‘Bhavesh Joshi Superhero’ review: Not so invincible

A scene from ‘Bhavesh Joshi Superhero’   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Bhavesh Joshi Superhero is set up promisingly. A film in which the titular character is not played by the hero, references Marvel and DC comics and picking up the latter’s “cooler, darker, edgier” world and the real context of India’s anti-corruption movement of 2011 from which emerges the eventually belied hope for parivartan ki lehar (wave of change).

Bhavesh Joshi Superhero
  • Director: Vikramaditya Motwane
  • Cast: Harshvardhan Kapoor, Nishikant Kamath, Priyanshu Painyuli, Ashish Verma
  • Storyline: A group of friends take on the system and fight for justice and a superhero called Bhavesh Joshi is born
  • Runtime: 155.49 minutes

Rajat (Ashish Verma), Sikandar aka Sikku (Harshvardhan Kapoor) and Bhavesh Joshi (Priyanshu Painyuli) bond over idealism. Bhavesh rather naively runs Insaaf TV to bring corruption into spotlight and fight for everyday issues and justice while Sikku is busy chasing the cops to get his passport sorted so that he can fly to Atlanta on a new assignment. Things take a turn when Bhavesh’s innocent enquiry into water shortage in a suburb leads to an institutionalised water crime syndicate. And a John Doe-like superhero of the masses is born out of the urgency for revenge and vigilante justice.

Motwane’s craft is indisputable. The way he sees and presents dark, rainy shadowy Mumbai hit by water woes; the way he keeps alternating between the real and fantastical. Then there’s a mind-bending bike chase across the city and its local trains. Motwane’s superhero is a vulnerable common man. He isn’t endowed with any superhuman powers, gets easily battered and brusied, could well do with the help of a karate champ and instructor next door. He isn’t invincible, his mask could well fall easily.

While the group of youngsters is utterly believable, especially Varma and Painyuli, the bad guys get portrayed with broad brushstrokes. The menace of the main villain feels like a caricature than genuinely fearsome. The dark Mumbai doesn’t seem all that dark then, the idealism seems misplaced and moralistic. Or maybe the issue of corruption itself doesn’t seem scary enough considering how cynical and immured we have become to it.

The film refers to the failure of the Jan Lokpal Andolan. From then to now corruption has also grown manifold and in some ways is more eerily multi-layered than one. In the film the issue feels too flat and tame. Somewhere Motwane gets too self-aware and conscious—be it the genre of superhero cinema he is playing with or the issue of corruption itself. The point gets belaboured and the film too protracted. Yet the irony in the ideas of swachh, bhayamukt Bharat does hit home.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 11:08:11 PM |

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