Bhaukaal season 2 review: Mohit Raina is surprisingly ineffective in MXPlayer's crime drama
Bhaukaal Season 2 brings the familiar tropes of internecine gang wars in the cow belt, all under the same heaving roof.
Once upon a time in the wasteland that was the cow belt, there lived certain lawmakers who took their jobs seriously and made every effort to eradicate crime from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. At present, the crime rates in the two States is relatively low. This doesn’t prevent digital directors to repeatedly run off into the Northern region for violent bouts of lawless anger, anchored by what looks reams of raw aggression with nary a break for any genuine exploration of the emotional factors that trigger off the characters’ violent behaviour.
One of the salient villains in Season 2 of Bhaukaal is Pinto Pehelwan, played with potbellied acerbity by Pradeep Nagar. What makes Pinto so ruthless? Is it the fiercely competitive spirit of gang wars: the his-gun-is-bigger-than-mine performing anxiety? Be as it might—and might, as we all know is right in gang wars—Pinto and his perverse violence occupies considerable space in the 10-episode bloodbath.
Pinto is almost always shown in the company of his sibling Chintu, played by Siddhant Kapoor who is typecast as a slimy small-time sociopath a role he can perform with his eyes closed.
The actors in Bhaukaal 2 know their job. They go for the kill with sanguinary skill. There are so many villains on endless mass-killing sprees it becomes hard to pick a side. If Pinto/Chintu are despicable, Ashfaq (a rival gangster played with an interesting sliver of sophistication by Ajay Singh Chaudhary) is only slightly less loathsome. And the late Bikramjeet Kanwarpal (who passed away last year and to whom this series is thoughtfully dedicated) as Rana the quietly menacing criminal politician, shows us who the real boss is.
The only important female role in this maelstrom of mayhem and machismo is Bidita Bag. As Nazneen crosses floors from one gang to another via marriage, she shows way too much cleavage to be treated as one of the sharpshooting villains.
So topheavy is the villainous caucus that I am afraid, the our-cop hero Navin Sikhera just doesn’t stand a chance. He and his team of khaki-clad praise-vardi bravehearts come across as surprisingly lame in comparison with the villains whose bestial binge of badass butchery will make you roll your eyes, whenever they don’t make your stomachs churn.
Mohit Raina’s Sikhera comes across as surprisingly ineffective. The pandemic seems to have added some extra weight to Raina’s presence. I expected to see more of the agile angry lawmaker from Season 1. But this time Sikhera seems tired and dissociated from the anarchy that rules Muzaffarnagar. Maybe he has secretly given up.
Sikhera’s lieutenants Bhaati (Digambar Prasad), Balram (Firoz Khan), Vinod (Amitt Singh), Maruti (Ravishankar Pandey), Pawan (Rohan Verma) come across as far more invested in the pledge to make Uttar Pradesh crime-free. An idyllic scenario which would not please the makers of this familiar trigger-happy tale of two shitties, brothers in arms who come to suitably sticky ends.
Though the violence may at times seem excessive Bhaukaal’s Season 2 brings the familiar tropes of internecine gang wars in the cow belt, all under the same heaving roof. There is a sequence towards the end where we see the pernicious Pinto and his wife cradling their baby in their hands. The “baby” is actually just a doll.
But at the end of the show, our cop-hero and his wife are shown with a real baby.
Crime in this way is subconsciously shown to be a self-defeating sterile road to nowhere. If you want your lineage to continue you know which side you need to be on, no matter how adventurous the other side may look. Otherwise, you end up with no legacy, only a doll doubling up as a baby.
Rating: * * *
Bhaukaal 2 is streaming on MXPlayer
Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at SubhashK_Jha
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