Director: Nitesh Tiwari
Cast: Varun Dhawan,Janhvi Kapoor
Rating: 4 / 5
‘The film has its heart in the right place’ – this is an overused phrase we often hear and read in movie reviews. However, after watching Nitesh Tiwari’s Bawaal, I believe it fits well in the context of this Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor starrer slice-of-life drama. The director is known for portraying a human story, emotions and journey in its most authentic way, and this one has Nitesh Tiwari written all over it.
Set in Lucknow, India, Ajay Dixit (Varun Dhawan) has trojan-horsed his life into fairytale perfection with a respectable job, spectacular appearance, strong standing in the society, and a beautiful wife. His decision to marry an educated and pretty Nisha (Janhvi Kapoor) also stemmed from his desire for an upliftment in his social position. However, this image conscious history teacher’s plan goes for a toss when his wife does not exactly match his ideal description of perfection. This coincides with a setback at work, and Ajju bhaiya’s falsely created flawless image hits a roadblock. To rectify this complication, Ajay and Nisha leave for a trip to Europe tracing World War 2, unbeknownst of the fact that a few life lessons await them in the continent. Now what these lessons do for the Couple is for you to watch in this Sajid Nadiadwala, Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and Prime Video backed Bawaal.
We often hear people say ‘story is the king’, and in the case of Bawaal it truly is. It’s not an easy script to narrate, unravel and explain in execution, but kudos to director Nitesh for bringing it alive on screen with his empathetic, non-judgemental vision. He has co-written with Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, Nikhil Mehrotra, Piyush Gupta and Shreyas Jain, and the team has brought their A game forward for this impactful tale of perception and redemption.
Having said that, the most important ingredient of cinema is entertainment, and the makers are able to achieve that in Bawaal, while also making a statement on pivotal topics such as the education system, way of teaching, empty marriages and the impact of societal pressures on it, deception, friendship and parenting. Some of these have been conveyed upfront, and a few have been subtly plugged in to read in between the lines.
While the first half of Bawaal largely relies on comedy of all kinds, the latter part is more emotionally driven, serving something for everyone who seeks balanced content driven by all sorts of narrative tools including drama, intense emotions, satire, romance, and history. There is also a funny sequence involving a Gujarati family, and while Nitesh and his writers do play up on caricature but at no point it comes across as offensive or forced. It’s rather endearing when you watch it.
On the technical front, cinematographer Mitesh Mirchandani beautifully captures the world of Bawaal through his lens, production designer Aditya Kanwar lives up to the vision of his director, Daniel B. George’s background music is in sync with the emotions portrayed on the screen, while Mukesh Chhabra’s casting for each character is bang on.
Last but not the least, for me the most genuine part of the film was Nitesh and his writers questioning their own script by adding an element that tests a teaching pattern they propagate via the movie. That additional sequence adds genuinity to the approach, and affirms the intention of the story and the filmmaker.
This is not so much of a criticism of the ready product, but if the same story of Bawaal was set against the backdrop of Indian history, I believe it would have appealed to a larger theater going audience. Furthermore, the approx 2 hour 18 minutes run time could have been brought down by a few minutes, while the song music composed by Mithoon, Tanishk Bagchi and Akashdeep Sengupta could have been more memorable.
Varun Dhawan’s character has an emotional arc that he beautifully portrays on screen, making redemption an earnest emotion to feel via his character. Janhvi Kapoor’s subtle yet impactful performance leaves a mark, making Nisha her best screen outing so far. Both of them even make a good onscreen pair, making it a collaboration I would like to see in the future as well. Though my favorite characters from Bawaal are Ajju’s endearing parents, effortlessly played by Manoj Pahwa and Anjuman Saxena.
A must mention of all the kids too who have been a part of Bawaal. They have all played their part so well, and a large credit for it should also go to Nitesh Tiwari, who always brings out the best from child actors – whether it was in Chillar Party, Dangal, and now in Bawaal.
If you are looking for quality content which entertains as well as makes you think, then look no further. Nitesh Tiwari’s Bawaal, headlined by Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor promises that, and much more…