Nitesh Tiwari’s ‘Bawaal’ tells the familiar story of an uncouth braggart named Ajay, also known as Ajju, who lives in Lucknow and spends his time boasting about his supposed achievements. Despite being a history teacher, Ajay lacks knowledge and spends his days wasting time with his friends and parents. However, his life takes a turn when he meets the sensible and lovely Nisha, and they embark on a journey across European cities impacted by World War II.
Unfortunately, the film fails to fully explore its potential, stumbling on a harebrained plot flourish. Ajay’s insensitive attitude towards epilepsy, a condition Nisha has, is particularly problematic. While he eventually learns his lesson, the film seems to dwell on his initial disgust towards the condition. This portrayal is deeply insensitive and may leave audiences with misconceptions about epilepsy.
Varun Dhawan’s portrayal of Ajju is convincing, as he captures the character’s low self-esteem masked by his unpleasant demeanor. On the other hand, Janhvi Kapoor’s role as Nisha is limited to being a supportive instrument for Ajay’s transformation, falling into the clichéd portrayal of a man-woman relationship in Bollywood.
Despite the film’s scenes shot on location in Auschwitz, it fails to evoke the appropriate emotions regarding the millions who lost their lives during the Holocaust. The simplistic and trivializing approach to historical events, such as Hitler’s greed for more countries, is disappointing and doesn’t contribute to an effective history lesson.
In conclusion, ‘Bawaal’ had the potential to be different and explore a deeper character arc, but it falters with its plot and insensitive portrayals. Varun Dhawan delivers a compelling performance, but the film lacks substance in its historical elements. It receives a rating of 1.5 stars.