Bulbbul Netflix Movie REVIEW

So, directed and written by Anvita Dutt,Bulbbul is a story of a young girl named Bulbbul, married as a child, to a man at least 30 years older than her. You follow her intothis new life as tiny “badi bahu”, watch her come of age, learn of the world,and come face to face with the evil residing in it. In the mix is young Satya, the bade thakur’smuch younger brother, closer in age to Bulbbul, who becomes her friend, her confidant, untilhe’s sent away to London for higher studies. Bulbbul, now alone, and rapidly approaching adulthood,is on her own, and must figure out ways to survive. Jaisa trailer mein bhali bhaantipata chal gaya tha dekhkar, yeh film heavily inspired toh hai hiHindi mythological kahaaniyon se, par woh inspiration sirfstory tak seemit nahi hai. Cinematographer Siddharth Diwan,jinka stellar kaam aapne Trapped, Bhavesh Joshi etc.filmon mein dekha hai, frames almost each shotlike an old timey painting. Growing up, my mother had a copy of Raja Ravi Varma’sfamous Nal Damayanti hung up in the living room – a woman longingly looking at a swan,who may or may not be her husband… I know very little about art. But I do know thateverywhere you look in Bulbbul, Siddharth Diwan has tried to replicate a similaraesthetic, without making it look dated. Yes, the sets are allvery elaborately, well, set, for which production designer Meenal Agarwaldeserves all the credit. But, there’s also extremely DEFTcamerawork at display. In one particularly haunting shot, and I don’t mean thatliterally, a character has been brutally assaulted. She cannot walkbecause her feet are bleeding, so she’s crying and kinda draggingherself on the floor, to reach her room. The camera is on the floor at eye level, so we’re not looking downand feeling bad about her pain and misery, but instead, we’re living it with her. We’re looking into her eyes. The frame is mostly static,and as soon as she reaches the lens, the camera immediately pulls back, revealinganother couple of feet she has to now crawl, and so it goes on. Like in a nightmare, when you’re running and runningand running and still stuck at the same spot. And that’s what Anvita Dutt’s Bulbbulalso ultimately is talking about. Less about actual horror stories, but more about thehorrific realities which give birth to these stories. Life is a nightmare. Thodi research karne ke liye niklo, tohchudails ke baare mein itna kuch hai online, to read, to study and just be amazed by. Stuff of folklore,fairy tales, cautionary tales, ki andhere ke baad ghar se baaharkyun nahi jaana chahiye etc etc. Toh Bulbbul is a uniquely Indian talein that regard. When you finally see what thechudail in the film is wearing, you’ll notice that she’s been dressed bycostume designer Veera Kapur Ee exactly like this. A dakini, who in some storiesare women who come back to life, under the protection of Kali, after being murdered on their wedding night,to avenge themselves, and other women. This is the folklore. You might spot more symbolism. Bulbbul’s peacock feather hand fan, a doomsday triggering,color changing moon, a forest alive like an actual person, and of course“qaid mein hai bulbbul”. But you’ll also observe,there are various ways in which life is still the same for many women,across the country and the film is saying that to you. Anvita Dutt’s film speaks ofthe need for a sisterhood, and it makes it a point to show you why,via many microaggressions. A man returns after 5 years and immediatelyassumes charge of financial affairs, while asking women to cover their heads,judging them for talking to another bloke. And of course, mera personal favourite, standing up forall the men ever, popularly known as the ‘bro code’. You’re meant to notice these moments, carefully craftedinto this patiently written, non-linear screenplay. Achcha, aur issnon-linearity se kya hota hai? Story mein suspense generate hota hai. Agar theek se karo, toh. When straight up,in the beginning of the film, you’re shown that the inner journeyof the lead character is complete, and the rest of the film is aboutfinding out how, filling in the gaps, trying to figure what could have potentiallylead to the current situation, one gets invested in wanting to find out. Acting coach Atul Mongia works hard andsuccessfully with the leading actor Tripti Dimri. Bulbbul affords her the space to move around,which her debut film Laila Majnu did not. It’s a challenging part and she deliversa confident and a mature performance, especially while playingthe teenaged Bulbbul, and she carries a majority of the filmon her shoulders, without a slip-up. Avinash Tiwary is a proven stellar actor, and here as well, as Satya Thakur,he’s clay in his director’s hands. In him lies the story’s hope,not as a saviour, but as an acknowledger of systemic privilegeand harbinger of systemic change. An incredible Rahul Bose plays Thakur with as muchease and perfection with which he transforms into, well anything, I’ve seen him in. I won’t go into too much detail into his role,kyunki yeh ek neat little surprise hai, joh halaanki film ki starting mein dikh jaayega,par it’s fun to find out. Paoli Dam is just excellent as a productof her circumstances, chhoti Bahu Binodini. There’s a really wonderful scenebetween her and Bulbbul, where she’s dressing her up,like she would a doll, but also just pouring out her grief,and deep-seated hurt, by regurgitating lines which were probablytaught to her as a little girl. The scene starts offas an admonishment, but by the end of it,your heart is aching for this woman who has had to do all kinds of thingsto be able to survive. Bulbbul delivers what it promises. A scary story of a child’s imaginationcome to life in late 19th century India, told via comprehensive filmmaking,aimed towards bringing you entertainment. It is not a tough film to decipher, understand,and its themes are easy to grasp, jo agar miss ho bhi jaayein, toh kaafi simplistic climax mein,sab sundar se aise tie together bhi ho jaayega. Kind of like a ‘Tumbbad Light’, perhaps? But, Clean Slate Films seem to have puttheir entire might behind finding fun, new stories and storytellers, and giving them the resourcesand treatment their ideas deserve. I laud the effort, and I hope Netflix is able togenerate enough good buzz around this film, so that it reaches maximum people. So, on a scale of 1 to 10,Bulbbul is… 1 hour 34 minutes only,which is a huge blessing, because right now,attention span is just…

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