‘BHUJ: THE PRIDE OF INDIA’ | 13 August, 2021

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Ajay Devgn Ffilms, T-Series and Select Media Holdings LLP’s Bhuj: The Pride Of India is a film which is based on a real-life story. It is the story of India versus Pakistan, of the bravery of India’s airforce and army, of the genius of Squadron Leader Vijay Karnik.

Squadron Leader Vijay Karnik (Ajay Devgan) was a brave Indian Airforce Maratha officer. How he saved the Kutch region of India from being usurped by Pakistan in 1971 is what the film is all about.

West Pakistani fighter planes attack the Bhuj airbase in India in 1971 as a revenge for India supporting East Pakistan (which later became Bangladesh). The Indian Airforce, under the able guidance of Vijay Karnik, retaliates. However, Pakistan has another sinister plan up its sleeve. It cuts off all the commonly used modes of reaching Bhuj from various parts of India by destroying bridges, annihilating the Bhuj airstrip and also completely destroying the roads which lead to Bhuj. The larger plan is to send the Pakistani armymen with tanks to capture the entire Kutch region of India. Since Bhuj would now be cut off from the rest of India, armed forces would not reach Bhuj from other parts — at least not before the huge contingent of Pakistani armymen would reach. But Vijay Karnik and other top officials of the Indian Airforce — 2nd Lieutenant R.K. Nayar (Sharad Kelkar) and fighter pilot Vikram Singh Baaz (Ammy Virk) and others — are not the ones to give up so easily. While Vijay Karnik takes up the impossible task of reconstructing the airstrip in a matter of a few hours, Nayar, aided by Ranchhodbhai (Sanjay Dutt), plans to attack the infiltrating Pakistani armymen on the way. Vikram Singh Baaz, meanwhile, is all ready to transport 500 armymen to Bhuj in an aeroplane/cargo plane once the airstrip in Bhuj is complete. How this seemingly impossible mission is accomplished in a matter of a few hours and how the Kutch region is saved from going into the hands of Pakistan is what the last part of the film is all about.

The film, based on a real-life story and real-life characters, is written (story, screenplay and dialogues) by Abhishek Dudhaiya, Raman Kumar, Ritesh Shah and Pooja Bhavoria, with additional dialogues by Manoj Muntashir. The story inherently has so much power that it is a delight to watch the drama unfold. Since Vijay Karnik is not just a great planner but also an outstanding executionist, it is doubly exciting to see the proceedings on the screen. The screenplay in the first half is fairly good as it drags a bit at times. However, the aerial fight between fighter planes of India and Pakistan right at the start of the film are wonderful. The action sequence in the chilli powder workshop is also very well conceived, written and executed. The film goes into flashback mode and returns to the present time on several occasions.

The post-interval portion is far more dramatic, fast-paced, exciting and thrilling. So much happens in the second half that it just doesn’t give the audience time to think or blink! The planning portion is fantastic while the execution portion is simply extraordinary. The scene in which Vijay Karnik addresses the people of Bhuj is hair-raising. Its scripting deserves high praise. As for the climax, it is outstanding and mind-blowing as it affords edge-of-the-seat thrill to the viewers. Not just the writing but also the execution of the difficult climax gives the viewers a feeling of euphoria once the task is accomplished. Heena Rehman’s (Nora Fatehi) track comes as a surprise. Dialogues are excellent at several places and evoke the patriotic fervour. The dialogues about having tea with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, at the start of the film and again in the end, are masterly.

Ajay Devgan is simply remarkable in the role of Squadron Leader Vijay Karnik. He looks and acts like the character and gives his all to the role. Indeed, a fabulous performance! Sanjay Dutt gets limited scope as Ranchhodbhai but he does a decent job. Sonakshi Sinha also has a brief role as Sundarben and she is good. Sharad Kelkar looks handsome and does the fullest justice to his character of 2nd Lieutenant R.K. Nayar. Ammy Virk shines as fighter pilot Vikram Singh Baaz. A top Punjabi film star, he will get more roles in Hindi films after this extremely impressive (debut) role. Nora Fatehi is fair as Heena Rehman. Pranitha Subhash makes a good debut in Hindi films in the role of Vijay Karnik’s wife. She hardly has any dialogues but her expressions and presence are pleasing. Mahesh Shetty (as Vijay Karnik’s brother, Laxman Karnik) lends able support. Pawan Shankar leaves a fine mark as Pakistani Military Intelligence head Omani. Zahid Ali leaves a good impression as Brigadier Baig. Navni Parihar (as Prime Minister Indira Gandhi) and Ashok Banthia provide impressive support. Ihana Dhillon (as Nimrit Kaur) and Pooja Bhavoria (as R.K. Nayar’s wife) are alright. Others lend the desired support.

Abhishek Dudhaiya’s direction is very good. The film evokes both, a feeling of proud patriotism and emotions, among the audience. Music (Tanishk Bagchi, Gourov Dasgupta, Lijo-George-DJ Chetas, Arko Mukherjee, Amar Mohile and Vipin Patwa) is good but most of the songs are not too popular. Most of the lyrics (Devshi Khanduri, Manoj Muntashir, Vayu, Kavita Tiwari, Abhilash, Anil Verma and Kavira Ahir (Manoj Yadav)) are weighty. ‘Hanjugham’ (Gourov Dasgupta; Devshi Khanduri) is very melodious and so are ‘Bhai bhai’ (Lijo-George-DJ Chetas; Manoj Muntashir) and ‘Desh mere’ (Arko Mukherjee; Manoj Muntashir). The ‘Coca Cola’ song (Tanishk Bagchi; Vayu) is good but it is not part of the film. Ganesh Acharya’s choreography is not showcased in the film as the dance songs have been deleted. Amar Mohile’s background music is superb and heightens the impact of the thrilling drama. Aseem Bajaj’s cinematography is absolutely first-rate. Action scenes and stunts, choreographed by Peter Hein and R.P. Yadav, are fabulous and provide the viewers great thrill. Visual effects and computer graphics (by NY VFXwala) deserve special mention. Dharmendra Sharma’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Bhuj: The Pride Of India is an out-and-out mass-oriented commercial entertainer with the additional plus point of a powerful and patriotic real-life story. It is actually a big-screen film which cannot be equally enjoyed on the small screen (rendered necessary because it has been released on an OTT platform). Despite the small screen release, the fact remains that the film is a lovely entertainer. Had it released in the cinemas in normal times, it would have done very impressive business.

Released today (13-8-’21) on Disney+ Hotstar.