10 years after the Batla House encounter, John Abraham and Nikkhil Advani bring on screen the controversial and political event on screen. The case still has not got its closure and the answer to ‘was it real or fake?’ is not clear yet. Does this adaptation resolve this 10-year mystery? Read further.
- Director: Nikkhil Advani
- Screenplay: Ritesh Shah
- Cast: John Abraham, Mrunal Thakur, Ravi Kishan, Nora Fatehi, Manish Chaudhari, Rajesh Sharma and others
- Genre: Action, Thriller
- Date releasing: August 15, 2019
- CBFC rating: U/A
- Duration: 146 minutes
- Reviewer Rating: 3.5/5
Setting the scene
Blasts have ravaged Delhi, killing 30 in September 2008. A few days later, based on an investigation, Delhi Police Special Cell decide to raid a flat at Batla House where alleged terrorists are hiding. However, things don’t go as per plan as two alleged terrorists get killed in the encounter, two escape and one is arrested, while one police officer also loses his life.
‘Batla House’ traces the story of ACP Sanjay Kumar (John Abraham), who heads the investigation team that conducts the operation, resulting in the encounter. However, residents of the area, media and politicians term it as a fake encounter of ‘innocent students’. Kumar, who is already facing a troubled time with wife (Mrunal Thakur), not just is attacked with allegations in a media trial, a departmental inquiry for the fiasco, but also suffers a mental breakdown over the deaths, including of his colleague (Ravi Kishan). His rollercoaster journey, strategising the way to get hold of one of the escaped terrorists, proving the authenticity of the incident to his seniors, ministers and towards the end, to the court, while battling his own demons, forms the rest of the story.
There is a not a single dull moment in ‘Batla House’; the movie is gripping from the word ‘go’ till the end, and the credit goes to the direction and editing.
It goes without saying, ‘Batla House’ rests on the broad shoulders of John Abraham and he uplifts it with a stupendous performance. From the portrayal of his troubled equation with wife, hallucination scenes, investigation of the terrorists with verses from Quran, or beating up the accused, the actor nails the role to the T. It won’t come as a surprise if he is finally honoured with an award, after a string of patriotic roles.
The supporting cast is outstanding too. The roles of the police officers and the terrorists are all played convincingly. From the supporting cast, Ravi Kishan impresses even in his brief role, Manish Chaudhari never quite gets its wrong.
Mrunal Thakur and Nora Fatehi don’t have much to do, but they do their job fairly well. Rajesh Sharma as the overconfident lawyer is one of the highlights.
The writing by Ritesh Shah, known for movies like ‘Pink’ and ‘Raid’, deserves a special mention. Dialogues do justice to the story, though it might seem heavy at places.
The action sequences are extraordinary and the entire sequence of John chasing one of the terrorists, right till the point he fails to catch him, is marvellous. The picturisation of the sequences add to the build-up, though the movie isn’t much about the action, but more about what happens after the encounter.
The background music is brilliant as it manages to keep the tempo high throughout the movie. The songs, two of them, do justice to the plot and Nora’s ‘Saaki Saaki’ act will be something that’d draw the audiences to the theatres.
On the flip side, John’s equation with his wife might seem as deviating from the plot for some, while the hallucination scenes might have mixed reactions. The monologue towards the end might seem too preachy. Some sequences like the scene in Nepal was out of the blue and more focus could’ve been given to the facts that brought the Special Cell to Batla House. The reason why Kumar and Co waited one year to go to UP to nab the accused was not justified. Like ‘Talwar’, Batla House tries to present various versions of the incident, but this one does take a side.
However, overall, ‘Batla House’ is an impressive action thriller, aided by impressive performances and fine direction, that gives a fitting tribute to the police officers.
What works: Direction, performances, action sequences
What doesn’t: Could’ve been crisper and more detailed
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