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Hindi Reviews

Bulbbul(2020)

A feministic portrayal of social injustices against women, set in classic horror backdrop!!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Set in medieval Bengal, Bulbbul is a feministic fairytale which portrays the resurgence of a woman against the people who have wronged her. It is the journey, spanning 20 years, of an innocent girl who is stolen off her childhood through an unjust marriage.

The story starts in 1881- presidency Bengal, where little Bulbbul is getting married to a rich landlord, Indranil. Bulbbul initially thinks Satya, the younger brother of Indranil, as her husband. It was Satya who comforts her on the way to groom’s royal mansion with his stories . He tells her the story of ‘Chudail’, a murderous blood thirsty demon with twisted legs who lives in the trees. As she grew up, Satya was her only solace in the mansion which had Indranil’s mentally challenged twin brother, Mahendra and his wife Binodini as well. Mahendra developed some curious infatuation towards Bulbbul and often Indranil had to intervene to stop him. The closeness between Satya and Bulbbul does not go well with Indranil and he sends Satya to London for higher studies which shatters her. Satya comes back only after 5 years, but a lot of things have changed. He finds Bulbbul have become an enigmatic woman who currently rules the mansion and his village is marred by so many deaths. The village folks say these are the deeds of ‘Chudail’, but Satya sets out on a mission to find the culprit.

Even though the premise and the substance are of classic horror-revenge saga, the treatment and the imagery elevates the movie as a whole. With writer Anvita Dutt at the helm on her directorial debut, the story moves along as women-centric from start. The resurgence of a woman breaking her shackles to take on the atrocities against women is shown symbolically in this horror fantasy. It was on a full moon that Mahendra brutally rapes a severely bed ridden Bulbbul and kills her. But as she reincarnates to her Chudail version, the moon turns red and so does the night. That’s where the young and naive Bulbbul transforms into the dreaded Chudail to avenge every men in the village who wrong the women. The initial fable of ‘Chudail’ by Satya and how Bulbbul transforms into the dreaded Chudail is brilliantly developed. However, one may feel that the script is quite under written. But for me, the writer had established each of the characters and the script actually opens up the space for your thoughts to be filled in because of this minimalism. Quite surprisingly, there are people who derived ‘a woman who can’t be controlled is a Chudail’ from the narrative.

The writer has brilliantly placed her men in the story. We have four of them and each can be seen as different faces of men in our society. Indranil is a man who has set boundaries for his wife, a man who controls her and thrashes her. He turns jealous when Bulbbul spends time with Satya and starts suspecting her. Mahendra is mentally unstable but has the power and insanity to rape a hapless woman mercilessly. He becomes the face of men who go to any extend to satisfy their desires. While these two are the extremes of male brutality, we can see a third version in Satya. Satya was the childhood companion of Bulbbul as they grew up in the haveli. We see him as a lovable guy. But upon his return from England, we see he couldn’t digest the idea of Bulbbul being the controlling force in the mansion. He tries to dictate how a woman should be and blames her for his bother’s disappearance; a classic example of patriarchy ruling even the minds of a seemingly better person. Bulbbul dismisses him by saying, “You are all same.” Then comes Dr. Sudip. He hates to see women being at the wrong end of male musculinity and shows empathy towards them. He is compassionate and makes genuine effort to keep Bulbbul happy. He never questions Bulbbul and accepts the way she is.

Coming into the making, the visuals are fascinating and haunting at the same time. The images and the art direction recreate the medieval Bengal beautifully and draw you into the narrative from the beginning. The imagery is quite extravagant and beautiful that it often overpowers the substance. The tension created around the mysterious murders of men could have been much more with the use of more suspence and horror elements in the story. The scores by Amit Trivedi may sound familiar but are quite engaging and haunting at times.

The acting department excelled all around with Tripti Dimri leading the way by portraying both vulnerable and enigmatic side of  Bulbbul in terrific fashion. Rahul Bose gave two distinctive displays in his double role as twins. The envious and crooked Binodini was safe in the hands of Paoli Dam. Avinash Tiwari as Satya and Parambrata Chatterjee as Dr. Sudip delivered impressive feats.

Bulbbul at times was hard to sit through with disturbing atrocities against the girl shown on screen and the end could have been more rewarding, but it is a well written feministic fable with some beautifully haunting visuals set in a horror backdrop.

Language        : Hindi                                                                                          Streaming on   : Netflix

By sreenathjvm

I am a healthcare professional. An ardent movie lover. Writing about movies forever has been an obsession.

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