Bhediya (2022) Review!!

Synopsis – Set in the forests of Arunachal, Bhediya is a story of Bhaskar, a man who gets bitten by a wolf, and begins to transform into the creature. As Bhaskar and his buddies try to find answers, a bunch of twists, turns, and laughs ensue.

My Take – With the massively successful Stree (2018) launching off producer Dinesh Vijan‘s horror-comedy universe, and the immensely forgettable Roohi (2021) almost immediately killing it, director Amar Kaushik‘s third installment in the series definitely had a lot riding on it. Mainly as it introduces the concept of lycanthrophy aka werewolves to the Indian audience, of course in a blend of folklore with a twist.

Thankfully, backed by some clever writing and some excellent VFX work, he manages to deliver a film that is substantially more than just yet another horror-comedy. Build around the generations old nature vs development debate, here, director Kaushik and writer Niren Bhatt manage to handle both genres skillfully in this latest outing and strike a fine balance to deliver a film that’s spine chilling in some instances, rib tickling in almost all, and in the end leaves you with something to think about.

Though in certain ways, the film is in the same zone as Stree, with ample better elements it manages to stand apart substantially in both substance and style. Led by Varun Dhawan‘s noteworthy led performance, the film rides high on brilliantly placed gags, spooky set pieces and wonderfully shot cinematography of the Arunachal Pradesh forests. Without a doubt, this one is a brave attempt in the creature film sub-genre and deserves a watch on the big screen for its immersive experience.

The story follows Bhaskar (Varun Dhawan), a young ambitious contractor who upon winning a huge assignment arrives at the town of Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh, along with his slow-witted cousin Janardhan (Abhishek Banerjee), to give life to a project that requires cutting a road through the jungle. A road which would transform the place completely. The Delhi duo are joined by a local point person named Jomin (Paalin Kabak), whose job is to help the outsiders convince the local populace about the pressing need for a new road through the forest, and Panda (Deepak Dobriyal), a Nainital native who has lived in Arunachal Pradesh all his life, however, both Bhaskar and Janardhan suspect him of being swayed by an ulterior motive.

But all his supposed well laid out plans go to hell when Bhaskar gets bitten by a wolf. Citing rabies, the bite causes Bhaskar to turns into a wolf himself every full moon night, who in his animal form begins attacking anyone and everyone linked to the project. Putting their trust in Dr. Anika (Kriti Sanon), a veterinarian, who is clearly well out of her league to find a cure, the group are left with no option but to get rid of Bhaskar’s curse as the fatal attacks by the wolf multiply.

The gradual unfolding of sequences throw light on the aftermath of the human body and its transition on being bitten, the element of tribal folklore which worships the werewolf figure as a protector of the forest, a 120-year old healer/ojha who talks about the fine line between nature and culture etc. are all done in a commendable fashion.

Here, director Kaushik’s efforts go beyond being just another werewolf thriller. He creates an immersive experience with his direction and brings the best out of his actors. He understands the tricks of blending the two genres, which is a big challenge, but he aces it.

Writer Niren Bhatt too has done an excellent job especially when it comes one-liners and punch lines. There are times when you’ll be rolling on the floor laughing. References from trending phrases to the use of the iconic theme song the nostalgia ridden ‘jungle jungle baat chali hai, pata chala hai’ to a wolf responding to Himesh Reshammiya‘s Tera Suroor while in boxers on a full moon night is definitely hilarious.

Inserting mention of films such as both Jaani Dushman and Junoon (1992) the one in which Rahul Roy turns into a tiger, brings a great recall value. He explores the fun side of fables and punctuates the storyline with the ironies that life throws at us.  The way the film delivers an important message of man-animal conflict without getting preachy even for a bit, impressed me the most.

And being set in the North East, beneath the frolic, there is a timely debate on who is the outsider and the idea of purity of language. There’s a very clever mention and discussion around stereotyping of people from the Northeast as ‘Chinese’ and ‘outsiders’, which fits so organically in the story and makes you think. But what mostly stands out is the visual experience it offers.

The VFX is perhaps one of the best works we have seen. For the film to work, the werewolf has to not only look menacing but also convincingly real. The graphics team aces this and the first major transformation scene is a big highlight of the film. The film’s visual appeal does full justice to the beauty of Northeast India and its landscapes.

Sure, the film isn’t perfect. The first half of the film progresses at a slow pace and it appears a little stretched in a few scenes, and without a doubt, the film could have done with some trimming especially in the climax. Nevertheless, director Kaushik deserves kudos for smartly using this opportunity to expand a universe where he blends the storylines and characters from his previous film, and opens up the doors of many possibilities in future.

Performance wise, Varun Dhawan gives the unconventional role his best shot, and his efforts here are definitely praiseworthy. Abhishek Banerjee and Paalin Kabak are terrific as much with their comic timing as with their dramatic flourishes. Kriti Sanon is brilliant in her role but her character is extremely undercooked and needed more depth and importance. Deepak Dobriyal is solid as always. On the whole, ‘Bhediya’ is an entertaining horror-comedy that is both enjoyable and thought-provoking.

Directed –

Starring – Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon, Abhishek Banerjee

Rated – PG13

Run Time – 156 minutes

One response to “Bhediya (2022) Review!!

  1. Pingback: 5 Special Bollywood Films of 2022 – A MovizArk Take!!! | Welcome to Moviz Ark!·

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