Harshvardhan Kapoor is earnest in this homegrown vigilante flick
We, the audience are totally spoilt brats in the truest sense. We have ruined ourselves with worshipping superhero figures created using ‘said’ special effects, tacky costumes and flimsy hairstyles. Where the protagonist and antagonist look like they’ve walked into an awry Halloween party.
‘Bhavesh Joshi Superhero’, directed by Vikramaditya Motwane (of ‘Udaan’, ‘Lootera’ and ‘Trapped’ fame) succeeds in not falling into the trap of clichés and that itself, is a welcome respite.
The film starts off when the youth of the nation is echoing in unison against corruption in 2011, with a reference to the Jan Lokpal Bill and Anna Hazare serving as a backdrop. Sikandar Khanna (played by Harshvardhan Kapoor), Bhavesh Joshi (a brilliant Priyanshu Painyuli) and Rajat (played by Ashish Verma) are three friends who bond over the love for DC comics and a dream for a corrupt-free nation.
As two hot-blooded youngsters hailing from middle-class backgrounds in Mumbai, Sikandar and Bhavesh believe that they can help in bringing a change to the society, by raising a voice within their reach. They confront random citizens who break a signal or urinate against a wall, and these incidents are brought to light in public on Insaaf TV, a web portal the boys create to spread awareness. What happens when one of the friends chance upon a possible municipal water supply scam involving the police-politician-mafia nexus, forms the crux of the film.
Written by Motwane, Anurag Kashyap and Abhay Koranne, ‘Bhavesh Joshi Superhero’ starts off with an engaging first half but then suffers from the curse of the second half. The first half explores the dilemma of walking the fine line between aspirations and survival, in crucially brilliant scenes. How palms of corrupt policemen are greased to speed up passport processes and why shifting base to the US is considered a safe bet are explained effectively.
What one can also applaud Motwane for is how aware he is of the influence of social media on the youth. In a telling scene that serves as a scathing commentary on digital content consumption trends, we see a key character writing an article that headlines as “21 Ways to Be Like Ranveer Singh”. What an irony given that the director himself is not active on social media.
DOP Siddarth Diwan captures the Mumbai mosaic in all its glory. Amit Trivedi’s music blends seamlessly into the narrative. ‘Chavanprash’ and ‘Tafreeh’ linger in your head, much after you’ve walked out of the screening. Action directors Cyril Raffaelli, Sebastien Seveau and Vikram Dahiya stage one of the best cat-and-mouse chase sequences seen in a long time, in Hindi cinema. Casting director Mukesh Chhabra casts his spell once again while piecing together commendable actors to tell the tale.
Of the cast, Harshvardhan is sincere and ‘Bhavesh Joshi Superhero’ fleshes out, a more nuanced performance from him. Though still unpolished, the actor brims with potential. If he continues with the same dedication, there is all likeliness of him proving to be the better actor amongst his other popular actor siblings. Priyanshu is a true find and we really hope to see more of him, in the films to come. Ashish, who plays Rajat, is relatable to a lot of us. Newcomer Shreiyah Sabharwal, who plays Sikandar’s lawyer girlfriend Sneha, is completely wasted. More of a mandatory ‘cast-a-love-interest’ box ticked off the list. Even the otherwise commendable Nishikant Kamat is one-note as the principle antagonist.
Had the screenplay been consistent and tighter, ‘Bhavesh Joshi Superhero’ would’ve seen home. Yet, for the sake of bringing a homegrown superhero-vigilante flick in all its honesty, without exploiting the jingoistic tropes we’ve seen so far, we’d recommend that you give this a chance.