Badlapur tracks the journey of a simpleton consumed by his thirst for revenge, whose wife and kid become collateral damages to a robbery that goes astray. The perpetrator, Layak is nabbed and sentenced to a 20 year imprisonment, before the protagonist could get a piece of him.
The movie traces the diabolical transformation of this man musing on just one emotion- revenge over the span of the sentence.
He inflicts psychological pain on the imprisoned man by violating his girlfriend. 15 years later when he tracks the accomplice-who’s basking in the dividends of the booty, with his wife; now a reformed man- descends on them like a plague. He first feasts on the helplessness of this man from behind the closed doors of his own bedroom; from where his wife held siege is made to fake moan orgasmically. Later, he vents out his long held frustration on the couple, going on to hack them to unrecognisable parts.
Its at this very juncture, that the definition of protagonist and antagonist becomes a fluid concept to us, dichotomised by a delicate line.Who is more wrong-the “supposed” criminal who killed accidentally, while in a hurry to flee from the scene of crime or the “supposed” bereaved man who conducts a premeditated murder of a couple-like a funeral rite that was left behind-15 years after his wife’s murder?
While the former was clearly not personal, the latter is deviously so.
The film mocks at the righteousness behind revenges as it draws to its end, with Layak surrendering to the murders committed by his avenger, the wronged man.
If Badlapur was an antithesis of the revenge archetype; Raman Raghav serves as an antithesis to Badlapur.
Take Nawazuddin Siddiqui‘s Layak, replace the limp and Huma Qureshi; with an unsettling quiver and an iron rod, we have Ramana from his recent offering Raman Raghav. But the similarities stop there.Layak at least had a heart that skipped a beat at the distress of the damsel he was in love or embraced a consequence of a past sin. Raman on the other hand is a morbid being, who seeks mirth in the act of murder.
As he declares rather proudly, he doesn’t find the need to hide behind the veneer of an uniform, religion or humanity to kill. He kills because he wants to.
RR is not a euphemism of the anti hero template-like the Don or Dhoom movies; with the crimes committed in a scale and color schema of a carnival-instead it’s our worst fears inhabiting the darkest corridors of our heart, personified into two individuals- equally disturbed and disturbing.
The movie’s is a class apart as it manages to achieve macabre violence in the viewer’s head without much blood spilt, to which I doff my hat.A lesser movie would’ve resorted to showing the gruesome murders happening in graphic detail and the mutilated corpses. Here we get a cerebral excursion into a murderer’s head who kills devoid of a before of after thought.Imploding with intrigue,we get to witness the lead up to his murders-the cryptic monologues, the modus operandi, the victim’s vulnerable last moments-till he renders them still; lifeless.
The shock we get here is veritable, unlike the one we associate with a ghoul springing out from a haunted house tour in a mall, but closer to the vicarious pain of watching a prey being chased and hunted by a predator in a jungle.
But in the jungle at least, the hunting is a seamless part of the survival process to the predator, not an act of inebriating pleasure.
Starstruck by the serial killings of the despicable Raman Raghav from an impressionable age, Ramana is on the lookout for a yin to his yang-“Raghav”. In this aspiration of his we get an interesting spin off to the Soulmate trope that would make Yash Chopra turn in his grave. He sees his soulmate in an unlikely person- the cop who’s hot on his trail.
The final portions of the movie see Ramana as a content man who brings himself into custody. In what happens to be one of the most defining moments, he breaks into a cryptic monologue during a one on one interrogation with the cop about how providence-that he likens to redemption dawning upon one after years of penance-had eventually brought him close to his soulmate- who completes and compliments him. The cop baffled by this man’s ability to look right into his soul-without being intimidated by its darkness- appoints Raghav to be his vindicated alter ego, his true self that he starts to wear like a badge of honour.
While leaving the theatre, when we surreptitiously find ourselves a touch glad at the unison of two heinous murderers- Raman and Raghav, we can’t help but appreciate the genius of the maverick filmmaker who had just managed to endear the act of murder as a catharsis, so palatably to our primal sides.