‘Bhediya’ Review: Bollywood Creature Comedy Has An Environmental Message

Horror comedy has captivated Indian audiences since the early 2000s, with more than 100 films in the genre having been released. Amar Kaushik’s “Bhediya” (literally “wolf”), Bollywood’s first creature comedy, despite its punishing length is an incredibly entertaining romp through the jungles of north-east India that conveys pro-environmental and anti-racism messages, and also has the potential to become a franchise .

Top Bollywood star Varun Dhawan plays Bhaskar, an ambitious Delhi road worker who has mortgaged his family’s home in order to secure a contract to build a highway through the dense jungle of Arunachal Pradesh in north-eastern India, bordering on China borders to secure. He is accompanied by his cousin Janardhan (Abhishek Banerjee) and has locals Jomin (Paalin Kabaak) and Panda (Deepak Dobriyal) to help. The catch is that he has to get permission from the villagers. The village elders disagree, but Bhaskar convinces the youth that they need malls and “Netflix instead of nature”. With the help of local corrupt officials, he manages to collect enough signatures to close the deal.

To complicate matters further, Bhaskar was also badly bitten on the butt by a wolf and is being treated by veterinarian Anika (Kriti Sanon). The wound heals too quickly and Bhaskar turns into a werewolf at night, taking out the officials who approved the highway project one by one. Panda begs a 120-year-old shaman to turn Bhaskar back into a human, but the local police and militia are determined to hunt down both Bhaskar’s werewolf and the wolf that bit him.

With this, his third film, Kaushik has established a tradition of delivering powerful social messages through a mass entertainment package. His debut horror comedy Stree (2018) was a feminist fable, while Bala (2019) explored alopecia and racial shame. “Bhediya” is all about saving the environment, and the other Indian practice denounced is the habit of pejoratively referring to people from the Northeast as Chinese – a casual racism widespread in the rest of the country is. The messages are on the nose without any subtlety, but that’s often the best way to get them across to a mass audience, and Kaushik and his writer Niren Bhatt manage it effectively.

The accent in “Bhediya” is more on the often youthful and sometimes scatological comedy than on the creatures. When the creatures emerge, it’s a triumph of top-notch visual effects, executed by the team that also worked on the blockbuster “RRR” at London’s Motion Picture Co. Standout is Banerjee, an actor who treats psychopaths and bumpy comics with equal luck and Timing can deduct.

Running at over two and a half hours, the film surpasses its welcome, reinforced by the traditional Bollywood speed-breakers of song and dance and romantic interludes that periodically interrupt the action of the werewolf tale. There are a couple of MCU-style Easter eggs in the credits, and the second of them places “Bhediya” squarely in the “Stree” universe. A franchise certainly beckons.

https://variety.com/2022/film/reviews/bhediya-review-varun-dhawan-1235442605/ ‘Bhediya’ Review: Bollywood Creature Comedy Has An Environmental Message

Charles Jones

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