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This Varun, Kriti starrer is high on comedy and novelty

- BHEDIYA Cast: Direction: Monika Rawal Kukreja

Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon, Abhishek Banerjee, Deepak Dobriyal, Paalin Kabak Amar Kaushik

If you found Amar Kaushik’s Stree (2018) a smartly crafted ribticklin­g horror-comedy, his latest outing, Bhediya, only takes things a notch higher. From good comedy and a novel concept to VFX and strong screenplay, the Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon-starrer gives ample moments to laugh and howl throughout.

The story begins with road constructi­on contractor Bhaskar (Dhawan) travelling to Arunachal Pradesh, wanting to make a highway through the forests of Ziro. He is accompanie­d by his cousin Janardhan aka JD (Abhishek Banerjee) and a friend, Jomin (Paalin Kabak), who is a local. As the trio embarks on their mission of convincing the tribals to give their land and allow constructi­on, they encounter strange incidents, the most important one being Bhaskar getting bitten by a wolf. Soon, he acquires the traits and characteri­stics of the creature and hereon, the folklore about the shapeshift­ing wolf called Vishaanu picks up.

Dhawan is in top form and owns each frame. He has pushed the envelope, tried a new genre, and looked convincing doing all of that. His transforma­tion scenes from a man to a wolf are stunning and scary at the same time. Sanon, as veterinari­an Dr Anika Mittal is decent and delivers a fine performanc­e. However, her character could have had more depth and a better placement. Banerjee is magical and hilarious with his comic timing. His Hindi dialect and the way he delivers his lines (he does get the best ones) leave you in splits. Debutant Kabak as Jomin is refreshing, and his camaraderi­e with Dhawan and Banerjee is on point. Deepak Dobriyal as Panda is good, especially in the way he has picked up the nuances and body language of the region.

While the first half is just about average, it’s the second half where all the action lies. Even there, the pace gets a little slow, but Dhawan’s scenes as a wolf and Banerjee’s comic timing keep you cracking up for most of the time.

Kaushik, once again, creates an immersive experience with his direction and brings out the best in his actors. He understand­s the tricks of blending the two genres — horror and comedy — and aces it. Dialogues are intense, meaningful yet funny. Niren Bhatt’s story and clever writing get full marks for a great build-up, the big reveal, and a rather funny climax. Jishnu Bhattachar­jee’s cinematogr­aphy gets a special mention for the way he has captured the deep and dense Ziro forests of Arunachal Pradesh. Bhediya carries a visual appeal that does full justice to the beauty of Northeast India and its landscapes. The VFX and special effects are stunning, too. Sachin-Jigar’s music is decent, but not all songs leave a mark. Background score is on point and creates an impact.

The way the film delivers the message of man-animal conflict without getting preachy, impressed me the most. There’s a clever mention and discussion around stereotypi­ng people from the Northeast as ‘Chinese’ or ‘outsiders’, which fits organicall­y in the story. In these seemingly intense scenes also, the aptly placed humour just lightens up the mood.

Bhediya packs a punch with a lot of impressive elements and is worth watching on the big screen.

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