Review: ‘Bhediya,’ starring Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon, Abhishek Banerjee and Deepak Dobriyal

December 12, 2022

by Carla Hay

Varun Dhawan in “Bhediya” (Photo courtesy of Jio Studios)


Directed by Amar Kaushik

Hindi with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in Ziro, India, the horror comedy film “Bhediya” features an all-Indian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A land developer, who is employed by a company that intends to construct roads in a rural area, becomes a werewolf and is suspected of going on a killing spree of humans. 

Culture Audience: “Bhediya” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching predictable horror comedies with stale jokes and substandard acting.

Pictured clockwise from bottom left: Varun Dhawan, Paalin Kabak, Deepak Dobriyal and Kriti Sanon in “Bhediya” (Photo courtesy of Jio Studios)

“Bhediya” is a horror comedy that is neither scary nor funny. It’s a silly werewolf movie where a “surprise reveal” is too easy to predict. The visual effects in Bhediya are overrated and can’t make up for a weak story with too many plot holes.

Directed by Amar Kaushik and written by Niren Bhatt, “Bhediya” (which means “wolf” in Hindi) is just scene after scene of the horror diluting the comedy, and the comedy diluting the horror. The end result is a movie that’s a tonal mess, made worse by the overly exaggerated acting by the principal cast members. The movie’s slapstick comedy is very basic and juvenile, which undermines the serious message environmental protection that “Bhediya” wants to convey.

It’s a movie that tries to do too much in balancing absurdity with real-life issues, but ultimately fails by not being able to do any of it very well. In the beginning of “Bhediya,” two land development employees in their 30s—self-assured Bhaskar (played by Varun Dhawan) and his goofy cousin Janardhan (played by Abhishek Banerjee), nicknamed Jana or JD—go on a trip to visit the small town of Ziro, India. The purpose of this trip is to convince the local people to let the land development company construct a road through Ziro’s forest.

During this trip, Bhaskar (who is the “alpha male” of this duo) and Janardan get acquainted wth two men from Ziro: Jomin (played by Paalin Kabak), who is in his 30s, meets the cousins at the airport and becomes their unofficial tour guide. Panda (played by Deepak Dobriyal) is the liaison officer who has lived in Ziro since he was a child. Therefore, Panda knows a lot Ziro’s secrets.

Bhaskar will soon find out the hard way that one of Ziro’s secrets is that the area has been plagued by werewolves. One night in the woods, Bhaskar gets bitten on the rear end by a black werewolf, which runs away after attacking him. Jomin tells Bhaskar and Janardan that Bhaskar needs immediate treatment from a local veterinarian named Dr. Anika Mittal (played by Kriti Sanon). Bhaskar and Janardan never question why they don’t go to a doctor for humans. It’s one of many sloppily written aspects of “Bhediya.”

It isn’t long before Bhaskar finds out that the werewolf bite has caused him to turn into a werewolf. The rest of “Bhediya” is a drawn-out, redundant caper where Bhaskar is suspected of a series of murders, and he tries to hide his secret identity as a werewolf. Who finds out this secret and when are entirely formulaic in the movie. As for the identity of the black werewolf and why this werewolf bit Bhaskar, the answer to that mystery is also very predictable.

Unfortunately, “Bhediya” has a total running time of 156 minutes, which is excessively too long for a movie that doesn’t have much of a plot. Expect to see a lot of nonsense, including clownish JD shrieking (he has a tendency to scream for his mother when he gets frightened); Bhaskar saying stupid things; and an over-used gag that Bhaskar wears boxer underwear when he becomes a werewolf. As an example of the dimwitted dialogue in “Bhediya,” Bhaskar tries to convince Panda that the werewolf virus can be wiped out by “herd immunity”—as if a pack of werewolves in the community, instead of one or two werewolves, will suddenly make things better.

The action scenes aren’t too interesting because the visual effects look so phony. And because much of the movie wastes time in repetitive scenarios and annoying performances, “Bhediya” quickly becomes a chore to watch. The movie tries to turn into a tearjerker drama in the last 30 minutes, but it just makes “Bhediya” look inconsistent, because it tries too hard to be a wacky comedy for most of its duration. No one is expecting “Bhediya” to be award-worthy, but a movie like this should be more fun to watch instead of being just a long-winded, mindless bore.

Jio Studios released “Bhediya” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on November 25, 2022.

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