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Director Vikramaditya Motwane does a splendid job of subverting a slew of cinematic tropes that’s expected of a superhero film such as Bhavesh Joshi.

It turns it back defiantly on employing hyper-masculine heroes to save the world or planting a highly sexualised female character as eye-candy. Motwane also does away that token scene of a bunch of determined guys doing a power-walk in absolute harmony as loud music blares just before intermission.

While that’s a relief, this dark, vigilante drama isn’t without its share of flaws and missteps. It’s painfully long with its 175-minute running time and is mind-numbingly bleak with its subdued and dark lighting effect creating a recurring morbid atmospherics.

The characters in Bhavesh Joshi Superhero are also painfully ordinary and resolutely toothless as they fight an establishment filled with dishonourable, apathetic men.

The movie begins with two idealistic and zealous young men — Sikander (Harshvardhan Kapoor) and Bhavesh Joshi (Priyanshu Painyuli) — who are happy to rebel against the establishment and fight for their rights as Mumbai residents. They are never the proverbial bride, but the bridesmaid when it comes to protesting and getting their voice heard. They fight from the side-lines and take on causes that plague a common man in their daily lives.

Greasing the palm of government officials to secure a passport or launching an amateurish investigation into the shortage of water supply in Mumbai localities are their biggest battles. They are coltish and awkward in their attempts to weed out corruption linked to water shortage, but there’s a definite charm to their amateurish combat.

Painyuli shines in the titular role as the young man who’s disenchanted by the rotting system around him. He’s earnest and his sincere act makes you root him and his selfless angst. Ashish Sharma as their perennially pragmatic friend also delivers. While Kapoor gets the maximum screen time as he turns into a masked crusader on a vengeance and redemption trail, he isn’t armed with a charismatic aura that would make us invested in him. He displays sparks of brilliance, but he underplays his emotions and that cripples a drama that was in bad need of a silver lining jolt.

But credit has to be given to the actors and its director for being consistently dystopian. They don’t cop out by giving us neatly-packaged utopian endings, but it may have come at the expense of the viewers feeling underwhelmed.

Forget Kapoor’s characters saving the day, he sucks the daylight out of us by presenting to us a reality that’s painfully real and rooted in today’s times.

The over-stretched thriller is also a stark reminder of the troubled times we live with mob justice and digital warriors shaping public opinion.

The film is also dominated by men with the women having limited voice.

If you are looking for closure or a solution to a corrupt-free world, the valiant heroes of this film aren’t going to swoop down to rescue you. They may just remind you that the world isn’t a pretty place.

Check it out!

Film: Bhavesh Joshi Superhero

Director: Vikramaditya Motwane

Cast: Harshvardhan Kapoor, Priyanshu Painyuli and Ashish Verma

Stars: 2 out of 5