Bawaal Movie Review: It is quite strange to think that in this day and time, a filmmaker can use something as substantial as the Second World War and as sensitive as the Holocaust as a metaphor for a troubled marriage. However, it is already there and we have it streaming on one of the largest platforms in the world- Amazon Prime Video- with seasoned actors like Varun Dhawan, Manoj Pahwa and Janhvi Kapoor.
Bawaal opens on an almost good note. It stars Varun Dhawan as Ajay or “Ajju Bhaiya”, an insanely image conscious narcissist who works as a history teacher at a school in Lucknow. His life purpose aims at keeping his image intact and he has a certain “aura” due to which everyone around him likes him instantly. He can disguise his appearance and qualities to make the people around him develop a positive feeling towards him.
Bawaal Movie Review:
Augmenting his image consciousness is Janhvi Kapoor’s Nisha, an extremely pretty and intelligent girl hailing from a business family background thus giving Ajay what he wants- an educated and pretty wife and a family that improves his social status.
Ajju displays the perfect, kind-hearted gentleman who has tricks up his sleeve to make Nisha fall for him. Blinded by her appearance and status, Ajju neglects the fact that Nisha has epilepsy because of which she gets fits.
Unpredictability is not a feature of the plot, so it happens that Nisha gets an epileptic episode on the night of their wedding. Ajju sees this and gets horrified contemplating the fact that if this happens in public, his so-called reputation will be destroyed in society.
Thus begins the strained relationship between the two couples and the distance between them increases every day. Due to his frustration stemming from household issues, Ajay slaps a kid who happened to be an MLA’s son, when he asks him a question about World War II. He finds himself and his job in danger as the MLA plans to take revenge on him because of his behaviour. Up until this point, although with a little substance, Bawaal was able to build a reasonable plot. However, after this, it all goes downhill as Ajju plans to take a trip to Europe to teach his students about the Second World War live from the locations- all of it to save his image.
Bawaal opens just like another Bollywood comic, with light humour, a bit of slapstick comedy and a plot that makes a little sense but can be put up with just for the sake of being a comedy movie. This is where the filmmakers lost their direction and went as far as to compare the troubled relation between the couples to the second world war and the holocaust.
Bawaal has been called out for using a subject as sensitive as the holocaust as a mere metaphor for a troubled relationship- and it is entirely true. The banal trivialisation of an event as tragic as the holocaust is visible to the viewers. At one point in the movie, Nisha calls everyone a little bit like Hitler, since we follow our greed too.
There is no chemistry between the main leads. Even in their fights as a married couple, the spark or fury which evolves from a relationship seems absent. It reminded me of Varun Dhawan and Kiara Advani’s onscreen chemistry in Jug Jugg Jeeyo which also depicted a strained relationship between the two and their good chemistry, it came off much better than this. Jahnvi Kapoor looks out of place in the movie. She is lost in her own role and is given terrible dialogues to fade the charm of her role further. Varun Dhawan is not the perfect choice for a coming-of-age movie too however the actor gave his best to execute the character well.
However, things get worse in the end when Nisha and Ajju are shown in a gas chamber surrounded by naked men who are slowly dying. They are calling each other and trying to find one another in the chaotic chamber. I have no idea what impact it had for the audience or what the filmmaker was thinking when adding this scene to the movie. Parallel to it as an Auschwitz survivor who has the same troubled marriage as Ajju and uses the same word as he did in the beginning to draw parallels between them.
What similarity can you draw between a couple in a concentration camp being the victim of one of the largest genocide and a couple from Lucknow whose biggest issues are epilepsy and narcissism is left for the audience to think.
Bawaal had tried too hard to employ a vision bigger than the movie however it ended up badly trivialising a sensitive event and still not making sense of what it initially envisioned.
Bawaal is truly insensitive. It is no wonder that a Jewish organisation asked for it to be taken down. There is no limitation to art and creativity, however, there are certain boundaries to sensitivity. Bawaal had the potential to be a really good movie if they removed the concept of the holocaust from it and added a metaphor that fits better to the context. Did you watch Bawaal? Let us know in the comment section what you thought about the movie. Hope you liked reading Bawaal review.