A GRIPPING THRILLER ‘BATLA HOUSE’ IS ONE QUALITY FILM

Rating: 4/5
Director Nikkhil Advani appears with a meaty thriller on a controversial subject in an attempt to clear the air

When an event has been all over the news for a significant period of time, the film doesn’t come as a surprise. Making this however the biggest advantage at disposal, D-Day maker weaves in curiosity right from the time of it’s announcement. Batla House has a controversial subject for the variety of opinions it has around it, something that the film calls attention for. A minor letdown is still the fact that the attempt to come clean isn’t accomplished to the fullest. Also remember, this isn’t a film for all.

Batla House, hindi, review, film, 2019
Director Nikkhil Advani with John Abraham on sets (image source: bollywoodhungama.com)
PLOT

The film is based on the disputed Batla House encounter case that happened in Jamia Nagar of New Delhi in 2008 followed by terror attacks in the Indian capital a week earlier.

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STORY/SCREENPLAY/GENERAL

Ritesh Shah’s writing is full of substance. The way he has covered all the aspects of the real incident into the script is commendable. Right from the time or terror attacks to how the encounter takes place to the enquiry on the investigation officer, debates around what is wrong and what not, media reports, fight for survival and the quest for truth- have all been categorically incorporated into the screenplay. Why this helps is because even those who are not aware of the case are given a complete understanding.

The screenplay delves deep into the police proceedings internally and how the enquiry into the case affects them and their psyche. The protagonist here is haunted by the killings and his internal conflict is more to be felt psychologically than seen. The narrative structure is ultimate of how things play on screen event by event. It has a flow that keeps you invested with interest. This however holds true for the fans of the genre. It’s not a very fast screenplay and you will be fixated only if you have loved the genre unconditionally.

Batla House, film, review, hindi, 2019
Ravi Kishan with John Abraham on sets (image source: indiawest.com)

The makers have managed to create scenes with palpable tension. Not all through, but across significant portion of the film.

Where the film falters to some extent is about the section of society that has accepted that it was Delhi Police’s fault. At times, only because of this narrative in public domain and media reports, you feel that the film is taking sides. The righteousness associated with the lead may also seem uncalled for.

PERFORMANCE

John Abraham in the lead is powerful. Hats off to him first for choosing roles over the years that accentuate his persona. Modeled on one of the most decorated police officers Sanjeev Kumar Yadav, his character gives meaning to the plot in its complete length and breadth. Abraham gives you such amazing time watching the film that you start feeling one with the part he plays. Probably his best performance till date. You feel goosebumps seeing him in action and you also feel his turmoil deep down when he suffers in mind. Awesome. A treat to watch him.

Mrunal Thakur has a brief but strong role and she leaves no stone unturned to make you believe firmly in her act. She at times comes across as over, but overall it’s okay. She has a say, not only in the plot but also for the characters within the frame.

Ravi Kishan is also very good in his limited boundaries of performance. His is a smartly written role and he performs ably.

Batla House, hindi, film, review, 2019
On sets of the film (image source: uttarpradesh.org)

Manish Chaudhary is also very powerful. He brings in a certain depth to the overall cast characterization.

OTHER TECHNICALITIES

Songs as whole form a wholesome album giving the film the depth and soul. The songs lift your sense well and act as catalyst in smooth transition of the scenes. Background score by John Stewart Eduri is marvelously placed. The film gives you chills when needed, makes you emotional when it’s time, and also fills you with pride when there is the requirement. All through justified score.

The film is visually enticing and captures your attention firmly. Thanks to the awe-inspiring cinematography by Saumik Mukherjee. Not only are the compositions well placed, but also the lighting, motion values, and colors assigned to various scenes marks the genius. Production design too is very real and suited to the place and time the film is set in. A shout out also to the costume and make-up team for creating characters that you can easily connect to.

Maahir Zaveri has edited the film beautifully giving it a narrative worth applauding. The film gets into non-linear mode often and it’s been done smartly. You are excited, interested, and thoroughly invested.

It’s only one minor-turned-major aspect where the film falls back to an extent, and that’s the fact that should have been taken care of. As a film, it’s a spectacular work of art. The moment you think of the clarity angle, you will be left unsatiated. So, did the film do any good after all? It does attempt well. Watch out for the nicely crafted climax.

Rochak Saxena

Rochak Saxena a Mass Media Teacher, former journalist at DNA and an ardent lover of Hindi films - literally. The blog derives its name from the popular term ‘Willing Suspension of Disbelief’, most commonly used in the world of literature and cinema. Meaning to immerse yourself in an unreal world (where you know what you see on screen is fake) with a self-proclaimed/declared belief/wish to consider it real, the willing world becomes magical. It’s the same magic every Friday that drives Rochak to share things in the perspective that it needs to be observed with. Every film is different. And the difference needs to be cherished.

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