‘Bhaiyya Ji’ movie review: Manoj Bajpayee burns bright in this toothless revenge saga

Manoj Bajpayee in ‘Bhaiyya Ji’

Merging the flair of Bhojpuri cinema with the flavor of South Indian thrillers, Bhaiyya Ji represents an unusual offering for mainstream Bollywood. Its creation appears to hinge on appealing to the standalone theater audiences yearning for local heroes and familiar settings amidst the urban multiplex scene. An action drama with a twist, both the protagonist and antagonist are portrayed by actors celebrated for their subdued performances. Manoj Bajpayee and Suvinder Vicky, both acclaimed for their ability to speak volumes with silence, seem to abruptly step into a stereotypical Salman Khan action flick with their fine-tuned acting prowess.

Anticipation ran high to witness Bajpayee, a meticulous method actor, go full throttle against his adversaries. Directorial lead Apoorv Singh Karki, previously collaborating with Bajpayee on the legal drama Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai, sets the stage for a tale of vendetta. However, despite the initial setup and cast’s talents, this fiery narrative quickly dies down to embers.

The film’s intentions start boldly, but its execution is underwhelming. Karki, who had demonstrated potential with his first film, stumbles in translating his ideas to the screen. Bhaiyya Ji centers on the feuds between the Brahmin and Rajput chieftains in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh’s eastern regions. The titular character, played by Bajpayee, is compelled to abandon his self-chosen exile after his stepbrother’s death ignites a brutal chain of events.

Bhaiyya Ji (Hindi)

Director: Apoorv Singh Karki

Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Suvinder Vicky, Jatin Goswami, Zoya Hussain, Vipin Sharma

Run-time: 135 minutes

Storyline: Ram Charan, nicknamed Bhaiyya Ji, plunges into a brutal quest for vengeance following his stepbrother’s murder

The narrative arc, unfortunately, veers towards the predictable. A traditional mother thirsts for revenge, a fiancée ready to kill, and a wily cop swaying loyalties are part of the unfolding drama. Karki’s attempt to add a layer of realism to commercial elements results in a confused mess. The raw emotion that should fuel a revenge tale is noticeably absent after its initial outburst. The bold dialogue and fanfare that initially grip the audience eventually feel forced and empty. Additionally, various technical issues, including editing and pacing, render the second half jumbled and tedious.

In the absence of a compelling story, Bajpayee’s talents seem squandered, his characteristic intensity overshadowed by the surrounding on-screen chaos. The audience craves to see Bhaiyya Ji’s fight for honor, yet not in the confined space Karki provides. The stunts feel disconnected from the tale, lacking in logical coherence. The romantic subplot between Bajpayee’s character and Zoya’s role is underdeveloped, and the Bhojpuri soundtrack fails to resonate. Suvinder Vicky grasps the regional tone and, together with Vipin Sharma, manages to spark moments of excitement, but these are insufficient to reignite the story’s lost fervor.

Bhaiyya Ji is currently screening in theaters

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