With a swag of his own, he is the product of a carefully constructed image. Arre, Ajjubhai (Varun Dhawan as Ajay Dikshit) riding his Royal Enfield would’ve been in the army or been a Collector, he’d have been a cricketer or he’d have been whatever if only… The tales about his genius are many. The truth is, he’s an average Joe, teaching history in the local school in Lucknow. He does that too insincerely and inefficiently, his insecurities eternally eating him from within. ‘The world may be impressed but he himself is depressed,’ runs the commentary.
Marrying the smart, educated Nisha (Janhvi Kapoor) from a well-settled business family was one more step in enhancing his image.
She is the polar opposite of him. Forthright and independent but invested in holding on to the hope that Ajju will turn a new leaf one day. Until then, her life as Ajju’s wife is like the sun has hidden itself behind a dark cloud. For she suffers from occasional bouts of epilepsy and Ajju wants no marital relations with such a “defective piece” who might get her “vibrating pose” in public and embarrass him. Divorce is no option, it would dent Ajju’s well-built public image.
Relationship stories with a happy ending have been many.
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s story with screenplay and dialogues by Nikhil Mehrotra, Shreyas Jain, Piyush Gupta and director Nitesh Tiwari, is unique in the way Ajju is reformed. It takes a trip to Europe to live-study World War 2, for Ajju to learn how to battle the war within. There’s even a takeaway from Hitler’s life – that image doesn’t make a man.
Far-fetched? It sure is unless you can look at it as a metaphor, a mirror to fighting the battle within each person. Perhaps equating the enormity of the WW2 genocide with something as micro as Ajju’s life is also ambitiously unbalanced. But it works as a sweet social message.
There are unfortunate inefficiencies in the screenplay. Except for one dissenting colleague who sees through Ajju’s fakery, how is everybody else fooled by a teacher who is so obviously not teaching his students?
It is also a bit too convenient that Ajju awakens when an Auschwitz survivor has precisely the same tale to narrate as his own – a husband who didn’t raise his hand on his wife but bought her no flowers and took her nowhere until it was too late for redemption.
The last scene where Ajju gets preachy should have been avoided as it labours over a point already made several times.
One more beef is that the background songs have no carry-back value, they are so without melody.
There’s a range laid out for Varun Dhawan, from comedy to deep contemplation, and he’s sincere. Though his performance in last year’s Bhediya was far more intense. Janhvi Kapoor has an unspoken sadness in her eyes that’s effective when she’s hurt.
So, should you watch Bawaal? Fortunately, it’s on OTT and you don’t have to make a trip to the theatre to catch this one-time watch.
Watch Bawaal Trailer: