Victor Mukherjee’s Lakadbaggha is a comic book-style action film that follows an animal lover who becomes a vigilante to protect street dogs from a big racket smuggling drugs through dead animals. The racket is also behind dog meat being sold as mutton or chicken. The vigilante starts to beat up goons hurting dogs. The state police squirm and the case is transferred to the CBI.
Anshuman Jha plays Arjun Bakshi, the animal-lover vigilante. He works as a courier boy and teaches martial arts to kids. He was trained in the Israeli martial art form Krav Maga by his deceased father (Milind Soman). Wearing his trademark hoodie, Arjun has his headphones on and roams about with a Walkman in his hands. Anshuman plays this awkward, introverted guy with sincerity. There’s hardly a scene where Arjun looks someone in the eye. Everything about him is a sign of deep loneliness, which he prefers to call solitude.
There’s an instant attraction between Arjun and Akshara D’Souza (Ridhi Dogra), the CBI officer assigned to investigate the vigilante’s heroics. Ridhi makes a confident big-screen debut. There’s a sense of brokenness behind her beautiful face and strong cop personality.
Paresh Pahuja plays Aryan, the man behind the smuggling of drugs and animals. The debutante cop-turned-actor Eksha Kerung plays Aryan’s nameless assassin. There’s also Kharaj Mukherjee as the owner of the courier service centre where Arjun works.
The action in Lakadbaggha is well-designed and very well-performed. If you like hand-to-hand combat, you’re going to like the Krav Maga moves in this film. The action in the climax works the best. There is one shot which I thought could have been cut earlier only because I anticipated what happened next. It might just work fine for many.
Jean-Marc Selva’s cinematography keeps things intimate and lived-in. The film is shot entirely with a hand-held camera and in real locations, giving an impression of constant movement and uncertainty. The musical score by Simon Fransquet lingers on and grows on you through the film.
Written by Alok Sharma, the narrative is slow burn. And that’s where the film falters. I’m game for slow-burn narratives but it feels like the plot has been thinly structured when the pace slackens. The scenes leading up to the romance between Ridhi and Anshuman are weakly written and hence awkwardly performed.
Overall, there’s a lot to appreciate and a few things to criticise in Lakadbaggha. Does it make it worth viewing? Of course.