"Bhuj: The Pride of India" | A war drama with scattered vision
Be it the India Rebellion of 1857 or the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, Indian soldiers have never backed down from the bloody face-to-face with their enemies to save the country. Indian history is replete with such stories of uncanny heroic deeds and acts of valour. To remember one such braveheart who fought for the country selflessly, Ajay Devgn starrer ‘Bhuj: The Pride of India’ was released ahead of the 75th Independance Day.
Directed by Abhishek Dudhaiya, the 1 hour 53 minutes period war film is set during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. It tells the story of IAF Squadron Leader Vijay Karnik (played by Ajay Devgn) who rebuilds the IAF base at the Bhuj airport in a single night with the help of 300 women from the local village Madhapar in Gujarat. The runaway was destroyed by the Pakistani air troops.
Films on patriotism have been made time and again in India and it has always been a challenge for filmmakers to offer something unique in the genre- an element that could keep the audience glued to the screen while the story unfolds. Unfortunately, ‘Bhuj’ lacks any of it. A bloody and brutal war between India and Pakistan, soldiers fighting till their last breath for their motherland – it’s all a cliché.
The film starts with true accounts of the horror of the 1971 Indo-Pak War that began with Operation Chengiz Khan’s aerial strikes on 11 Indian air stations. The incident later led to the announcement of hostilities with Pakistan and India’s entry into the war for independence in East Pakistan on the side of Bengali nationalist forces.
The focus is then brought upon the fictionalised version of how Pakistan is hell-bent on crushing the will-power and dignity of Indian soldiers by destroying the IAF base situated at the Bhuj airport, from where Ajay Devgn (as Vijay Karnik) jumps into action to destroy the Pakistani airships. Meanwhile, in a different Indian state, Flight Lieutenant Vikram Singh Baj Jethaaz (Ammy Virk) is busy fighting off a Pakistani airship.
To begin with, the way film’s focus was shifted between the two leads Ajay Devgn and Ammy Virk, it created head buzzing confusion for the viewers. Moreover, the story unfolded in a seemingly scattered manner, making it impossible for the audience to get a grasp of the whole scenario. The first few scenes were all about heart-thumping bombing sounds and unnecessary brave speeches by several supporting characters.
Amid all the mess, Nora Fatehi’s appearance as Indian spy Heena Rehman comes as a breath of fresh air for the watchers. Fatehi delivers some action-packed scenes in her five-minute sequence as she escapes the lion’s den. Only if the director had not thought of killing her character so soon, the film would have got few more interesting scenes.
Though ‘Bhuj’ is nothing close to an awe-inspiring masterpiece, it would not be wrong to admit how every scene of soldiers waiting for the enemies’ next unexpected move give few seconds of chills and thrills - especially the climax. Ajay Devgn’s intense performance with the support of Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha, Sharad Kelkar and Ammy Virk saves it from falling flat at various instances. Among the cameos, casting Navni Parihar as former PM Indira Gandhi works well.
Despite the cliché theme and disorganised film setting, ‘Bhuj: The Pride of India’ is a ride-or-die war drama that delivers a satisfying amount of entertainment while also making one teary-eyed towards the end with the martyrs sacrifice for our Bharat Mata and surviving heroes’ returning to their families.