John Abraham, Mrunal Thakur, Manish Chaudhary
There is mayhem all over, people are being killed and the police has decided it is time to take the matters into control. ACP Sanjay Kumar (John Abraham) and his team of executioners take on the task to put these terrorists to rest. The mission is accomplished. Yet, ACP Sanjay Kumar goes under intense scrutiny for killing two alleged Indian Mujahideen operatives and arresting one at Batla House in Delhi. And there are two more who managed to escape and are on the run. Instead of feeling accomplished and victorious, the team suddenly finds itself striving hard to defend their deeds. The media, activists and politicians allege whatever happened at house number L -18, on September 19 of 2008, was nothing but a fake encounter. ACP and his team try their best to prove them otherwise and also attempt to nab the two operatives that have escaped! But the question remains, did our police kill the innocent? Will the ACP be able to justify his stance?
Through the film you notice the director (Nikhil Advani) has tried to relay two sides of the story, trying to be just and impartial but clearly the man has made up his mind, despite the disclaimers that he flashes through the film, the fact is that he is condemning one and justifying the other. Yet you are completely in harmony with what you are seeing onscreen.
The 140 minutes of screen time that Batla House enjoys leave you completely entertained which is more than I had expected to begin with. The credit falls directly on the director and indirectly on John Abraham. Here’s the deal, John over the years has flawlessly managed to get movies that speak to the heart of India. Be it something like Madras Café or a Parmanu – each and every one of his more socially relevant works, speak about India, its people, its problems in a way that makes you sit up and take notice. The Batla House incident has never been forgotten, but the way it has been presented here, despite its obvious cinematic improvisations – leaves you spellbound. John’s knack of picking up good scripts has him ensured from the word go. Yet, anyone who has been following his career would be aware that it is not a one-off instance, so what makes Batla House more special than the rest of his work? The name is Nikhil Advani. What Advani couldn’t ensure under Karan Johar’s tutelage, he has managed through his last couple of releases. The way Advani has showcased John completely beats Abraham’s previous works. There is a calmness in John this time, that helps him own the character he is playing. He does an excellent job as Sanjay Kumar – the man who is battling professionally and personally. The angst in him doesn’t burst in Batla House, instead he lets it simmer and come out in a wholesome performance.
John’s monologue in the film is a must mention. Firstly, John Abraham isn’t the first person you think of when you say monologues but the one he delivered in Batla House can be compared to the Jack Nicholson monologue from A Few Good Men; which in itself is a testimony towards Advani-Abraham rapport. No one else has managed to procure this degree of effective performance from John before.
Supporting John is an outstanding cast and some fantastic cinematography (Saumik Mukherjee); another person who needs a special mention is Maahir Zaveri who has edited the film, making it crisp and entertaining to the core. It is not a perfect film, but it sure has some moments that makes you applaud.