Bulbbul: Invigorating Smash To Patriarchal Lineage

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By: Abhishek Kabra

Released on 24th of June, ‘Bulbbul’ presents an experience of Bulbbul rising from the ashes and the gradual revealing of the fairy tale that the story unfurls. The cinematography and the usage of metaphorical images and expression brings out the fact that the movie laments the societal patriarchy that gets passed on to generations. The element of suspense thriller which is native to most of the horror films was missing but the central theme and the artwork in the movie surpasses the same. Thus, rather than calling it a horror film, it can be addressed as the portrayal of horrific realities of the society.

Set in Bengal, around early 20th century, Bulbbul (Tripti Dimri) is married to Indranil Thakur (Rahul Bose), who was evidently 30 years older than him, as a child bride. However, she finds more closeness in Thakur’s younger brother ‘Satya’ (Avinash Tiwary) who was of her age. The movie then goes on revealing the horrific pain that Bulbbul experiences because of the atrocities of her husband as well as sexual assaults by Mahinder, Indranil’s twin brother. Thus, the story narrates tale of a child bride that grows up to be an enigmatic woman presiding over her household, harbouring a painful past as supernatural murders of men plague her village.

Since inception, the movie showed symbolism of a tragedy earmarked by patriarchy but it always had symbols of fighting back. Let it be the toe ring (bichhua), the portrayal of Kali or even the moon turning pink after Mahinder sexually assaults Bulbbul followed by her sardonic smile throughout the film, which was enough to unsettle anyone, Bulbbul is replete with these images, holding up a mirror to child marriage, domestic violence, paedophilia, and rape. Though the plot doesn’t market to horror movie aficionados, it forces the audience to confront the patriarchal reality we live in. It is a story of heartbreak and tragedy.

Apart from the cinematography, the acting too is praiseworthy. Tripti Dimri displays a beautiful, fragile presence and doesn’t lose it even when Bulbbul finds her strength. And Paoli Dam is excellent as Binodini.

Bulbbul and Binodini are clear evidences of the goal that Anvika Dutt tries to reflect in two contrasting characters – the growth of an innocent and disoriented child bride to the Thakurain with an enigmatic flair and lately the symbolism of Kali in the former, and on the latter side, the acceptance of the same male dominance by Binodini, Mahinder’s wife whose cunning ways hide deep-rooted frustration. However, the movie missed an opportunity to portray the character of Binodini, in a more interesting way.

The movie ends up with another symbol i.e. the Kohuwa Bon or the Kashphool, that generally grows at place which is untrodden but is however the symbol of the arrival of festive season. The Thakur’s haveli was full of those Kashphool trying to give a thrilling message or abandonment but with a new hope.

I shall rate four out of five for Bulbbul and recommend you to watch the same.

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