Bulbbul is a feature film made by Clean Slate Films, a production house helmed by Anushka Sharma and her brother Karnesh Sharma. It is the directorial debut of lyricist-writer Anvita Dutt. The movie features; Tripti Dimri as Bulbbul, Avinash Tiwary as Satya, Paoli Dam as Binodini, Rahul Bose as Mahendra / Indranil and Parambrata Chattopadhyay as Dr Sudip.
Set during the British Raj of Bengal in the late 1800s, the film shows a 5-year old Bulbbul getting married to a few decades older Indranil who has a younger twin, Mahendra who is mentally challenged, and the youngest Satya, who is closer to her age and whom she assumes is her husband. During their childhood, Satya narrates to Bulbbul, the story of a witch in the forest who comes out during the blood moon to kill. Twenty years later, we see Satya returning from London after studying law, Mahendra has died under mysterious circumstances and it has been five years since Indranil left home permanently. The young child bride, Bulbbul, is the Thakurain (Landlady) of the ancestral mansion. The rest of the narrative journeys through a series of current and past moments from the lives of Bulbul and Satya, a series of killings in the town and its investigation by Satya and the townsmen, could it be the witch from their childhood stories?
The movie is aptly coloured and blood-soaked in emotion and great performances Tripti Dimri as Bulbbul is brilliant, she carries this story with grace as its central character. She looks beautiful as the Thakurain draped in silks and jewelled in luxury while delivering a career-defining performance. She is expressive even in scenes with no dialogues and just expression. Paoli Dam is good as Binodini. Avinash Tiwari is natural and fits well into his character. Rahul Bose is great in his dual role. Parambrata Chattopadhyay is a revelation and we hope to see more of him in Hindi cinema.
Anvita Dutt has written and directed a gem, it is thought-provoking and intriguing. Bulbul is skillfully framed and shot by the talented Siddharth Diwan and edited by Rameshwar S. Bhagat. Each frame is a visual treat, the cinematography, the colours, the costumes and sets are mesmerising to the viewer. It is an alluring mix of Bengali living and culture. It feels like a Raja Ravi Verma painting coming to life in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas and Rituparno Ghosh’s Chokher Bali. The background score by Amit Trivedi is spectacular and adds soul to the narrative.
Anushka Sharma has successfully through her production house Clean Slate Films, created a sub-genre of Hindi cinema that tells female supernatural stories like Philauri and Pari and now Bulbbul to the audiences. Bulbbul is a powerfully feminist, revisionist tale of women wronged and its consequences for the men who wrong them. It makes you think about what is the true horror of society? A witch who swings from trees with misshapen feet or the unimaginable torture that so many women and girls go through at the hands of men? Don’t miss this thought-provoking fable of realities faced by women in society at the hands of their oppressors.