After a hiatus, Madhur Bhandarkar returns with his formula of understanding a section of society through a female protagonist. Having exposing the underbelly of socialites, dance bars, and the fashion industry, Madhur now turns his lens on the booming business of bouncers in metros and its supply chain in Haryana villages
However, as it turns out, Madhur is no longer the intrepid filmmaker who gave us Page 3 and Chandni Bar. Here, he has come up with a safe film that hardly stretches the boundaries of feel-good cinema, and feels like watching a television serial in two hours, where conflicts are facile and solutions are visible from a distance. There is no attempt to seriously explore the underbelly of the nightclub business in Delhi-NCR, and it seems Madhur has stopped drawing from news headlines.
The backdrop is not novel as he is a bit late in turning the focus on Haryana where girls with beauty and brawn are excelling in fields that were earlier considered reserved for boys. Babli Bouncer hardly nudges the boxes created by Dangal and Sultan and their several spin-offs in the mainstream space. A well-meaning father (Saurabh Shukla) who allows his daughter Babli’s (Tamannaah Bhatia) dream to take wings. The village belle who misunderstands a shehri babu’s (Abhishek Bajaj ) empathy as love. Of course, there is a shoulder (Sahil Vaid) to cry upon, but before she could slip, the writers come up with pads to help Babli find her feet and focus. The good thing is Amit Joshi’s dialogues keep you in good humour throughout, even if the situations turn too syrupy. Another thing that works is the father-daughter bond, that is not progressive, but heartfelt nevertheless.
In Tamannaah, Madhur has a star who seems keen on an image change. A competent actress, she is not bad in the fun and emotional parts and aces the local accent. But despite suspending disbelief, the bubbly actor doesn’t come across as a bouncer or a girl who shuns lipstick. Perhaps, someone has told her that the lead actor’s emotions should be visible from at least a kilometre. But such instructions have not been passed on to Shukla and Sahil! Such bold strokes work for the Baahubali kind of cinema, but not in subjects that demand immersion. Perhaps, Madhur didn’t want to lose out on the family audience, but it results in a generic coming-of-age film with no identity of its own.
Babli Bouncer is currently streaming on Disney+Hotstar