Bhuj: The Pride of India
Director: Abhishek Dudhaiya
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha, Sharad Kelkar, Nora Fatehi
Two war films – based on real incidents – were released on OTT platforms ahead of Independence Day, thus making this comparison inevitable. While one is Shershaah, featuring Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani, the other is Bhuj: The Pride of India which has an ensemble cast of Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha, Sharad Kelkar and Nora Fatehi.
The biggest difference between the two films is the level of jingoism. While Shershaah steered cleared from jingoism and useless chest-thumping, Bhuj: The Pride of India is full of “desh ke liye shaheed hona” dialogues, caricaturish portrayal of the enemy (Pakistani army and ISI) and oversimplification of a complex mission.
The Independence Day weekend release takes a slice out of the 1971 India-Pakistan war. It follows IAF Squadron leader Vijay Karnik (Ajay Devgn) who ensured India’s victory by re-constructing the Bhuj air base along with the help of 300 women from a local village in Madhapar.
Right from the beginning, the film is a confusing mess with shoddy editing and even repulsing background score and some tacky VFX. Things you have seen before, even in duds like Paltan or LOC: Kargil, are repeated. It’s the same set of ghisa-pita (stale) situations. Lackluster writing coupled with poor research and execution makes the film unintentionally hilarious and boring.
The actors, I wouldn’t blame much — they hardly have any material to play with. Ajay Devgn, who can elevate any script with his performance, practically sleepwalks through his part and still manages to be the best thing in the movie. But then again, what were the options — Sanjay Dutt, who is channeling his inner Sunny Deol from Gadar: Ek Prem Katha. The latter wiped off hundreds of Pakistanis with a hand pump, while Dutt tries to do the same with a mere axe. Of course it would be difficult to find a hand pump in the desert (pun intended). The usually reliable Sharad Kelkar tries hard too but fails badly.
Sonakshi Sinha, who makes an appearance in the final 30 minutes, hardly has any role and surely deserved better. Nora Fatehi, who otherwise plays an eye candy, makes you wonder about her presence in the film. I pity Pranitha Subhash who plays Devgn’s wife in the film and doesn’t have a single dialogue.
In the end, the film, which has a run time of 120 minutes, feels long and boring. There is nothing to be proud of Bhuj: The Pride of India. Instead I would recommend watching Shershaah this weekend.
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