Cast: Avinash Tiwary, Tripti Dimri, Rahul Bose, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Paoli DamDirector: Anvita Dutt
The new Netflix film, directed by Anvita Dutt, makes us familiar to the era of ‘zamindars’ in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but there is a definite shift in the traditional outlook of that time period. Though many Hindi filmmakers have explored the era with a lot of reverence, they mostly refrained from delving deeper into the dark corners of those glorious mansions. On that front, Bulbbul has to offer some new angles, but they might leave you wanting for more.
To Dutt’s credit, she has gotten the casting mostly correct. It’s difficult to imagine Bulbbul without Rahul Bose, Parambrata Chattopadhyay and Paoli Dam. Their understanding of conventional Bengali culture works in the film’s favour. They have gotten the nuances right, especially Bose, whose body-language speaks volumes of the double standard his character possesses.
Then there is something about the mild mannered Chattopadhyay. He adds immense value to a story that wants its primary characters to bring in new perspectives at crucial junctures. The way he presents it, you’re forced to take his opinions seriously.
Dutt has successfully created an environment where you could see her tasteful demonstration of that time period. She successfully transports us to the time where a dominant patriarchal system is not willing to let loose the grip over day-to-day proceedings.
She also gives references to music, philosophy and other artifacts of the time, which may interest a viewer with artistic leaning.
Bulbbul’s most interesting moments feature Paoli Dam and Tripti Dimri, who play sisters-in-law. These scenes are written really well and you’ll immediately get the sub-context. There’s a sinister milieu around these conversations, which hint towards some unsaid plots.
There’s another side to it too. These scenes increase your expectations, but the revelations don’t exactly match up to it. On the contrary, the story starts following a very predictable path.
Actually, the film hugely impresses, despite an underutilised Avinash Tiwary, for the first few minutes, but then it slowly eases its grip over the audience which keeps looking for a thicker plot but gets only the most likely outcomes.
Sidharth Diwan’s cinematography tries its best to save the day, but the pink hue and blue glaze can’t operate in isolation. Despite being only 94-minute long, Bulbbul seems stretched and repetitive.
If you’re willing to overlook the most obvious interpretations of the situations shown in the film, Bulbbul will definitely give you chills. And yes, it’s not a jump-scare film, which I think is the best thing about Bulbbul.