Batla House

wogma rating: Watch if you have nothing better to do (?)

quick review:

Accomplished police officers have to defend themselves against allegations of fake encounters–the topic as a central theme for a film is relatively fresh. However, the story doesn’t budge ahead until the last 20 minutes and thus is sadly a tiring bore.

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Director: Nikhil Advani
Running time: 145 minutes
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Batla House - Preview

When you can predict how a trailer is going to unfold, the movie can hold only so much interest. Really, nothing to look forward to–you can even tell how the lead cast is going to “act” in a certain situation. Looks like this independence day, I’m going to follow the actor’s suit and go through the motions of my job.

Batla House releases on 15 August 2019.

- meeta, a part of the audience

An “honest police officer versus the system” film, with a slight twist – a welcome twist, one I wasn’t expecting. Batla House is not about the system not letting the officer, Sanjay (John Abraham) do the right thing. It is about his struggle to prove to the world and to himself that he was doing the right thing. But the conflict, once defined, doesn’t move forward. The film stagnates before picking pace for a strong climax. The strength, walking in a bit too late to re-engage.

For a film that wanted to say so much needed a little more conviction and had to be a lot crisper.

Along the way, though, it makes a few valiant efforts by spending time on Sanjay’s mental health (John Abraham) and his take on religious brainwashing. The montages to depict his post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts are striking visual breaks from the film’s otherwise dreary texture. This particular the top-angle shot of him wading himself out of a sea of people who are dressed like Muslims will stay in memory for a long time. Similarly, Sanjay’s take on Islam and religious brainwashing are reasonably powerful, especially considering they are monologues. Unfortunately, all these efforts are half-hearted and whisked away with one scene each.

It doesn’t help that the lengthy disclaimers at the beginning and one during the movie that runs like a “smoking” warning make you wonder why the makers were so afraid or what they were afraid of. As if they believe in something strongly but feel like they are walking on eggshells.

For a while, it was like they are mirroring the thoughts of an ordinary citizen reading a newspaper who is always wondering, “who knows what’s true?” After all, and the film admits it too, this is a world where fake encounters are real. People who are responsible for them do believe they are doing good. We do have films that glorify fake encounter specialists. Would it be so far-fetched then, that a gallantry award to a police officer is in reality, a political maneuver? And maybe, when you are saying something like that, you have to be afraid.

Batla House also made it sound like the police department only uses brute force and the power of the officers to wield their gun to get what they want, prove what they want. So, by the time the film moves into “strategy” mode from “assault” mode, we are well into the second half and thus too late.

Unfortunately, the script isn’t one that could be lifted up by the actors. And this is not for want of effort from the actors. In fact, to some extent, John Abraham is able to convey Sanjay’s vulnerability–something we don’t really expect from him. Mrunal Thakur does her bit as an angry wife, a caring wife, a dutiful news reporter. This is despite her discomfort with sounding moronic while addressing her husband with a ‘ji’! The rest of the characters are the stock pick from any film in this genre. A supportive boss here, an instructive politician there, a loyal team and so on. The actor who plays the interrogated terrorist did a wonderful job of switching from innocent to fanatic and back.

For a film that wanted to say so much needed a little more conviction and had to be a lot crisper. The film claims to want to give a balanced point of view, and that is worthy of applause. But it balances by showing the side it is on, meekly. This makes the film neither here nor there for the audience.

- meeta, a part of the audience

34 reviewers(?) - 12 yays 14 so-so 8 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...Batla House is a film that allows us the audience to come to our own conclusions about remedial guilt and compromised absolution. In not giving us a solution it provides the best option to a society that clearly doesn’t want to learn from the lessons served up by history.... full review

Thumbs up, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, BATLA HOUSE is a powerful saga which is sure to spark off discussions and debates. The relevant plot, watertight screenplay, clapworthy moments and terrific performance by John Abraham makes BATLA HOUSE one of the finest films of the year. At the box office, it will have a promising run. Recommended!... full review

Thumbs up, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ...John Abraham's sincere act, some solid dialoguebaazi and well-executed action sequences make 'Batla House' an engaging watch. I am going with 3.5 stars.... full review

Thumbs up, by Vishal Verma, Glamsham.com : ...BATLA HOUSE is a massy/crowd pleasing distillation of Operation Batla House that manages to share some facts on heroisms, valour, faith, religion and the politics behind. It also checks the reality between fake and real encounters, the ethics behind protest where John Abraham surpasses himself as an actor as DCP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav. Going with generous four - an extra for John, and the topicality odf the subject.... full review

Thumbs up, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Batla House gains all the marks in keeping us thrilled till the end. John Abraham’s flawless performance, Nikkhil Advani’s effortless direction and Ritesh Shah’s absorbing story help the story to flourish in its own enthralling way. Informs you things in an exciting manner!... full review

Thumbs up, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...At the centre of it all is of course Abraham, who doesn't always inspire much confidence for a film of this sort. Calm, restrained, completely undemonstrative, action super-star Abraham appears to be even channelling his inner 'Aamir Khan', if you observe him closely on occasion! Yup, quite a revelation.... full review

Thumbs up, by Gayatri Nirmal, MiD DAY : ...On the whole, Batla House is the perfect watch on Independence Day with friends and family.... full review

Thumbs up, by Pankhurie Mulasi, Movie Talkies : ...But yes, the makers have taken a lot of cinematic liberties. Cinematography, CGI and VFX are top notch, background score is nice and the film entertains you thoroughly. It’s a feel good film and every Indian will feel proud after watching it.... full review

Thumbs up, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...Fatehi gyrating to the rendition of “O Saki Saki”, Abraham packing his punches with a pinch of expression and a climax that finds multiple medals jostling for space on the hero’s inflated chest — it’s safe to say, this one has something for everyone.... full review

Thumbs up, by Vaibhavi V Risbood, Pinkvilla : ...In brevity, Batla House is a movie made for those who want to revisit the pages of history. On the Independence Day, the police officers deserve a film like Batla House to remind us that there is a world in between the two extremes of ‘memes’ and the ‘hyper-national portrayal of the forces’.... full review

Thumbs up, by Joginder Tuteja, Planet Bollywood : ...Overall too the film stays on to be quite effective with the entire team of actors, including Mrunal Thakur, Ravi Kishen, Manish Chaudhary, Kranti Prakash Jha, Rajesh Sharma, Nora Fatehi and the rest supporting John Abraham really well. It is to good credit of Nikkhil Advani that he channelises his resources quite well and gives audiences a film that deserves a watch on the big screen.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sreeparna Sengupta,, Times of India : ...Despite some of the flaws, 'Batla House' makes for a gripping, intense watch.... full review

So-So, by Deepa Gahlot, Deepa Gahlot : ...John Abraham has wisely begun to choose roles and back films that play to his strengths–a solid physique and a face that can be granite-like– he barely cracks a smile in the film, but makes for a convincingly angry and beleagured cop. None of the other actors have much to do except prop him up, so that he can shoulder the burden of carrying a film which retains some level of complexity, despite simplifying the politics (and adding an item number) to appeal to a mainstream audience, that prefers everything to be black and white, when many shades of grey exist.... full review

So-So, by Susri Sahu, DNA : ...Verdict: John is on his home turf as he portrays the role of a decorated officer; it’s nothing we have not already seen. Watch it for the depiction of real-life incidents and the obvious cinematic liberties. It’s not really the Independence Day treat but makes for a good one-time watch.... full review

So-So, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...I wonder if the film might have batted so hard for the Delhi Police if not for its unidimensional hero. But Batla House is forced to take a stand. And it does, in good conscience. Which is more than can be said about other Hindi movies of whitewashed history.... full review

So-So, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...All-in-all, the film does try to portray how the police is pressured from all sides while dealing with high profile cases. It has also pointed out how ghettoisation of a certain community has made the police's job harder. It does suffer from sloppy writing in places but that doesn't mar its overall impact. In real life, a police officer lost his life and the police had to battle a smear campaign. Let's hope this film exorcises the ghosts of the infamous incident and provides closure once and for all...... full review

So-So, by UDITA JHUNJHUNWALA, FirstPost : ...Thumping background music accentuates drama, emotional angst and suspense. In true Bollywood style, a typical item number pops up as does a ballad. Yet Batla House feels burdened by its patriotic ambitions and by repetition (including numerous frames of police officers exchanging side-long glances). This pushes the running time to over 140 minutes, and comprises its core story with superfluous Bollywood-isation.... full review

So-So, by R.M. Vijayakar, India West : ...In the film version, the hero asks the judge two uncomfortable questions in the climax. We wonder why he (or even the real cop, if this gaffe was applicable there as well) did not ask the real McCoy: How come allegedly harmless students living together had machine guns? Advani needs to amp up his filmmaking abilities.... full review

So-So, by Kamaal R Khan, Khaleej Times : ...Batla House is more an investigation-based movie rather than the real encounter that shook the nation. And that's why only a select audience is likely to like the film. People would watch an investigative crime series at home as it fails to give the goosebumps of the infamous encounter. I can say it's not an unmissable movie and can be watched to pass time on a weekend.... full review

So-So, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Batla House held together by a steady and solid star turn by John Abraham, leaves you with a feeling that it had the potential to be an absolute humdinger. But stray flashes apart, the dramatised true story drifts too far from the heart of the matter without delivering the expected drama. All said and done, the lead actor delivers, so his fans have no reason not to watch Batla House.... full review

So-So, by Rajeev Masand, News18.com : ...I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for Batla House. It’s never a complete waste of time, but there was potential for so much more.... full review

So-So, by Rohit Vats, News18.com : ...Batla House has ingredients to keep you engaged for more than 140 minutes, provided which side are you on—activists who still smell a foul play or police that claims to have not heard of anything substantial from Indian Mujahideen after that September encounter!... full review

So-So, by Piyush Chopra, Now Running.com : ...Batla House boasts of a taut first half and a confident turn by John Abraham in the lead, only to be undone by uneven writing and a wasted climax. However, if it's patriotism you're looking for this weekend at a theater near you, this Nikkhil Advani film is not the worst bet you can make.... full review

So-So, by Vinayak Chakravorty, Sify Movies : ...Batla House could have been a terrific film. It remains a tepid effort.... full review

So-So, by Anusha Iyengar, Times Now : ...John Abraham has a stronger role to play in the cop drama that is based on real life incidents. The film increases pace after interval and keeps you hooked on to the screens.... full review

So-So, by Ritika Handoo, Zee News : ..."Batla House" could have been a terrific film. It remains a tepid effort.... full review

Thumbs down, by SUPARNA SHARMA, Deccan Chronicle : ...At some point towards the end of the film, the ACP and his team start pursuing the escaped terrorists, one of whom is eventually nabbed in a sequence that is mildly tense and exciting.... full review

Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...In a powerful melodramatic motif, Abraham keeps rubbing his medal, imagining it to be blood-stained, a la Lady Macbeth. At one point he asks if there has ever been another police encounter where an Inspector has been shot — a tacit suggestion that other encounters without slain cops are mostly staged. His legal defence intriguingly includes the phrase “binary opposition,” but doesn’t move beyond a mention. There was merit to the idea, but I wish they’d rubbed at it harder..... full review

Thumbs down, by Sandeep Unnithan, india today : ...The protagonist, as we always know, is never in any real danger of losing either his job or credibility because the film clearly establishes the sequence of events early on. The Rashomon Effect, contradictory interpretations of a single event, is only introduced towards the end. By then, the film's conclusion is like most other police encounters. Fairly predictable.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...In other news, Nora Fatehi gets a small speaking part, as well as bump-and-grind number.... full review

Thumbs down, by Prasanna D Zore, Rediff : ...Unlike Madras Cafe, however, Abraham's Kumar sulks big time throughout the film in an effort to win your sympathy for facing the consequences of doing his job as an honest and upright police officer.... full review

Thumbs down, by SHILPA JAMKHANDIKAR, Reuters : ...What transpired at Batla House remains unclear, and Indian courts continue to hear cases linked to the encounter to this day. As far as this film is concerned, there is no room for debate. In true Bollywood tradition, “Batla House” chooses to hide its grays under black and white.... full review

Thumbs down, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...Some of the lines are accompanied by an echo effect, as though to emphasise their gravitas. What is being said, however, is immaterial. “I don’t need drama, but an answer to questions,” declares Kumar’s superior, played by Manish Chaudhary. It goes unnoticed, like everything else that constitutes an alternative point of view in this operation against the right to raise doubts, however uncomfortable they may be. I ask myself every single day – was I wrong, wonders Sanjeev Kumar. Batla House isn’t even listening to its main character.... full review

Thumbs down, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...The means and methods of the police, however, seem utterly jerky, inept and at times, stupid to say the least. It all gets neatly wrapped up in a convenient climax after an item number by Nora Fatehi. Just when we thought item numbers were so boring and passé.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Gun fights, people beating other people up
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: Accomplished police officers defend themselves against allegations of fake encounters
  • General Look and Feel: Dreary

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

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