Bhavesh Joshi is not yet a superhero. While Motwane’s blueprint is derivative (you will think Kick Ass and Arrow), his thoughts and setting are localised enough to make this a convincing character within the genre. But the film’s flaw is that it’s trying to say too much and doing so at such a painful pace that much of a good intention is lost in execution.
The film stretches for no apparent reason. A shorter version could have been a better prelude to more films in the franchise. The over-the-top villainy further dampens the spirit of a realistic superhero film. But all said and done, Motwane breaks into new territories with his innovative take on superhero films. Bhavesh Joshi Superhero has its heart in the right place and its tone is totally indigenous. Harshvardhan Kapoor has come up with an honest performance. At 155-minute, Bhavesh Joshi Superhero has a lot to offer.
Bhavesh Joshi Superhero is an impressive, admirable attempt at creating a vulnerable middle-class superhero in the real world, committed to tackling everyday challenges faced by the ordinary citizen. But it’s also bloated and indulgent, and that comes in the way of Motwane realizing the full extent of his vision. But much like our protagonist’s vehicle of choice, a moody motorbike, the film too revs, slides and sputters, but only seldom soars despite its ambition. The blame, as is often the case, lies with the script. The story takes forever to set up; it’s overwritten in its details and gaping in its holes. If there are two ways to arrive at a point, you can be sure this film will take the longest route. So at two and a half hours it often feels like a drag.
Bhavesh Joshi Superhero is essentially a modest vigilante tragicomedy stuck within the grandstanding confines of a superhero origins drama. This description might have suited the protagonist – some of the most celebrated superheroes have indie hearts beating in commercial bodies. But it doesn’t suit a film that, in its pursuit to straddle two distinct genres, ends up doing “insaaf” (justice) to neither. Kapoor here is so emphatically colourless that even the villains refuse to kill him, because he’s like the batsman with a terrible T20 strike-rate that the opponents might want to keep at the crease. He professes love, pain, determination, anger, near-death with little more than a wisp of his fluttering moustache.
The film starts beautifully, with young protesters in a Mumbai Police lockup bound together by that one chant India gets right: Sachin, Sachin. In the second half of this overlong drama, we are subjected to what looks like Kapoor's training video - More-Dull Combat - where he trains under a martial arts teacher who emerges from the shadows. Things only get more ridiculous. Yawn.