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Bad Cop Review: Gulshan Devaiah and Anurag Kashyap-starrer is a high-octane ride hampered by cliches

Bad Cop, a new series debuting today on Hotstar, features Gulshan Devaiah in a dual role as identical twins, Karan and Arjun. Anurag Kashyap stars as the antagonist Kazbe.

Rahul Pratyush Published on: June 21, 2024 13:41 IST
Bad Cop Review
Bad Cop ReviewPhoto:TMDB
  • Movie Name:Bad Cop
  • Critics Rating: 2.5 / 5
  • Release Date: June 21, 2024
  • Director: Aditya Datt
  • Genre: Thriller, Action, Comedy

‘Bhaag Arjun’ is an iconic line from the 1995 cult classic ‘Karan Arjun.’ In the first episode of ‘Bad Cop,’ Karan, played by Gulshan Devaiah, says the same line to his brother Arjun, also played by Gulshan Devaiah, during a gunfight. This scene made me wonder why the dialogue from Karan Arjun still feels thrilling while it sounds cringe in Bad Cop. Concluded that the timing of the releases and the redundancy in movie-making are key factors. 

This issue highlights why many films and series in India are facing backlash or underperforming. Creators often reuse successful formulas, assuming what worked before will work again. Whether it's music, song remixes, action sequences, storylines, or dialogues, Bollywood tends to repeat past successes, hoping for the same results. Bad Cop suffers from the same treatment. It feels like a 70s cops-and-robbers tale with 90s execution, combined with 2024 technology, resulting in a disappointing mix.

Bad Cop begins with Arjun and his girlfriend setting up a honey trap to rob a man in a hotel room. Amid a series of comedic mishaps, Arjun attempts to flee but ends up witnessing the murder of a journalist. In trying to save the man, he gets covered in blood, leaving his DNA at the crime scene. The next shot introduces Karan, a police officer who is interrogating a local goon when his superior, Devika, who is later revealed to be his wife, interrupts him. A series of events leads Karan and Arjun into a gunfight with Kazbe's henchmen, resulting in both getting shot and falling into a river. Here, the central twist unfolds: Arjun somehow takes Karan's place, assuming his identity with no one aware of the switch. The rest of the story follows Arjun as he navigates Karan's life and seeks to uncover the truth behind the chaotic events.

Disney+ Hotstar's offering, Bad Cop, roars onto the screen with a promise of a thrilling cops-and-robbers saga. Starring Gulshan Devaiah and Anurag Kashyap, the series boasts slick action sequences and a talented cast. However, beneath the glossy surface lies a narrative riddled with cliches and predictable plotlines. Mind you this review is based on the first 6 out of 8 episodes provided.

In Bad Cop, there's an occasional attempt to explore themes such as the blurred lines between good and evil. For instance, one moment shows an elephant being beheaded, and the next depicts a Ganpati pooja. While the show tries to delve deeper into this theme, these intriguing elements are never fully developed, leaving viewers wanting more. The series excels in its technical aspects. The action sequences are well-choreographed and keep the adrenaline pumping. The cinematography is sharp, capturing the bustling streets of Mumbai and the dense forests where Kazbe operates. The background score adds to the tension and excitement.

However, Bad Cop stumbles when it comes to the narrative. The plot, adapted from a 2017 German show of the same name, feels uninspired and derivative. The characters, despite the strong performances of Gulshan Devaiah and Anurag Kashyap, fall into predictable archetypes. We have the brooding hero, an exasperated wife, the enigmatic villain, and a bunch of forgettable sidekicks.

The series attempts to delve into the personal lives of the characters, particularly Karan's troubled relationship with his wife Devika. While these moments offer a respite from the action, they feel underdeveloped and fail to add any real depth to the story. The twin brother twist, though initially intriguing, loses steam quickly due to its predictable execution.

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Bad Cop stumbles in its narrative. The core plot of a cop chasing a powerful villain feels well-trodden. The series also suffers from underdeveloped characters. Beyond Karan and Devika, the show doesn't invest much time in fleshing out the supporting cast. This makes it difficult to connect with them on a deeper level.

Gulshan Devaiah delivers a commendable performance, effortlessly switching between the contrasting personalities of the brothers. This marks the second occasion where Gulshan Devaiah is playing a dual role on screen, with the first being in the 2018 action-comedy 'Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota.' Devaiah excels in scenes where Arjun is attempting to blend in as Karan, unaware of the details of Karan’s life. His performance vividly portrays the unease of living someone else’s life and juggling dual identities. Anurag Kashyap, in a supporting role, brings his signature intensity to the screen. While his character treads familiar territory, his presence adds a spark to the narrative. Saurabh Sachdeva, as CBI inspector Aarif Khan investigating the murder of his journalist friend, commands attention with his strong screen presence, despite his role being largely limited to shouting at subordinates in frustration. Harleen Sethi, who plays the fiery cop-wife, delivers a solid performance, but her character, like many others, remains one-dimensional. Aishwarya Sushmita, portraying Kiki, Arjun’s girlfriend and a con artist, has limited screen time and a small role, leaving her with little to do.

Bad Cop leans heavily on Bollywood tropes. It features twin identical brothers, a goon who is touted as the most dangerous of all but does nothing more than dance and shout in jail, a law-abiding police inspector, and a CBI officer determined to solve a murder case. The series feels far from original, recycling familiar elements we've seen countless times in Bollywood films, making it feel redundant and cliche. Despite this, Bad Cop undeniably offers entertainment. The action sequences are impressive, the performances are engaging, and the dark humour provides a welcome respite from the tension. However, its reliance on cliches and a predictable plot prevent it from reaching its full potential.

Bad Cop kicks off with two episodes before transitioning to a weekly release. If you're after a mindless thrill ride packed with impressive action sequences, this series might be right up your alley. However, if you crave a more nuanced and engaging narrative, Bad Cop might fall short of your expectations.

The first two episodes of Bad Cop is now streaming on Disney+Hostar.

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