Ajay Devgn starrer Bhuj: The Pride of India is based on the true events of the Indo-Pakistani War in 1971, as a tribute to the valour of civilians and armed forces. However, Abhishek Dudhaiya’s feature directorial debut falls short due to its dramatic storytelling.
Set during the ongoing Indo-Pak war in 1971, the movie starts off narrating the situation in which the movie is set in. The Partition of 1947 resulted in the division of Pakistan into two parts, West Pakistan and East Pakistan. Pakistan treated the population of East Pakistan as outcasts due to language and lifestyle differences, and kept on unleashing cruelty on them.
When the brutality reached its peak, the people of East Pakistan rebelled. However, their rebellion got crushed by President Yahya Khan and General Tikka’s Operation Searchlight, under which they killed three million innocents. To come to their rescue, India deployed their forces to East Pakistan and secured a large part of Pakistan.
On losing a large part of Pakistan from his hands, an infuriated Yahya Khan planned to give India a huge blow. With General Tikka, he sets up a plan to attack Bhuj Air Base and take control of West India.
If he gets an upper hand in the war, he will make a deal with the President of India, to give Western India in return for East Pakistan.
Pakistan Air Force initiates their plan damaging the airstrip of Bhuj Air Strip and other routes, making it incredibly difficult for the Indian Army to reach the location. The Pakistan Army decides to use this to their benefit to reach Bhuj on time and capture it using their tanks and soldiers, before the Indian Army could do so.
Squadron leader Vijay Srinivas Karnik (Ajay Devgn) is handled with the task to repair the airstrip for it to be operational during this time of war. Assisting him are 300 brave local women who risk their lives for the sake of the nation.
Ajay Devgn, as the leading man, of the movie attempts his best to keep the action alive despite his badly fleshed-out character. He tries to stay earnest in his role even though he has portrayed such roles several times in the past.
Sharad Kelkar, as Military officer Ram Karan Nair, and Sanjay Dutt, as Army scout Ranchordas Pagi, lend decent support.
Army Virk gives a satisfactory performance as Flight Lieutenant Vikram Singh Baj despite his shallow character.
Nora Fatehi impresses with her action, but she struggles with her accent and her performance doesn’t leave a lasting impression.
However, female actors like Sonakshi Sinha and Pranitha Subhash have got limited screen time and have been sidelined by other actors. Their true potential has not been explored in the entire runtime.
The set pieces and aerial shots show the sumptuous scale of the movie, and an intention to make an epic action drama.
The climax of the movie feels like the saving grace. The last half an hour manages to keep the viewers hooked to witness the events as they unfold.
Despite having an ensemble cast and a potential story at hand, Bhuj lets down due to its convoluted narrative. The movie appears to be a complete mess and out of place for the most part, so much so that it gets difficult to follow what’s happening at times. The use of non-linear narrative worsens this problem instead of fulfilling its original purpose, which is to build excitement.
The bland writing is another issue in the entirety of the film. Not even a single character is well etched. Their one-dimensional nature makes it impossible for the audience to emotionally invest themselves.
The movie becomes too preachy at times when it comes to evoking patriotism, instead of letting it to seep in naturally. The use of frequent punchy dialogues, nationalistic songs in the middle of a battle, and a cliched portrayal of the Pakistani army, all feel too forced.
An extremely loud background score and tacky VFX just adds to its long list of problems.
Bhuj: The Pride of India had a potential story at hand and an ensemble cast, despite this the movie disappoints with its lacklustre writing and poor execution. Overall, the movie is disappointing even with just a runtime of 110 minutes.
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