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regular-article-logo Sunday, 23 June 2024

Bhaiyya Ji: Even Manoj Bajpayee can’t save Apoorv Singh Karki’s melodramatic actioner

The action drama marks the 100th film in Manoj Bajpayee’s filmography

Agnivo Niyogi Calcutta Published 30.05.24, 02:35 PM
Manoj Bajpayee in Bhaiyya Ji.

Manoj Bajpayee in Bhaiyya Ji. X

When Manoj Bajpayee announced he was returning to his action avatar for his 100th film, Bhaiyya Ji, it got us excited. But Apoorv Singh Karki’s action drama doesn’t have the magic that Satya (1998) and Shool (1999) created around Bajpayee.

In Bhaiyya Ji, Bajpayee plays Ram Charan aka Bhaiyya Ji, a former vigilante who swore off violence after a family tragedy but is now forced to retrace his footsteps.

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The film begins with the death of a young boy, Vedant (Akash Makhija), outside the Delhi railway station during a confrontation with armed bullies over a meal of parathas. The man who runs over him with his car is Abhimanyu Singh (Jatin Goswami), whose father Chandrabhan Singh (Suvinder Vicky), a ganglord, uses his political clout to hush up the incident. Vedant’s elder brother Ram Charan gets the news of his death a few days later.

Once the funeral rites are over, Ram Charan’s stepmother (Bhageerathi Bai Kadam) prods him to take up arms once again and avenge Vedant’s death. Ram Charan heads to Chandrabhan’s swanky mansion in Delhi to demand justice in the most dramatic way possible — he whips out a medallion with the insignia of a lion and carries it across the village, causing a stir and making the villagers quiver in fear.

As the medallion makes its grand tour, supporters drop everything, shut their shops and rally around Bhaiyya Ji. Bajpayee’s voiceover recounts how he once ruled the land as Bhaiyya Ji, the local Robin Hood, but gave up the path of violence after his father was killed in a gang war.

Once Chandravaan and Bhaiyya Ji come face to face, a series of clashes follows. Bullets are fired, cars fly. Bhaiyya Ji is grievously injured and is nursed back to health by his fiancee (played by Zoya Hussain).

Karki, who directed Bajpayee in last year’s release Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai, gives him a larger-than-life aura. The film follows the Telugu mass hero cinema template, evident in the treatment, over-the-top dialogues, melodrama and slow-motion sequences. But the execution doesn’t match up and the emotional scenes veer towards the comical. The only striking element is the action choreography.

Bajpayee embraces the script's mediocrity and plays the character with abandon, making it as believable as possible. Sporting a lean look, he pulls off stunts like leaping from rooftops and taking on a bunch of men all by himself despite being wounded.

Zoya Hussain impresses as Ram Charan’s fiancee in the climax, joining the action as a sniper. Suvinder Vicky is menacing as the megalomaniac ganglord but his performance is nowhere close to what he delivered as sub-inspector Balbir Singh in Kohrra last year. Vipin Sharma, who plays a corrupt cop, injects humour in intense moments.

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