Movie Review

Bhuj The Pride of India review: High on slogan shouting, Ajay Devgn film almost hides its real heroes

Bhuj The Pride of India movie cast: Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha, Sharad Kelkar, Ammy Virk, Nora Fatehi, Pranitha Subhash
Bhuj The Pride of India movie director: Abhishek Dudhaiya
Bhuj The Pride of India movie rating: 1 star

‘Bhuj: The Pride of India’ does exactly what it sets out to do: create a ‘war film’ toplined by a swaggering hero, so heavy on jingoistic jingle jangles and slogan-shouting that it almost succeeds in hiding the real ‘heroes’ of the story – the 300 women who pulled off the incredible feat. The women repaired an airstrip overnight, so that our brave IAF boys could land their planes in order to chase the Pakistani forces off our soil during the 1971 war.

Because it also has two other heroes, time has to be allocated to them, too. Sharad Kelkar plays officer R K Nair, who pointedly loses his heart to a ‘viklaang Muslim’ woman. Yes, that’s exactly how she’s described. Another Muslim woman (Nora Fatehi), the wife of a Pakistani bigwig is, hold your breath, a Spy. Yes, Ms Fatehi gets a sizeable speaking part, in which she has to kick, scream, shoot, and, gulp, act. Nope, no kidding.

Wait, we were talking of big male heroes, right? Sorry, got distracted. So, Sanjay Dutt plays Ranchordas Pagi, a shrewd, canny local who keeps strolling across the desert, picking up crucial intel, and fooling the Pakistanis. The most striking thing about him are his huge multi-hued pagris, and kohl-lined eyes; he also spouts a few lines when he remembers to. Meanwhile, no sign of the 300 women yet.

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And then, of course, there’s Squadron Leader Vijay Srinivas Karnik (Ajay Devgn) who manages to find several occasions to stride slo-mo across the airstrip, whether there are bombs falling around him, or his fellow soldiers are perishing in enemy fire. He also gets to make rousing speeches to chivvy the brave women of Bhuj, when he is not narrowing his eyes and chatting on the phone with a Pakistani caller, that is. ‘Kaun bol raha hai’, asks the guy on the other side. Barks Karnik: ‘tera baap’. Taalis.

Finally, we get to see the ladies, dressed to the nines in colourful ghagras, who did the actual work. They are led by the incredibly brave mother-of-a-tot (Sonakski Sinha) who is equally good at giving speeches as she is at singing ‘desh bhakti geet’: the women are suitably moved, and armed with massive ‘dhols’ and ‘nagadas’, which they manage to play vigorously in the middle of battle. Yes, that’s right, go along and do the needful. Good girls.

And poor Yahya Khan, that powerful general in Islamabad who was plotting to lecture PM Indira Gandhi and show down India, has to lick his wounds. That happened in real life; it is duly shown in the movie. Waah. And there endeth the tale: like we said, no surprises. Maybe they could have done a better (much, much better, to be honest) job of the VFX, but hey, you can’t have everything, right?

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