What is the story about?
At the height of the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh, the Pakistani Army mounts an offensive on India's western front, and start bombing all airfields, including Bhuj. The film tells the tale of Squadron Leader Vijay Karnik, the commanding officer of the Bhuj airbase, who, with the help of a nearby village, and 120 soldiers at a nearby post, managed to save Bhuj from falling into enemy hands.
It's always a good thing when Indian filmmakers pluck out stories of bravery from the annals of history and try to bring them to the screen. However, more often than not, these efforts always seem hypernationalist and divorced from reality. Coming on the heels of Amazon Prime Video's Shershaah, which premiered yesterday, Bhuj: The Pride of India had a fantastic real-life story to bring to the screen. Unfortunately, to see the full glory of the film, you must wait until its last hour. The first half feels like a lot to take in: the introduction of all the characters and their back stories, the shoddy VFX and the choppy editing, make the film feel like a rushed job. In fact, Shershaah has an edge over this film in terms of writing.
Having said that, I'd still recommend Bhuj, not because of Abhishek Dudhaiya's screenplay or direction, but because of Ajay Devgn. The actor-producer is unflappable as Squadron Leader Vijay Karnik, who had to make quick decisions in order to save Bhuj and Kutch from falling into enemy hands. He is great in the latter half, especially once the stakes are firmly established. Dudhaiya's handling of the war sequences are handled with finesse, and make the film worth watching in spite of the cartoonish VFX.
Besides Devgn, two actors who stand out in the entire ensemble are Ammy Virk and Sharad Kelkar. Virk plays IAF pilot Vikram Singh Baj, and he is in supreme form as the lion-hearted pilot who somehow transports soldiers in the climax. Kelkar is decent as Col. Nair, who mans the army post with just 120 soldiers till the very end. The rest of the cast--Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha and Nora Fatehi--are average at best.
Music & Other Departments
The cinematography and action sequences are decent, but the VFX is a serious letdown.
The performances of Ajay Devgn, Ammy Virk and Sharad Kelkar.
Weak 1st half
Over-the-top screenplay at a few places
Did I enjoy it?
I enjoyed the second half.
Do I recommend it?
Yes, if you're a fan of nationalist war dramas.