Directed by:- Anvitta Dutt
Produced by:- Clean Slate films- Anushka Sharma and Karnesh Sharma
Music:– Amit Trivedi
Tripti Dimri– Bulbbul
Avinash Tiwary– Satya
Paoli Dam– Binodini
Rahul Bose– Mahendra and Indranil Thakur
Parambrata Chattopadhyay– Dr Sudip
Released on- 24th June 2020
A scarlet moon, eerie folklore, and trenches of age-old social evils entangles this cinematic depiction. It gives a classic feel of the Rabindranath Tagore tales, involves twists like Devdas, and has an appalling touch like that of Bhool Bhulaiya. A package in all!
Bulbbul is the story of a girl whose love is suppressed, rights are exploited, and dignity is impaired. Produced by Anushka Sharma, this story has been written and directed by Anvitta Dutt. The genre is thriller combined with horror. The cast is new, fresh, and backed by old golds. Tripti Dimri and Avinash Tiwary have slain their performances as the leads whereas Rahul Bose has done a terrific job as the villain- perhaps villains, as he features in a dual role.
The plot throws light on social evils like child marriage which was a common tradition in British India, before that, and after that too. The sexual and physical assault has also been inflicted upon the lead of the movie to show how oppressive and torturous the history of Indian women have been. Although child marriage has subsided in maximum parts of the country, sexual harassment and assault remain to cling in the form of monsters.
Also, as a consequence of the torture that Bulbbul has to go through, she unleashes her wrath and appears to be a supernatural/ghostly creature who serves justice to those who do wrong. This brings forth the importance of women empowerment. So, all in all, it is a power-packed package with great music by Amit Trivedi and brilliant performances by timed and fresh faces.
The two and a half hour movie begins by depicting a little girl (Bulbbul) collecting mangoes from a tree and sitting on a tree branch talking about how she likes freedom. On the other hand, preparations for a big Indian Bengali wedding are going on, twin brothers (Thakur brothers known as Mahendra and Indranil) and their younger brother Satya are focused upon as leads. Mahendra is younger than Indranil and is a retard.
Bulbbul is prepared for the wedding and taken to the mandap where she gets married to one of the twin brother, who is much, much older to her but she doesn’t know who she is married to. She is then carried to the big haveli in a carriage in which she wakes up abruptly at night missing her family, she is consoled by Satya, and he tells her a story about a witch who used to live on trees. The girl thinks that she has been married to Satya, but instead, she is married to a man twice her age, maybe more. The younger daughter in law is shown getting jealous of bulbbul.
The story leaps twenty years forward. The atmosphere is eerie with pink clouds and moon. The presence of some supernatural creature is cited as a reason for such surroundings. Satya is shown returning from somewhere and is watched upon by the creature. He reaches the haveli and goes to meet Bulbbul, who is in charge of everything now. The retarded brother is dead, and the other one has left the abode.
Bulbbul looks confident and promising in her badi bahu avatar, they exchange greetings and discuss what happened in the past. Meanwhile, the younger daughter in law comes to meet them in the form of a widow. Satya discovers that something weird has been happening in the village for a long time. A supernatural creature has been taking lives and therefore, wreathing havoc among the masses.
When he comes home to talk to Bulbbul, he sees her with some stranger and starts judging her character. Now, this is another symbolism of how a woman is judged about her character if she is seen with some other man. He asks the choti bahu regarding the whereabouts of the stranger then comes to know that he is the village’s doctor and Bulbbul’s friend.
He starts on his mission to find the creature and kill it so that it doesn’t kill anyone. One of the hunting pack gets killed by the creature, and despite finding tracks of the creature, the doctor doesn’t tell anyone. Then….comes the flashback.
The story gradually moves, showing how Satya and Bulbbul being of the same age group mingle with each other and become best of friends and start writing a book. Bulbbul gets attracted to Satya and spends most of her time with him. Indranil isn’t very fond of the bond and is instigated by the younger daughter in law to look into the matter.
Meanwhile, Mahendra is shown to have kept the wrong intentions for Bulbbul from day one, but nobody acknowledges this fact. Indranil sends Satya to London for law studies and his affair with the younger daughter in law is revealed, she tries taking Bulbbul’s place but is shushed by Indranil.
He finds Bulbbul grieving in Satya’s absence. He finds the pages of the book which was written by both of them in the fire. He concludes that she loved him because both their names were written on the paper. He then physically tortures her and cuts her feet separate from her legs.
She is medicated and put to rest. Afterward, the retard brother comes home and sexually assaults her until she loses consciousness. Some defining moments like blowing wind and goddess’ Kali’s temple all lit are shown, thereafter she wakes up with a loud scream, portraying that the powers of the shakti have entered her.
She transforms from there and pledges to kill anyone who wrongs others. She also kills the retard brother. Her feet deform and turn backward. She is a changed woman now and is least affected by any kind of emotion other than rage.
After seeing so many people being killed by the creature, Satya finds it his duty to kill the creature but is challenged by the doctor who helps Bulbbul through her times of agony and protects her from the world. She kills one more man who tries to assault a young kid. She comes to the forest, where her true identity is finally revealed to the audience. Dr. Sudip and Satya fight each other then Satya sets the forest on fire, but when he is told by the doctor that Badi bahu is one who is the creature, he cries in pain. She dies and actually becomes a witch and kills her husband for his wrong deeds.
There are moments in the movie that reveal beforehand that Bulbbul is the creature, but the story builds on its own pace. The background music has done wonders and the convincing performances by all the actors, especially Tripti Dimri, is a treat to watch. The chemistry between Avinash and Tripti is appealing, as was seen in the movie Imtiaz Ali.
The movie focuses on many aspects of gender abuse, how women are oppressed, suppressed, assaulted, judged, and not given enough rights to decide what they want. Movies like Stree, Bhool Bhulaiya and Bulbbul show that when women are tortured for who they are, their wrath unleashes in ways no man can ever imagine. Feminism is this, fighting for what you didn’t get and fighting against what’s wrong. This fable is an ode to women empowerment. Clad in Rabindranath Tagore’s class and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s royalty, this is definitely a treat to watch.
We actually need more movies like Bulbbul that not only bring old stories as new, bring up fresh stories and faces, but classic cinema with actual stories with a modern touch.