‘Lakadbaggha’ movie review: Anshuman Jha’s film has a wild idea let down by tame execution
In the last few years, the conversation around street dogs has amplified, but in cinema, it hardly finds a mention. In this scenario, director Victor Mukherjee’s animal-loving vigilante, who stands for the native breeds, is an interesting addition to the Indian cine-scape. Also, in a country that often remains fascinated with tigers and elephants, the fact that a film turns its focus on a less glamorous but endangered species like a striped hyena is laudatory.
Set in Kolkata, Lakadbaggha (hyena) follows Arjun (Anshuman Jha), a loner who teaches martial arts to children during the day and turns into a saviour of the street dogs used in the drug and meat trade during the night. As his exploits find traction on social media, the administration sends crime branch officer Akshara (Riddhi Dogra) to find the hooded vigilante whose identity remains mysterious. Akshara and her brother (Paresh Pahuja) dislike animals because of a past incident, but as the case progresses, Akshara and Arjun come close. Things take an interesting turn when Arjun figures out a clandestine animal trade ring dealing in hyenas, the operations of which are headed by Akshara’s brother.
Director: Victor Mukherjee
Cast: Anshuman Jha, Riddhi Dogra, Paresh Pahuja, Milind Soman
Runtime: 128 minutes
Storyline: Follows the life of Arjun, a loner who teaches martial arts to children during the day and turns into a saviour of street dogs during the night
While the intentions are right and some of the fight sequences are impactful, the storytelling gets simplistic and the technique has an amateurish streak that demands too much suspension of disbelief from the audience. Anybody could make out that the shots of the hyena are a cut-and-paste job.
It is hard to believe that Akshara could not crack the identity of Arjun, and the writers don’t explain the motive of Arjun to repeatedly walk into the space of a police officer either. It is equally silly that every character indulges in martial arts just because the protagonist is a martial arts master. Saving stray dogs is a noble idea but nobody would approve of feeding dogs in the middle of a motorable street at night. The strand of Arjun with his father (Milind Soman) also could have been much more striking and the background score doesn’t add much to the mood.
Having said that, persuasive performances save the day for Mukherjee. Anshuman not only gets the body language of a fighter right, but he also captures the pensive demeanour of a boy who loves solitude. He hardly makes eye contact with Akshara and always gives his opponent a chance to redeem himself. Riddhi is likeable as an officer caught between love and duty, and Paresh is sinister as a flamboyant antagonist.
Though not bad, a few more drafts would have turned this wild idea with myriad possibilities into a compelling watch for teenagers and their parents.
Lakadbaggha is currently running in theatres.