I, and so many others were braving through the torrential rainfall to reach for the press show of Nitesh Tiwari' directed, Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor starring, Bawaal. But that's just about a half-decent metaphor about the bravery that Ajay aka Ajju (Dhawan) and Nisha's (Kapoor) love story and goes through while having the World War II data acting as another metaphorical backdrop.
The film is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video and available for everyone to view but having had the chance to see the film beforehand, here's what I thought about it that might help you decide on whether to watch the film or not-ALSO READ: Janhvi Kapoor finally unveils her look as Thangam from ‘Devara’; leaves the internet spellbound
The Nitesh Tiwari Touch
After an overwhelmingly underwhelming trailer and the controversy surrounding one glimpse from the teaser, there were almost minimal expectations surrounding the film but the one factor that kept the hopes high was the fact that director Nitesh Tiwari is the man behind it. He wouldn't just back a project that is random, isn't it? And that couldn't be more true after you watch the film. The biggest brownie points that Bawaal scores on is the sheer originality with which it is conceptualized and presented. The uniqueness of the story and then the inclusion of World War II's saga as a metaphor is just a reminder of how originality still prevails.
Tiwari also continues to maximise his knack for humor as we have seen in Chhichhore, Dangal and even Chillar Party in the past. Thanks to Tiwari, for once, the over-the-top demeanor and humor that Varun Dhawan is usually slammed for is not just justified here but actually is funny. That's the difference a good director makes to an actor. Tiwari makes sure to never enter 'dangerous territory' metaphorically while talking about the sheer magnitude of destruction and loss of human lives that Hitler's actions led to during the World War II.
But that's just for you to realise the blossoming story of Ajju and Nisha. It is undoubtedly one of the most fresh and intelligent screenplays of 2023 and it comes from Tiwari and his team of writers that include Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain and Nikhil Mehrotra while the story coming from Ashwini Iyer Tiwari.
Varun Dhawan's Career Best & Janhvi Kapoor's Continued Rise
When it comes to Kapoor, the actor is still in the early years of her career but her choice of films speak volumes about her approach as an actor and Bawaal is yet another illustrious feather on her cap. Playing Nisha with just the right amount of poise, subtlety and compassion, Kapoor makes you love her, adore her and root for her constantly.
However, it would be safe to say that this is Dhawan's career best performance and I say that having seen and loved him in films like Badlapur and October. As Ajju, he is immensely unlikeable from the get-go which makes his character even more interesting.
But inspite of the several questionable things his character does, you are still entirely invested owing to the ounce of innocence and childlike quality that Dhawan displays while portraying Ajju. Together, Dhawan and Kapoor's off-screen friendship transpires into on-screen chemistry as they both compliment each other perfectly well throughout the film.
The World War II Backdrop
It is fascinating how misleading and in this case, not leading anywhere - trailers can be. Bawaal's trailer was the classic misdirection that the makers intended/did not intend. All your assumptions about what exactly and how exactly does World War II play a role in a modern day love story - it is reincarnation? It is flashbacks? But none of your guesses might be remotely correct and in the best possible way. Not to say that it isn't finely shot.
Going monochrome when the flashback scenes arrive which are surrounding to be figments of imagination - the empathy, sadness and care is still prevalent even though it might not entirely be relatable to Indian viewers, who cannot fathom what Paris, Normandy, Berlin etc. went through after Adolf Hitler brutally attacked their homes to capture them. The nuggets of knowledge and information are conveyed in Hindi to make it palatable and have a better connect to Indians while this backdrop and the subtitles will work wonders for the global viewers who will be watching it on Amazon Prime Video. It now made a lot of sense to have a digital release as opposed to a theatrical one, which even if was a worldwide one, would have never reached as many people as it will be with being on a streaming platform giant.
A Few Blanks
Bawaal does suffer through a few blanks in between and one of them is the humor and more so a running gag at the cost of a stereotypical Gujarati family. It isn't offensive as such but does become an overkill after a point of time. And the other factor would still be the World War II backdrop.
While it is done rather well when it comes to the treatment and the instances taken, the metaphor that Tiwari is going for, while understandable isn't entirely convincing. The message is spoken a couple of times bluntly enough and a part of it also connects but the overall impact of the same remains half-cooked.
But the few gaps cannot take away from how incredibly refreshing, amazingly original, immensely entertaining and rather engaging Bawaal is. The pattern of watching it on a streamer might only enhance your experience more and that's yet another huge plus.
Rating - ***1/2 (3.5/5)ALSO READ: Karwa Chauth 2023: A peek into Sidharth-Kiara, Vicky-Katrina, Parineeti-Raghav & others' festivities