Starring Tamannaah Bhatia,Saurav Shukla, Abhishek Bajaj
Directed by Madhur Bhandarkar
Although Madhur Bhandarkar’ s Babli Bouncer is not as probing and revealing about the world of club bouncers as Chandni Bar was about bar girls, and although it is not as good as Bhandarkar’s Fashion or Page 3, it is still superior to the director’s recent films, and a lot better than some of the crap that hit theatres and OTT this week.
Tamannaah Bhatia in the title role is the narrative’s mainstay, though to say that she is the only reason to watch the film is a bit of an exaggeration. Though the writing could have been a lot sharper, I nonetheless found the plot to be taut and fraught with grit and guts. It is always a pleasure to visit films that show women invading what is traditionally the main domain, like Taapsee Pannu as the cricketer in Shabaash Mithu.
Tamannaah and Bhandarkar have created a far more ebullient bubbly and bouncy world in Babli Bouncer than Shabaash Mithu. The writing is lively and energetic though it could have avoided some of the more predictable plotholes, like all those aborted attempts at Babli being forced into an unwanted marriage. In all these dekha-dekhi encounters the girl is too smart to be cornered by the nerdy husband.Not funny.
Moving on, Babli manipulates her parents(Sourabh Shukla’s dad act is severely underwritten) and her fiancé Kukku(an excellent Sahil Vaid) to let her migrate from her hometown in Haryana to Delhi to become a bouncer at a night club .
The club sequences are well written and Upaasana Singh as the freeloader Dolly Chadha(any relation to Laal Singh?) is a hoot.
Tamannaah is constantly credible as the bouncer. Her body language even in the songs and dances is that of a woman who knows how to occupy space in a patriarchal domain, like Shabana Azmi in Godmother. Tamannaah’s Babli is a truckload of energy and mischief. She is also superb at showing her middle finger to social niceties. She burps and belches at will , and drinks herself silly when she wants.
This is a wonderfully written part(it could have done with some self-control, though) and Tamannaah obviously had fun doing it. I wish she had more meat to chew on. Delving any deeper into the upbeat but shadowy world of female bouncer is not Bhandarkar’s scene. He is happy serenading the surface-level reality of workingclass modalities . The more probing cinema he leaves to Anurag Kashyap and gang.
Depth defying discrepancies apart, there is never a dull moment in Babli Bouncer . When Babli says ‘Phuk You’ to Viraj(Abhishek Bajaj) the man she has the hots for(good to see a woman specially from a non-metropolitan and who rejects her calling her uncouth) and walks of in slo-mo, I could hear the applause in the theatre.