to sink in an action sequence unfold onscreen before the next one comes up. Here, an engaging screenplay by Aamil Keeyan Khan, Ankush Singh, Sandeep Kewlani and Shriidhar Dubey does the trick. The action scenes one after the other don’t look like disjointed pieces of a puzzle but cleverly placed to keep up the excitement high. Lokesh Kanagaraj, who has also written the original, is strong with an intriguing plot, but if you haven’t seen Kaithi, then Bholaa ends up looking like a cat-and-mouse-chase between this truck being driven on endless roads across the state, and criminals lurking every few kilometres only to be evaded by Bholaa’s might. Aseem Bajaj’s cinematography has a lot to do. Given that the film is entirely shot at night and is mostly dark, highlighting the imagery and graphics isn’t an easy feat in this case, so it does get a bit messy there.
Devgn as the actor is in top form and when he rolls up his sleeves and perform stunts, you can expect the unexpected. I mean, come on, isn’t it very 70s’ to watch the hero beating 100 men and continue to stand up and fight with the same stamina every single time? Yes, he channelises his inner Shiva in the best possible way, but it’s all far from reality. I wanted to see more of him talk and even the emotional bits which just come and go should have stayed for a bit longer. Tabu seems to be becoming a pro at playing a cop. After two parts of Drishyam, Kuttey and now Bholaa, she looks confident and convincing in uniform more than any other female actor. Though in Bholaa, we hardly see her in the police uniform as most of the time she is made to disappear as Devgn takes spotlight while fighting the bad guys. Dobriyal in a completely psychotic and menacing role is unbelievably brilliant. For once, I thought it was choreographer Terrence Lewis making his acting debut, but when you look closer to find Dobriyal, and he just bowls you over with his performance. Yadav ji (Sanjay Mishra) and corrupt home minister (Gajraj Rao) in lend able support to the story and impress with their acting chops.