Unfortunately, Varun Dhawan starrer ‘Bawaal’ is neither ‘Badlapur’ nor ‘Bhediya’. Why am I saying this? There are times when the audience has presumption about the actors or directors one is planning to watch a movie of. Bawaal, which means commotion, as the title of a film directed by ‘Dangal’ maker Nitesh Tiwari sets great expectations. It stars Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor as a couple in a troubled marriage.
Director Nitesh Tiwari tries to explore the other side to marriage in which the man is more concerned about his ‘superfluous public image’ rather than his personal conduct and refuses to reason. All that matters is the impression people have of him as an infallible perfectionist!
What is Bawaal / commotion all about?
Ajay Dikshit aka Ajju Bhai (Varun Dhawan), an ‘image conscious’ narcissist teaches history at a school in Lucknow. Ajju hates his life of lies despite the awe and respect people hold him to, courtesy his philosophical tendency to ‘fake it till you make it’. To elevate his social status, Ajay gets married to a beautiful looking Nisha (Janhvi Kapoor), who is smarter and more intelligent than him but has history of epilepsy.
Nisha is grounded since he doesn’t want her ‘seizures’ to ‘ruin his reputation’. So much so that he refuses to consummate his marriage, leaving her broken. Ajay has no qualms about making her a domesticated doormat as he goes out drinking with buddies as a routine.
Ajay Dikshit finds himself and his image in jeopardy when in a fit of rage, he slaps a student Atul Raghuvanshi, son of MLA Vishwas Raghuvanshi (Mukesh Tiwari), in frustration over a question about World War II. Ajay concocts a way out and decides to visit places across Europe he deems important to WW II, tagging along Nisha to get money from his parents, who hope it could resolve their marital conflicts. This sets them off on a journey that changes their interpersonal perspective and their views on intrapersonal conflict as they cover both life and history lessons along the way.
Point of View
The story narrated by the ‘Chhichhore’ director would have looked great on the storyboard. I presume, they would have decided on the title wanting to make a situational comedy out of this commotion of thoughts and actions involving a foreign land.
Tiwari’s Bawaal has hints of Kangana Ranaut starrer ‘Queen’, when Nisha decides to go on their ‘second honeymoon’ alone. Coming to think of it for Ajay’s character design, was he so stupid to spend 8-10 lakhs on touring Europe to deliver ‘online’ lessons about the horrors of WW II, that too hearing online podcasts!
Also, morphing war-time scenes with the character could have delivered the same effect on the character staying put in his bed or his school chair in Lucknow too. Afterall all he had to do was to listen an effective narration. Why spend so much of producer’s budget, I say.
Moreover, If the moot point was to convey to accept a person dealing with epilepsy, then it was a long drawn insignificant docudrama which does not even give away the dos and don’ts for people around such sufferers.
Last but not the least, the way the MLA (and the school) forgives the incompetent teacher Ajay Dikshit, who is not only bad in his subject but also does not know the language of the medium he is supposed to teach in. Was it ‘all’s well that ends well’ since the director had no other choice to culminate his story!
Though Varun is a fine actor who surrenders to the director to pull off complex characters, (he’s done films like ‘October’ too) could not help but play along as commanded. Varun does a decent job given the scope to play around with. Jahnvi Kapoor continues to remain raw. She does lend dignity to Nisha. Having said that, Janhvi gets limited scope and is never portrayed in the commanding position even in scenes where the ‘character’ rules. The story should have been from Nisha’s perspective and not the other way round. It could have made all the difference.
Manoj Pahwa and Mukesh Tiwari are both seasoned actors and fit the bill. They probably take the hints from the director and give in their best. Manoj Pahwa, in that limited role just flows effortlessly and conveys his character.
Coming to think of it, Bawaal as a concept, had scope to be made into a good comedy drama with Varun playing the lead had the writing been given more importance and not shooting insignificant foreign locales. All that one takes back, if at all, is that after so much of commotion, it is Nisha’s character that has to give her life / marriage one more shot.
Director: Nitesh Tiwari
Cast: Varun Dhawan, Janhvi Kapoor, Manoj Pahwa, Anjuman Saxena, Mukesh Tiwari, Prateek Pachori, Vyas Hemang, Shashie Vermaa
Streaming on: Prime Video
Duration: 137 minutes