The other Hindi film of this week is also ‘inspired’ by real-life: the 2008 encounter at Batla House in which two ‘terrorists’ were killed. Doubts about and around the shoot-out were raised at the time, and continue to cloud the event.
But Bollywood is not interested in complexity, clearly. As far as Batla House is concerned, the cops were clearly in the right, and the group of young men holed out in that tiny flat were not ‘students’, as claimed, but armed members of the Indian Mujahideen (IM).
A last-minute plea to stop the release of the film was waived off with the addition of disclaimers on two crucial scenes. But the trouble with Batla House is that the whole film acts like a disclaimer: a sequence has chief cop Sanjeev Kumar Yadav (Abraham) wake up from a nightmare in which he is surrounded by skull-caps, and we know exactly which side the movie is on.
The other problem is that the film is flat. The background score is used to inject drama into everything, right from the initial encounter in which a senior cop (Kishan) is killed, to later escapades in which the team is hot on the heels of a couple of brainwashed radicals-on-the-run. Eventually, everything comes down to a drab courtroom, adorned by a white-wigged, wiggly-browed Sharma.
Abraham is strictly one-note, which may be how dour cops are meant to come off, but it becomes same-same in a screenplay stretched to show off a well-muscled chest. Thakur who displayed a pleasing perkiness in Super 30, is at sea here. Chaudhary as a top cop comes off better. And Kishan, who livens up the film every time he comes on, is dispensed with much too soon.
In other news, Nora Fatehi gets a small speaking part, as well as bump-and-grind number.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines