Synopsis – Bhola, a prisoner, is finally going home after 10 years of imprisonment to meet his young daughter. His journey gets difficult when he is arrested mid-way. At first, he is not aware of the grave situation he has got himself into but after a crazy incident takes place, he must travel a pathway full of crazy obstacles with death lurking around every corner.
My Take – While the trend of remaking every successful film from the South seems to be every Hindi filmmaker’s ultimate destination, at least Ajay Devgn seems determined to make the best out of it.
For his fourth directorial, Ajay Devgn steps in to play the lead in the Hindi remake of writer-director Lokesh Kanagaraj’s 2019 Tamil blockbuster Kaithi, starring Karthi, and gives it his own cinematic spin in the most histrionic way possible, and unleashes as an all-out, no-holds-barred, high-octane mass entertainer we haven’t seen in a while.
Following the familiar template of keeping the crux the same and adding some unwanted clutter, the film retains the original’s life and death urgency, but revises its raw, realistic momentum for a freakish mass tone that will work wonders for action junkies.
Yes, the film has its share of flaws, particularly in its story-telling beats, yet the film manages to hit the right notes because of Ajay Devgn’s intense performance and grand vision.
The story follows Bholaa (Ajay Devgn), a former convict who has just been released from prison after serving a 10-year sentence. With his only aim being to reunite with his daughter, who has been housed in an orphanage all this time.
However, his journey takes a rather difficult course when he is forcefully enlisted by IPS Diana Joseph (Tabu), along with catering hand-turned-navigator, Kadchi (Amir Khan), to drive a truck full of 40 unconscious police officers to a hospital upon falling prey to a conspiracy at a farewell party of her senior officer, and then to a police station manned only by a newly joined constable Angad Yadav (Sanjay Mishra) and a few students.
Earlier, Diana had confiscated a load of cocaine worth 1,000 crores belonging to the Sika Gang, invoking the ire of Ashwathama aka Ashu (Deepak Dobriyal) and his elder brother Nithari, who are ready to go to any extremes to get their cocaine back that she has seized and stored at the British era built Laalganj police station. With multiple gangs out to kill the cops in the truck and capture Diana on the road, Bholaa has no option but turn into an unbeatable force and fight them all.
The film is undoubtedly an exhilarating watch. Director Ajay Devgn stays faithful to Kaithi as far as the core story line is concerned. The difference between these films, however, lies in the execution, while director Lokesh Kanagaraj took his time to build his world and kept the action scenes on the realistic side, director Devgn treats his film as a star vehicle. Each scene builds an aura around the lead character and sets the stage for several whistle-worthy moments.
With the action scenes looking grand and stylish. Though majority of the film is shot at night and it is literally ‘dark’ in its way, the film is so fast-paced that one actually needs time to sink in an action sequence unfold onscreen before the next one comes up.
Here, an engaging screenplay by Aamil Keeyan Khan, Ankush Singh, Sandeep Kewlani and Shriidhar Dubey does the trick. The action scenes one after the other don’t look like disjointed pieces of a puzzle but cleverly placed to keep up the excitement high.
As a film-maker, Devgn is a chip off the old block. The son of veteran action director Veeru Devgan, has a knack for stunt choreography and innovative set pieces, evident in the mountaineering parts of Shivaay (2016) and the airplane thrills of Runway 34 (2022). As a result, the film’s action is its soul holding back your attention till the end. Be it the very John Wick-inspired open contract against the protagonist action sequence or Bholaa thrashing the life of baddies using a trident.
However, the film falls short in its story telling beats. A needless flashback with an additional love track and a love song dilutes whatever myth or mystery it builds around the titular character. Even though the track involving Bhola and his reel daughter adds a touch of tenderness to the inherently violent and dark film. Yet of course, the cliff-hanger climax leaves one super curious about a sequel (if it ever gets made).
Performance wise, Ajay Devgn is in top form and is undoubtedly the heart and soul of the film. He excels in the action scenes and is equally good in the emotional scenes as he uses his eyes to express the character’s anguish. In her third non-stop role as a cop, following Drishyam 2 and Kuttey, Tabu sees comfortable, confident and convincing in uniform more than any other female actor. She is good in a role that requires her to be tough and vulnerable in equal measure. She also makes a decent impact in a couple of action scenes.
Deepak Dobriyal is completely menacing and unbelievably brilliant in his role, managing to shine in some of the film’s most unnerving scenes. Gajraj Rao is almost unrecognizable with the kind of get-up he has and the accent he nails, and he gives his best. Sanjay Mishra proves to be the surprise package here, and delivers a natural and subdued performance.
Vineet Kumar is at his wildest best and deserved more screen time. Amir Khan manages to make you chuckle amid all the chaos. However, Amala Paul is wasted in a small role. On the whole, ‘Bholaa’ is a slick mass entertainer that shines bright with its high-octane action sequences.
Directed – Ajay Devgn
Starring – Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Deepak Dobriyal
Rated – R
Run Time – 144 minutes