A lot can be said about a movie that bets its core message on a plot about dogs going missing. Sure, cute dogs are used in movies all the time, but Lakadbaggha by Victor Mukherjee isn’t just using dogs’ cultural or sentimental value to drive home its point. Its characters are embroiled in a philosophical battle happening in the background, while the topic of animal abuse grips us in the foreground.
Lakadbaggha revolves around Arjun Bakshi, a young man who works as a delivery boy for a courier service but has a hidden life as a dog-loving vigilante. He starts taking down the goons of a trafficker who is dealing in drugs and dog meat. Arjun soon finds himself hounded by both him and the police after he rescues a rare hyena.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In ‘Lakadbaggha’?
Arjun Bakshi loves dogs more than anything else in the world. Working at a local courier service, his physical stature might not reveal that he teaches martial arts to kids. Another incredible fact about him is that the police are looking for him. Actually, they are after a masked vigilante who is taking down local goons one by one. They aren’t aware that their suspect is, in fact, Arjun, who doesn’t kill the goons but maims them and leaves them to be caught by the police. Why is he in the vigilante business? Well, the goons that he attacks are involved in dog trafficking, stuffing the poor animals with drugs and smuggling them offshore. It’s quite an unheard-of and brutal new way of trafficking drugs, but apparently, dog-meat consumption is also a secondary way for these traffickers to make money for a mysterious kingpin. But Arjun is not even aware of the heinous crime. He only cares about saving his beloved dogs from the people who mean them harm; he knows the world is full of animal abusers.
Akshara D’Souza, a crime branch officer, has been appointed to the case of finding this masked vigilante who is taking the law into their own hands. She gets handed her divorce papers by Arjun, who comes to the station in the capacity of a delivery boy but sees the walls are riddled with information about the masked vigilante. The cases of missing dogs keep rising, which means that Arjun isn’t going to retire from vigilantism any time soon, even though he knows that the police might be on to him. One day, Arjun isn’t able to locate a stray dog named Shonku and goes on to search for him on the streets of Kolkata. Luckily, Akshara notices Arjun and recognizes him as the delivery boy. She helps him file a missing dog report at the local police station after seeing his passion for dogs. In a sheer case of dramatic irony, Arjun’s intense love for dogs makes Akshara grow friendly toward him. She goes on a date with him and even spends time at his house, even though she is scared of off-leash dogs. While she is unaware that Arjun is the vigilante she is after, Arjun is unaware that Akshara’s brother Aryan is the abominable trafficker responsible for the disappearance of the stray dogs.
How Does Arjun’s Path Collide With Aryan’s?
Arjun is a vigilante, for sure, but he is not the detective kind. He isn’t someone who would try to figure out the sinister reason behind the dogs’ disappearances. There is a rumor that people sometimes use dog meat in local cuisines, but most of it is hearsay. Arjun’s boss, Dutta Uncle, told him not to worry about the rumors and not to take the dog-lover stuff too seriously, but fate ensured that Arjun would get further sucked into the vigilante life. When a delivery from “Claws and Fangs Pet Shop” goes wrong, he beats up the suppliers for negligent and inhumane treatment of pet dogs in their facility. He didn’t know that the shop was part of a chain of pet shops that was owned by Aryan. The men were actually goons working for him, and when Arjun came to beat them up, they were transporting a hyena, which attacked the men, but Arjun was able to rescue it.
Aryan wasn’t too bothered the vigilante when he had previously disrupted his operations. The hyena was a special assignment, though. It was to be smuggled straight to Dubai for Mr. Gandhi, who was a local politician and had the power to help Aryan get the license for Khidirpur Dock, which would make the trafficking totally hassle-free. Arjun had inadvertently stopped this transaction, which infuriated the otherwise calm and composed Aryan. Arjun even found out that the rumors behind dog meat being used in local cuisines were actually true, and the same racket that was transporting the hyena was behind the illegal meat trafficking as well. Shonku was a victim of the racket, and Arjun vowed to get to the bottom of it all.
How Does Arjun Stop Aryan?
Arjun didn’t even know who he was fighting. Aryan was probably waiting for his sister, who was completely in the dark about her brother’s criminal racket, to catch the vigilante before he had to send his men to find and kill him. The common link between Arjun and Aryan is Akshara. It so happens that Aryan runs a dog competition where Arjun wants to participate, entering his pet dog named Colonel into the competition, but because Indian breeds aren’t allowed, he isn’t let in. Akshara tries to cheer Arjun up and gets him a dinner meeting with Aryan, and he agrees to hear Arjun’s case for letting his dog compete.
The criminal, and the vigilante both sit at the same dinner table, unaware of each other’s secret reality. The cop too is totally oblivious to the truth. The dinner commences and Aryan declines Arjun’s request to let his dog participate in the competition. Arjun gets a clear sense that Aryan is not a good man as he believes that dogs don’t have souls, which is why he shot the dog that bit Akshara as a child. Aryan was running out of time to deliver the hyena to Mr. Gandhi, and he was getting desperate, which is why he killed his own men who had failed to locate the hyena. He employs his assassin girlfriend on the job, who starts to threaten the well-being of stray dogs to lure in the masked vigilante and Arjun doesn’t disappoint. He fights her but eventually gets knocked out, and Aryan finally gets to know the face behind the mask. His girlfriend abducts Arjun’s pet dog, Colonel, in order to make Arjun disclose the hyena’s location. Arjun shows up at a compound, fights Aryan and his men, and with the hyena’s help, kills all of them.
‘Lakadbaggha’ Ending Explained: What Does The Hyena Symbolize?
Throughout the film, there is a simmering debate about whether Arjun is a hero or a villain for taking the law into his own hands. According to Akshara, who is initially totally honest and idealistic in her approach, the vigilante is a criminal, fitting in the same category of thieves and murderers. Whoever takes the law into their hands is a criminal to her, pure and simple. For Arjun, as long as the vigilante doesn’t kill someone, he is on the right side of things. In one heated argument, Arjun compares the vigilante to a hero, while she sees it as a case of anarchy. She perceives Arjun’s thought process as seeing the vigilante as the hero and the police force, with all their modern laws, as the actual enemy.
When the video of Arjun being unmasked gets to Akshara, she goes in to arrest him, but Arjun escapes. He had once alluded to the battle between Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji and the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb to drive home the point that only time revealed whether someone was a heroic vigilante or a despicable anarchist. When her own brother is found to be the sadistic mastermind behind the entire trafficking racket, she finally understands Arjun’s point of view. He wasn’t out to spread anarchy in the system, and he had already lost Shonku because of the cops’ failure. He was simply using his skills in martial arts to save the poor dogs from further cruelty.
The hyena represented the courage, righteousness, and restrained use of violence that are essential to fighting crime. It symbolized control over one’s own darkness. In the end, Akshara is seen doing the exact same routine of feeding the stray dogs as Arjun used to. She finally realized that it wasn’t a case of vigilantes versus cops but vigilantes and cops together against actual criminals. The course of events also helped her to face her own fear of dogs, and she finally tapped into the courage of the hyena inside her to overcome it, so in the end, she was at ease feeding the dogs. If Arjun ever misused his skills, that is when he would have succumbed to the completely animalistic nature of the darkness inside. The abuse of his powers would transform him from a vigilante into an anarchist or a murderer like Aryan. But until then, Akshara was by his side, caring for the stray dogs together.
Lakadbaggha is a 2023 crime comedy film directed by Victor Mukherjee.