Bhaiyya Ji Movie Review: This Manoj Bajpayee actioner is more paper tiger, less hidden dragon

Bhaiyya Ji Movie Review: This Manoj Bajpayee actioner is more paper tiger, less hidden dragon

The slow-motion shots, the threats, and the background music are all hell-bent on convincing you something explosive is incoming. But it never does
Bhaiyya Ji (2 / 5)

A lot of rousing has been done before the first action scene in Bhaiyya Ji comes. Manoj Bajpayee, in the titular role, has already unsheathed his spade, dusted off his jeep and sparked his beedi. A literal sun sign has been sent to every gang in the area. A ‘beware’: Bhaiyya Ji is back to violence. A character, in a close-up shot, has already described him as ‘Robinhood ka baap (Robinhood’s father).’The legend has been built and I am confused whether the hair raising on my arms is a result of what’s being shown or what’s being heard (The background music is quite blaring). But more on that later. Our hero is standing on a bridge now, drenching under a cinematic rain. Rowdies are running towards him. Time for some good-old pratishodh (revenge).

Directed by: Apoorv Singh Karki

Starring: Manoj Bajpayee, Suvinder Vicky, Zoya Hussain, Jatin Goswami, Vipin Sharma

 Bhaiyya Ji lets out a war cry. Here it comes. You almost want to jump off the seat and do some shadow boxing. Go get them. And then our hero gets stabbed in the waist. What is more assaulting, comes after. An action sequence, so unimaginative and underwhelming I could pin-point its choreography. The mechanics of it, as staged as a 3D war model. I am secretly relieved when Bhaiyya Ji is finally shot and he falls into the river below (patchy CGI). Another one bites the dust, or water in this case.

The one whose body will not be found is Ram Charan Tripathi, aka Bhaiyya Ji, a strongman from Bihar, with a bloody past. We meet him at a celebration, an event leading up to his long pending marriage. His younger brother Vedang (Akash Makhija) is on a video call, on the way back home from Delhi. You know he won’t make it.  

The killer is Abhimanyu Singh (Jatin Goswami), son of Chander Bhan Singh (Suvinder Vicky), another baahubali (strongman). The altercation between Bhaiyya Ji’s brother and Chander Bhan’s son was over a plate of aloo paratha (So Delhi) and now Bhaiyya Ji is out for revenge. No request, only rampage. A son for a brother.

And a lot of melodrama. The film is directed by Apoorv Singh Karki, who made court arguments look like gladiator matches in his debut film Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai. I expected some of that energy, that old-school dialogue-baazi in Bhaiyya Ji, but what we get are scenes dripping with so much sentimentality that they stop registering. The slow-motion shots, the threats, and the background music are all hell-bent on convincing you something explosive is incoming. But it never does. The build-up takes you on a high but loses steam even before it reaches its summit.

Most of Bhaiyya Ji is all bark and no-bite (In a scene, Abhimanyu suggests that Ram Charan shouldn’t be called with respect, he should be called kutta (dog)). When we get down to the showdown, the editing is haphazard. The action is more camp than kitsch. As the story dawdles, the film becomes more and more absurd. Characters exhibit secret skills which are explained via flashbacks. Actually, a lot of narrative building is done in flashbacks, for instance Bhaiyya Ji’s love for his brother, Vedang’s relationship with his mother. You facepalm and let your hand stay over your eyes for long because it has become unbearable to experience what is unfolding on the screen. The narrative resorts to exposition to fill up gaps in the screenplay. I even spotted a continuity error during the climax (Focus on Abhimanyu’s clothes).

Last month, Fahadh Faasil was ‘re-introduced’ as a fun, charismatic gangster in Jithu Madhavan’s Aavesham. I expected a similar approach for Bajpayee in Bhaiyya Ji. The art film icon, reborn as the Bihari, massy action-hero. The narrative inconsistencies render Bajpayee’s earnest performance laughable. Suvinder Vicky, as the hawky-villain, tries to maintain a straight face. But it is impossible to prevent Bhaiyya Ji’s nosedive into mediocrity. Like a balloon, it rises with the threat of a burst but slips out of control soon, flying off with a squeal.

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