Bhooloham: A boxing drama that lacks punch

In sports dramas, there’s one moment when you are shown the knockout table, which pretty much tells you how the film’s going to pan out from there. It’s almost like a roadmap of things to come with the remaining screen-time divided between the number of opponents the protagonist (or his team) has to face to reach the final battle. Right at the start of Bhooloham, we’re told that our hero, Bhooloham (Jayam Ravi), needs to beat just three boxers—a local champion, a national champion and mystery international champion—to win the title. Three seems like a decent number of fight sequences to have in the film, with each opponent receiving enough time to make himself look believable and fearsome. Seeing them, one should be convinced that they indeed pose a threat to our hero. Yet, in Bhooloham, we sit through the fight sequences knowing beyond doubt that these fighters stand no chance against our hero.

This invincibility isn’t just the fault of the writing. It’s also because, at its core, Bhooloham isn’t a sports drama at all. It’s as much a film about a commoner taking on a million-dollar corporation; like Erin Brockovich. Bhooloham’s main opponent isn’t really the seven-foot-tall psychotic boxer, Steven George (Nathan Jones). It’s actually the much shorter media moghul Deepak (Prakash Raj) and his brand of crony capitalism.

The film revolves around an IPL-like tournament meant to take boxing to the masses. To heighten the tournament’s reach, like in many reality shows, the show’s head, Deepak, begins to play god and treats the participants as puppets to gain in TRP ratings, with little regard to the damage caused to the participants’ lives. There’s a terrific pre-interval scene where Bhooloham, after having given up boxing, is brought back to the sport following an elaborate conspiracy. However, the most thrilling encounter in the film is a verbal duel between Bhooloham and Deepak that happens across a negotiation table, quite far away from the boxing ring.

It is from here that the film begins to fall apart. The changes Bhooloham’s character goes through—from a violent boxer, to a harmless saint to a boxer again—happen so fast that he comes across as fickle rather than a guy who’s changed by his circumstances. So, when he begins to preach against the evils of capitalism, we’ve lost almost all connection with his confusing character. And by the time we get to the final duel, we’re hardly interested in its outcome. Instead, we wonder if Deepak, given the enormous hype surrounding the final fight, stands to lose anything at all.Ironically, for a film that stands against greedy media organisations taking advantage of humans for TRP ratings, there’s a particularly regressive love track involving Sindhu (Trisha). She, being a big fan of Bhooloham, sports several tattoos of him all over her body. One of Bhooloham’s pet obsessions is uncovering Sindhu’s clothing, one by one, to catch a glimpse of these tattoos.

WWE-star Nathan Jones, who plays the caricaturish side-villain, Steven George, is yet another example in a long line of foreign actors performing terribly in Indian films. Shouldn’t these actors be put through auditions before being chosen for such important roles?

As it stands, Bhooloham seems much older than a film delayed by a couple of years. After Thani Oruvan, the stage was set for Jayam Ravi to move a few notches up the ladder of stardom. But Bhooloham doesn’t even give him a fighting chance.

Genre: Sports drama

Director: Kalyanakrishnan

Cast: Jayam Ravi, Trisha Krishnan, Prakash Raj

Storyline: A boxer needs to win a tournament to avenge the death of his coach

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 11:08:40 PM |

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