Bollywood’s quest for real-life drama knocks at the door of Batla House this time. The film finds its protagonist in ACP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav (John Abraham) a real-life key figure in the Delhi Police’s special cell.
Director Nikhil Advani picked up a controversial topic of Indian History and has tried to present the facts as they are without taking sides. Narrating the events of and after the controversial Operation Batla House of Delhi Police Special Cell in which cops shot down two college kids who also happen to be members of a terrorist group, the film rarely leaves out any facts and still turns out to be an entertainer. Today we shall analyse the John Abraham starrer Batla House and shall leave it up to you to finally decide if the film is worth your time.
The movie opens on September 19, 2008. The ACP’s marriage to TV anchor Nandita (Mrunal Thakur) is on the rocks. It is also the day when his sleuths, hot on the trail of the IM bombers, stumbles on a terror cell in the eponymous house in the national capital. Two IM terrorists are killed in the exchange of fire in which a key special cell officer KK (Ravi Kishan) is killed and ACP Kumar left to face the music. As the probe into the encounter gets underway, political sharks smell blood and start circling the troubled waters. ACP Kumar has to save his marriage, solve the case, deliver a spiel against Islamist radicalisation and outwit wily defence attorney Rajesh Sharma (in a hideous barrister’s wig) in the courtroom showdown.
On The Upside
Told through the eyes of an upright ACP, Sanjay Kumar (John Abraham), Nikkhil Advani’s ‘Batla House’ attempts to balance out the narrative without taking any apparent sides. And yet packs in the right dose of patriotism with the story of an honest ACP at its centre. Paced like a thriller, for the most part, the film stays true to the genre. Batla House plays out like a taut film with the tension entwined throughout, leaving you with knots in the stomach. The brilliantly choreographed action and chase sequences ensure several edges of the seat moments.
Talking about performances there is no doubt this is John Abraham’s film all the way, he is well cast in the role of a committed ACP, who is a man of few words, and arguably gives his career’s best so far. Even his strained relationship with his wife Nandita (Mrunal Thakur) and his internal angst are etched out effectively. It’s an all-consuming role and John Abraham nails the body language and the intensity. Mrunal Thakur as the journalist wife to a cop delivers a believable performance. But Rajesh Sharma as the defence lawyer takes the cake here as he is fabulous in the role.
On The Downside
Where Batla House falters is in the second half, when the proceedings slacken with the courtroom drama slowing it down further. Despite some clap worthy dialogues making it there. And some of the complexities and nuances are filtered down. Nora Fatehi’s dance number seems a force fit in an otherwise grim narrative, though her character is weaved in well.
All In All
Despite some of the flaws, ‘Batla House’ makes for a gripping, intense watch. We’re giving it 3 out of 5 stars. The film and the subject matter is worth attention and to present such a topic in an entertaining way is not an easy feat.