Bhuj: The Pride of India
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sharad Kelkar, Sonakshi Sinha
Director: Abhishek Dudhaiya
Streaming Platform: Disney+Hotstar VIP
Stars: 2 /5
In the past, several war films have made our hearts swell with pride or made us take stock of the massive sacrifice that the Indian Army, Air Force and Naval officers make. Director Abhishek Dudhaiya’s Bhuj: The Pride of India tries to dig into that emotion but fails to hit the target. Starring Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sharad Kelkar and Sonakshi Sinha in prominent roles, Bhuj: The Pride of India is inspired from true events. If you don’t know which event it is, the film revolves around the Bhuj air base attack that happened in 1971.
The film starts with a history lesson of West and East Pakistan and India’s role in it. While the Pakistani Army declare themselves as the “New Age Pakistan” and wage a war against India, the film puts you right into the thick of things as India’s Bhuj air base is attacked. For the first 15 minutes of the film, you only see over the top VFX bombing wherein Vijay Karnik (played by Ajay Devgn) escapes every bomb drop and survives.
Bhuj: The Pride of India tells you at the very beginning what has played out and why. It then haphazardly begins to trace the events leading up to the Bhuj air base attack and Pakistan’s ultimate aim of capturing the Kutch region of West India.
With any real-life Army, Air Force or Navy story there is always a slice of history and a great story of pride and fighter spirit attached. Dudhaiya’s take on Vijay Karnaik’s life in Bhuj simply fails to capture that spirit. With a chaotic screenplay which quickly shuffles between several events and many characters, it fails to hold your attention to one track in the first half of the film.
The film is further shot down with average performances and some messy editing. Imagine, there’s a scene in which a time bomb explodes on the air base, barely a few meters away from Ajay Devgn, but his reaction only comes in a little later and he casually passes it off. The makers may have got the re-creation of the airbase pretty spot on but the patchy screenplay does not build up to an exciting climax.
Bhuj: The Pride of India picks up pace a little over an hour into the film but once more is riddled with full-fledged songs, unnecessary filmy dialogues, poem and unrealistic happenings. As is with any war film, several parallel tracks are included to show what’s happening on different fronts, but director Abhishek Dudhaiya and his team of writers falter in keeping it crisp. The result is a mess of multiple tracks that disrupt the flow of the screenplay.
Sanjay Dutt and Sharad Kelkar put in an earnest performance but even the yawn-worthy script can do little to save their characters. Nora Fatehi and Sonakshi Sinha also try to do their best but fail to impress. South actress Pranitha Subhash rarely utters 10 words and we wonder what made her say yes to the film.
Ajay Devgn, a Maratha, doesn’t bring anything new with his patriotic ode and his performance is at best average. The use of cinematic freedom is quite liberal in Bhuj as over dramatic shots of women singing and praying, hyper-stylised action sequences and way too much bombing take up screen time.
If you love patriotic films, you can give Bhuj: The Pride of India a watch over this Independence Day weekend.