Almost a fortnight after the closure, which was only the beginning of what was to come, Tezpur, a village about 1,000 km from Delhi, is witnessing a surge in the number of migrants seeking to enter. The government decides to close the borders of the village and hundreds are stuck outside fighting the pandemic and their situation.
Bheed Movie Review: Screenplay Analysis
For us city dwellers, the pandemic was more about being out of our homes and going about our daily lives than fighting for survival. Yes, we have had our problems too, but for most of us there has never been a situation where we had to choose between life and death. For the migrants who had to leave Maximum City and move to their villages, they fought a battle, a fight for their lives and a fight to save every bit of it if they could. Filmmakers have been trying to capture the situation through their lens for the past two years, but no one has managed to crack the idea in a bulletproof way.
Armed with writers Sonali Jain and Saumya Tiwari, Anubhav Sinha decided to tell the story through a lens that captures the responses of the underprivileged to the pandemic. It’s quite a new perspective to see boundaries and try to cross them as another divide. Because it was. The civilized system turned migrants into laborers, but never cared for them on judgment day. The boundary is more mental than physical and the effort is to cross it. In Sinha’s favor is how he chooses to position the story he has written. His story begins on day 14 of lockdown, when we were all confused and borderline misled. Even the most learned of us.
In this situation, he takes his story right to the core of a landscape that believes in the advancements of WhatsApp and has no awakened moods to see the update through a moral compass. Add to this the fact that we are a country obsessed with our fragile religious and caste sentiments; Sinha has a full plate. Sinha is to be commended for effortlessly showing how COVID-19 only added to the already existing mess and that their pride really didn’t matter to a large section of society.
But while there is so much that creates a strong premise, Anubhav’s gesture is to sidestep the stereotypes that work against him. There’s a very strong, in-your-face stereotype in the way he presents each individual character. Pankaj Kapur plays a watchman who migrates with his family. The first line he says is “Mein hi aapki Mercedes dhota hoon roj (I wash your car every day),” over a phone call to his employer. Or how Rajkummar Rao established himself as an escape from the marked lower caste. Or how Muslims were labeled as villains as a political agenda. There is no room for subtlety in how he chooses to bring these characters in. Even before we know their names, we are told about the atrocities in their lives in a very cartoonish way. In places where the reactions have to be even more dramatic to grab attention, it feels more like a game than a movie.
The conversation at one point completely revolves around caste and how the hierarchy crushes those below. Although this subject is close to Sinha and he made a film about it in which he talks about it (Article 15), its recurring presence suggests his mild Savior complex more than disturbingly. For example, Thappad was an interview that had a conclusion. It is not universal but personal and it resonates with some and has some reaction too. But it still felt important to me. Here, the conversation just continues with no outcome in sight or personal victory that makes you want to stick around for a few more movies. It’s a critical discussion that should be happening on every mainstream platform, but how we need to do it should also be important.
Bheed: Star Performance Movie Review
Rajkummar Rao plays Surya, an underdog who is now a police officer. There are so many nuances in how Anubhav and Raj together established this man who learned to only take orders and never give them from the lowest level. Now it’s his test where he has power over how he uses it. Add to that the world won’t let him forget his roots and use them as a weapon against him. Rao has a special ability to be vulnerable on screen and he does it very well.
As a girl from the top of the hierarchy, Bhumi Pednekar has had her fair share of problems. The actress is amazing at what she does. But the script focuses more on her romantic inclination towards Surya than what she goes through as a doctor. The two get an unnecessary intimate sequence about how even after surya rises above he is still afraid to touch a higher cast girl, he forgets about s*xing but it doesn’t end well. Their dynamic will definitely end up unfinished.
Pankaj Kapur is a seasoned artist and tries to capture the evil of this setting in words. It is used as the voice of those waiting at the border, but it is also stereotypical in many ways. Kritika Kamra is promising and impressive as a journalist. But her arc ends at the point where she ends with an ‘Incredible India’ monologue and goes no further. Journalism at this time experienced a paradigm shift in both negative and positive ways, and its arc does not even serve the tip of the iceberg.
Unfortunately, Dia Mirza gets the most heat as a divorcee who races with her ex-husband to get to their daughter and doesn’t care if some people die along the way. She gets one scene where she flaunts her privilege and one where someone makes her acknowledge it. Nothing in between.
Bheed Movie Review: Direction, Music
Anubhav Sinha has a lot to say about the situation and it shows in the way he frames the topics in the same framework. The best part is how they put a working mall right on the border where the immigrants are stuck. Some of them were daily wage laborers in the construction of this mall, but now they are not allowed inside. The character even says at one point, ‘Mall ban jaane ke baad uske andar mazdoor ke jaane ki parampara nhi hai.’ It says so much about how we treat people.
In an effort to draw attention to greater evils, the film completely forgets the medical chaos, the lack of resources and the safety of women. The landscape in which the story is set provides ample space for these discussions, but never creates them.
DOP Soumik Mukherjee (Thappad) does a great job capturing this world. The idea of making a monochrome film is not easy and its realization is a nightmare. Everyone from the set designer to the costumes to the hair has to be extra in sync because there are no colors to cover.
Anurag Saikia’s music is strong, especially Herail Ba; it captures the whole situation and is a gut-wrenching work of art.
Bheed: The Last Word Movie Review