Varun Dhawan Is in Full Form in Amar Kaushik Werewolf Drama; Kriti Sanon Impresses

Somewhere in the deep down of Bhediya’s screenplay, is a film about the conflict between man and nature waiting to be explored. But writer Niren Bhatt and director Amar Kaushik of ‘Stree’ fame take so long to get to the point, walking us through a long and convoluted plot along the way, that their subversive intent is completely lost.

Varun Dhawan’s Bhediya is a folklore tale that takes us to the forests of Arunachal Pradesh, where Bhaskar Sharma (Varun), a budding contractor, has been tasked with carving a highway, right through the middle of the forest – which incidentally has social, religious and cultural significance for the locals. Despite warnings from the residents, Bhaskar, who has in tow with him, his cousin Guddu (Abhishek Banerjee) and friend Joe (Paalin Kabak), carries on with his plans, only to be bitten by a wolf on a full moon night. With this, comes the ‘kahani’ mein twist where he not only has to stop himself from shape-shifitng into a wolf which the locals call ‘vishaanu,’ but also make sure he doesn’t end up murdering people in the neighbouring areas.

When it comes, the attack is swift and merciless. A huge, wolf-like creatures leaps from the shadows, making one kill after the other. The next thing Bhaskar knows, he is recovering near a stream or at his guesthouse as he is treated by an attractive veterinary doctor Anika Mittal (Kriti Sanon). After a series of harrowing nightmares, Bhaskar decides to take things in control and try and free himself from the curse lycanthropy and be transformed into a werewolf.

Filmmaker Kaushik incorporates a lot of nice elements into the film. Throughout the film we have some laugh out loud hilarious bromance between Bhaskar, Guddu and Joe. The subtle romance between Bhaskar and Anika is sweet without being cloying, and part of the reason we root hard for him to overcome the curse. The other thing that works for the film is the VFX which is one of the best that you have seen in the recent times in Hindi cinema. The team aces the major transformation into a bhediya with finesse.

Of course there’s gore – and plenty of it, making Bhediya a dubious source of entertainment for the squeamish. In fact, the transformation sequences on their own are disturbing enough to upset sensitive viewers, even though the first one doesn’t occur until the interval point, which also makes the first half seem a bit stretched. The other is the preachy and over-the-top messages on conservation which are constantly repeated throughout the film. It also briefly mentions the stereotyping of people in the Northeast and how they frequently have to deal with the outsider label.

It’s the second half where all the action lies. The film picks up pace and takes us to some interesting revelations in the climax. The biggest highlight of the film is its successful marriage of comedy and horror. The humorous sequences are funny enough to laugh at, while the gruesome scenes retain the power to shock. The ending is terrifi0c and I suspect it is the reason why the film was made. But to get there, we must endure a screenplay that borders on incoherence. With a plot that’s too convoluted and takes the entire runtime of the film to establish itself, Bhediya terribly falters at storytelling, and fails to give out the message it intends to.

The film, however, boasts of a strong cast. Varun Dhawan is in full form and is a delight to watch as an egoistic prick-turned-reluctant-werewolf. His performance is elevated by the presence of Abhishek Banerjee and Kabak, a hilarious comic duo who also gets some great moments to shine.

Even with the little screen time Kriti Sanon is given to work with, she delivers an impressive performance as she blends in nicely as the alluring out-of-towner with an air of mystery around her that does justice to her important character. Deepak Dobriyal’s comedic timing remains unmatched. All major characters also have an easy chemistry together that makes the film better.

Keeping aside the shortcomings, Bhediya has a message that resonates with current times. The film has its heart in the right place but it falters in its execution and writing. Watch it if you have been thirsting for a horror-comedy.

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