Review: Bhuj: The Pride of India depicts an incredible story from Indian history. The performances are excellent, the thriller level rises in the second half, and the upbeat climax is the high point of the film. Rating : 3.5 stars
Bhuj: The Pride of India is the story of an incredible chapter in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. The persecution of residents of East Pakistan by the Pakistani army in 1971 resulted in the death of millions. Innumerable people migrate to India to escape the murders. Therefore India also joins this conflict and deploys most of its soldiers on the eastern border. Taking advantage of this situation, Pakistan starts attacking India’s defense base on the western side. On 8 December 1971, the Pakistan Air Force suddenly strikes the Bhuj airbase, leaving Commanding Officer Vijay Karnik (Ajay Devgan) and everyone else in a stunner. Many people lost their lives in this attack and the airstrip was also badly damaged. Meanwhile, Pakistan also destroys the Surajbari and Banaskatha bridges and five major roads leading to Bhuj. As a result, Bhuj and Kutch are cut off from the rest of the country. Indian Air Force aircraft also cannot land as the runway has been destroyed and the engineers who repaired it have fled. Meanwhile the Pakistani Army has started moving towards Bhuj and is planning to capture the entire area. The only solution to this problem is to repair the runway overnight at any cost. What happens next will be known after watching the rest of the film.
The story of Abhishek Dudhaiya, Raman Kumar, Ritesh Shah and Pooja Bhavoria is fascinating and most people don’t even know about it. Most of the viewers will be surprised to know that such incident happened and common citizens also helped the army in the war. The screenplay by Abhishek Dudhaiya, Raman Kumar, Ritesh Shah and Pooja Bhavoria is mixed. The story doesn’t develop much in the first half. But in the second half the writer shows his talent. The climax is specially made with a lot of thought. The dialogues (additional dialogues by Manoj Muntashir) by Abhishek Dudhaiya, Raman Kumar, Ritesh Shah and Pooja Bhavoria are appreciable. Ajay’s monologue while explaining to the villagers is heart touching.
Abhishek Dudhaiya’s direction has some flaws but overall it is fine. Talking about the merits, he handles the scale of the film very well. Some of the dramatic and action sequences are handled well and this adds to the impact as well. In addition, some one-take action sequences add to the entertainment. The climax of the film is curious and it really takes the film to a different level. Now talking about the shortcomings of the film, the characters are not explained well. The introduction of all the main characters is very quick. For a layman, storing so much information would be too much. Apart from this, many scenes have been cut from place to place to reduce the length of the film which is easy to understand. There is no room for logic in many action sequences. The public will love the scene of Ranchhod in the ditch in the climax but it is difficult to digest. Also, there are some interesting scenes in the first half but overall, it fails to make the desired impact.
The first 5 minutes of Bhuj: The Pride of India explain the context through a montage as well as begin with a scene of Pakistani officials discussing their wicked plan. It gets a little over right after that but helps understand the struggle. The scene of the attack on Bhuj airbase is shocking but soon the film goes into flashback mode. Here, too many characters are introduced and this too seems a bit overkill. Heena Rehmani’s (Nora Fatehi) track comes as a huge relief. His One Take Mirror action scene is one of the best in the film. In the second half, there is a definite ‘pause’ in the story. Also the introduction of Sundarben (Sonakshi Sinha) adds a lot to the film. The best scenes of the film are reserved for the last 20-25 minutes, out of which the airplane landing scene wins.
Ajay Devgan has played a one dimensional character. But performance-wise, he is first-rate and raises the level of some scenes. His slo-mo walk in particular is quite exciting and would have created a ruckus in theatres. Sanjay Dutt also plays a character whose back story is not explained properly, but still fits his role, especially in the fight scenes. Sonakshi Sinha entered late but she is the surprise of the film. Nora Fatehi mesmerizes with her acting and action. His action sequence is one of the main attraction. Sharad Kelkar (RK Nair) is as dependable as ever. Ammy Virk (Vikram Singh Baz) looks good and gives his best. Pranitha Subhash (Usha), Ihana Dhillon (RK Nair’s wife) and Mahesh Shetty (Lakshman) don’t get much scope. Navni Parihar (Indira Gandhi) is fair. The actors who play General Yahya Khan, Heena Rehmani’s husband Mohammad Hussain Omani, Wing Commander AA Sahu, Mukhtar Baig and Taimur Rizvi are fine.
The music is fine and there is not much scope for songs. In fact, some songs like ‘Rammo Rammo’, ‘Bhai Bhai’ and even the famous ‘Zalima Coca Cola’ track are missing. ‘Hanjugam’ is forgettable but ‘Desh Mere’ touches the heart. The devotional song by Sonakshi Sinha (“O Ishwar Malik Hi Daata”) is powerful but feels a bit out of place. Amar Mohile’s background score is superb.
Aseem Bajaj’s cinematography is impressive. Some shots are handled exceptionally. In the case of heroines, Archana Mishra’s costumes look genuine and glamorous. Narendra Rahurikar’s production design is elaborate. The action of RP Yadav and Peter Hein is gripping and captivating. NY VFXwala’s VFX is of a decent standard. Some scenes were not good but overall, the VFX team deserves praise. Dharmendra Sharma’s editing is a bit sharp and haphazard.
Overall, Bhuj: The Pride of India depicts an incredible story from Indian history. The performances are excellent, the thriller level rises in the second half, and the upbeat climax is the high point of the film. A film made on this scale should have been released in theatres as it is full of large scale sequences which would create tremendous craze among the audience.