Paper planes fly with more conviction than the fleet of VFX generated aircrafts gliding, bombing and crashing mindlessly in and out of the frame in Bhuj: The Pride of India. It’s like Pearl Harbour on a dollar store budget.
Ajay Devgn’s latest contribution to hollow patriotism is inspired by true events from the 1971 War when 300 women of a nearby village gathered to mend relentlessly demolished airstrips at Bhuj.
The actual story has a magical Shoemaker and the Elves quality to it, but Director Abhishek Dudhaiya’s sole aim is to bombard the screen with identical looking explosions and Devgn strutting in slow motion.
Between its yawn inducing Pakistan bashing and blatant Islamophobia harping on the same old great Maratha versus vile Mughal issue, unintended hilarity ensues by the dozen in code word exchanges that respond to Anarkali with Akbar Ki Nautanki and a president who sounds like he swallowed his dentures.
Bhuj: The Pride of India has some of the worst lines I’ve heard in a while. Musalman vikalang ladki? Malayalam yodhaon ki kaum? Agar Taj Mahal pyar ki nishaani hai toh Hindustan tere baap ki kahani hai? It’s bad enough that a place like Harami Nala actually exists, but to repeatedly utter it a dozen times is death by mirth.
More than half of this drivel is dedicated to Devgn’s drowsy swagger as Squadron Leader Vijay Karnik who hammers a bunch of kediyu clad men using a shield like he’s watched too much Steve Rogers, lights up time bombs as though it’s some hazaar ki ladi, takes power naps in sand amidst an aerial attack, washes off his suddenly blood-soaked face and stares into the mirror as if posing for Daboo Ratnani’s annual calendar or stands tall before a strategically planted tricolour at every given chance.
A voiceover tells us about the undercover support he receives from an informer Sanjay Dutt and mole Nora Fatehi (eyelash patriotism, anyone?).
As per Bhuj, joining R&AW is simpler than getting a job at McDonalds. Don’t want to be a butcher, join R&AW. Have a brother to avenge, join R&AW.
There’s Sharad Kelkar’s military officer and Ammy Virk’s pilot too, doing all the fighting and flying while Devgn fulfils his bhakt duties — praying before a Ganesha idol, that is.
Dutt’s character Pagi Ranchhod Bhai Savabhai Rabari has a looooong name, but nothing major to do except look at the footprints in sand and identify if it’s Pakistani or India.
In the final face-off between India and Pakistan, Dutt turns into an attention seeking kid on his own trip while grownups are talking.
Showing up after more than half of its 1 hour 53 minutes running time, Sonakshi Sinha, all prim and pretty in her fancy costumes and ethnic makeup, leads the girl gang to accomplish the actual purpose of Bhuj. That the woman can slay fake looking leopards using sickles and fire arrows at Raavan effigies is enough for Karnik to place faith in her abilities.
There’s no sense of struggle, desperation or teamwork in the endeavour depicted. Rather the sham is all the more obvious when the end credits shares a snapshot of the ‘Real Women from Madhapar village at Bhuj air base.’ Now that was quite a story and a moment of real pride.