Vikramaditya Motwane- the man behind the films like Udaan, Lootera, and Trapped, is back in the experimental game with Bhavesh Joshi. However, this time he misses the mark by a fair distance. It would be unfair to call Bhavesh Joshi, Hindi cinema's answer to the recent trend of superheroes, in fact, the film lacks and owns characteristics more common to a dark, vigilante thriller.
The film is about a group of three friends, Bhavesh (Priyanshu Painyuli ), Sikander (Harshvardhan Kapoor)and Rajat(Ashish Verma). Bhavesh and Siku are two passionate youngsters who want to clean up their country for good and bring 'insaaf' to anybody in need. However, reality hits them soon enough and while Siku and Rajat get into the routine of life, Bhavesh keeps the 'insaaf-man' in him, alive. Things take an ugly turn and Siku takes it upon himself to keep his friend and vigilante, Bhavesh Joshi, alive in the hearts and minds of wrong-doers. The entire story is built around a big water-scam in Mumbai involving ministers, corrupt police, and few opportunists.
If plainly put, Bhavesh Joshi belongs in the list of watchable Hindi noirs, and the credit goes to the writers more than the executors. The intention behind making the film is clear right from the beginning and the subtle hints to the current socio-political situation in the country, questioning everything from the double standards of bureaucracy, the media and 'Swachch Mission' of certain politicians to throw any voice of dissent to the forbidden borders of the neighbouring country.
However, not everything is as rosy and perfect as written in the script. There are major loopholes in the narrative, where you keep questioning certain moves or routes taken by the hero(es). The makers wanted to make the film as close to reality as possible, but certain impractical and naive methods make you believe that in the end they did get swayed by the 'superhero' moral code of giving unrealistic solutions to the real-world problems. Another big issue with the film is its length. There are certain scenes and scenarios which could've been easily chopped to make give the story a crisp, thrilling mood, however, the idea of righteousness takes its toll after the interval.
Talking about the performances, the real breakout star in the film is Bhavesh Joshi. Not Harshvardhan but Priyanshu Painyuli. The actor wears the insaaf mask with required ingenuity and conviction, so much that it makes you believe in his cause. He is a find in the film and let's hope Motwane and Kashyap use this talent in their future projects as well. Priyanshu keeps the pace and plot interesting but as soon as Harshvardhan steps into his shoes the plot becomes as dead as his expressions. It's not that Kapoor does a terrible job. His deadpan expressions are perfect for his state of being a heartbroken, vengeful best friend, but he fails to bring anything new or genuine on the table. The fire that gets ignited by Priyanshu's conviction gets a little dim and grim with Kapoor's arrival.
The story also fails to use the potential of Mumbai in building its narrative. Sure, the chases and whistle-blowing moments in the film do take you through the lanes of the city, but somewhere the heart is missing. One of the key characters in any vigilante superhero film is the city he resides in, like Gotham for Batman or Hell's Kitchen for Daredevil, Bhavesh Joshi fails to tap that. The action chases and sequences are enjoyable and the entire paper-mask style and using videos and internet to put across the truth reminds you of V for Vendetta, in a good way.
Overall, Motwane did try to bring a rather relatable and noble topic upfront without being too preachy. However, the execution couldn't convey the emotions of the writing completely and sloppy editing makes it a slow take-in rather than a thrilling vigilant watch. The film deserves a watch for Priyanshu's conviction, some relatable chapters of life and friendships, and the 'insaaf-punch' trickled by the writers here and there. Even heroes deserve to fail, but only if there is glory for the world somewhere. The glory here is bleak, thus making Bhavesh Joshi Superhero an underwhelming experience.