Netflix Thriller Vadh Is A Delight For All Sanjay Mishra And Neena Gupta Fans

Vadh, on Netflix, is an absolutely must watch if you can handle a little gore, a nuanced Bollywood movie with an unexpected twist.

As the trailer of the film suggests, Vadh (2022) is about an old couple, Shambhunath (Sanjay Mishra) and Manju Mishra (Neena Gupta) who find themselves entangled in a debt trap after they fail to repay a loan they had procured from an influential local moneylender in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. What starts as the couple getting regularly bullied by the extortioner eventually leads Shambhunath to commit a murder which forms the second half of the narrative.

If we compare Vadh and Drishyam which had a similar premise

Unlike the films of the Drishyam series (2015-2022), Vadh does not involve a cat and mouse chase between the police and the protagonist. In fact, there is no mystery or revelation waiting for the viewers at the end of the story at all. The film, on the other hand, maintains a clear stance throughout about Shambhunath not doing anything immoral even if his actions are illegal, which is contrary to the message that Drishyam and other similar films have tried to give to the audiences.

Additionally, the filmmakers try hard to paint a negative, yet neutral picture of the extortioner, Prajapati Pandey (Saurabh Sachdeva). They show him harassing the couple by bringing meat to their vegetarian household and using their bedroom for engaging in sexual activities. However, they also reveal that Pandey is a loving father to his only daughter with the latter being deeply attached to him. By doing so, Vadh gives Shambhunath Mishra every reason to feel the same amount of guilt that Vijay Salgaonkar experiences in Drishyam. Yet, Mishra remains firm throughout.

Sanjay Mishra’s portrayal of the main character

Those of us who are aware of how brilliant Sanjay Mishra truly is as an actor would acknowledge how underrated he is in Bollywood. Mishra, in every way, deserves to be appreciated for his creative choices instead of solely being viewed as a comic element in films like those from the Golmaal series (2006-Present).

In Vadh, he makes the viewers emotional in the simplest of scenes such as the one in which he goes to a bakery store to buy cake for his student. Neither do such scenes have hard-hitting or heavy dialogues nor do they frame the overall plot line of the film, but they still give Mishra a chance to shine through his effortless portrayal of a retired middle class old man.

Even in the climax of the film, Mishra’s subtle, yet powerful acting is capable of leaving the viewers in tears. One might wonder whether it is the screenplay of the film or the chemistry shared between Mishra and Gupta or whether it is the protagonist himself that is making them root for Shambhunath and Manju Mishra in the narrative.

Shambhunath and Manju Mishra

While Sanjay Mishra’s dialogue delivery seems much more convincing than Neena Gupta’s in the film, the two still share incredible chemistry in the film. One finds them exchanging sentimental glances after being troubled by Prajapati Pandey with each trying to support the other. The symbiotic relationship between Shambhunath and Manju Mishra is highlighted and developed in each scene (like one scene in which he is shown massaging her painful, arthritic knees with oil) with the viewers finally being made to ponder whether or not either of them would be able to survive without their partner.

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Furthermore, the strength of their bond becomes all the more visible when the two find themselves in a nightmarish situation after a murder is committed within their household. Following that, while Shambhunath tries to act in ways that would bring his wife peace, Manju attempts to conceal her own fears to save him.

The supporting characters

Saurabh Sachdeva’s acting career started quite recently as compared to that of the other senior actors in Vadh. He has, nonetheless, portrayed some memorable characters such as Suleiman Isa (or simply Isa) in Sacred Games (2018-19) and Malik in Good Luck Jerry (2022). Some might argue that he is getting typecast as a mafia boss, but many would also recognise how different each of his portrayals have been. Even in his limited number of scenes in Vadh, Sachdeva manages to create a lasting impression on the viewers by compelling them to detest Prajapati Pandey while also worrying about what he might do next.

Alongside Sachdeva, Manav Vij also impresses us with his acting. Vij is so versatile as an actor that it will be hard for someone to believe that it is he who played the supporting role of a cop in Udta Punjab (2016), as well—Inspector Jhujhar Singh in Udta Punjab is, indeed, so different from Inspector Shakti Singh in Vadh. Additionally, his silent look and dialogue exchanges with Mishra only enrich the overall experience of watching the characters together.

Vadh might have a disturbing theme, but it is a must watch for anyone who can handle the small amounts of gore in it. Despite how different it is from films that are considered to be thrillers or mysteries or dark comedies, the film is worth spending 109 minutes on even if it is just to witness  Sanjay Mishra’s flawless acting.

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Upasana Dandona

A dysgraphic writer who spends most of her time watching (and thinking about) Bollywood films. read more...

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