‘Bulbbul’ Movie Review: Anushka Sharma’s scary fairy tale misses the promised horror genre by miles
Anushka Sharma, Karnesh Sharma
Avinash Tiwary, Tripti Dimri, Paoli Dam, Rahul Bose, Parambrata Chattopadhyay
Bollywood Bubble Rating
What’s It About
Set in 1881, Bulbbul is about a precocious little girl who has an appetite for scary stories. While she thinks she’s getting hitched to a boy with whom she has struck a bond, she finds herself gotten married to his elder brother. There is familial discord between the elder brother and his twin, whose wife hates the little girl. At the same time, the young boy is sent abroad to study.
Once the characters are set the story moves forwards 20 years. The young boy is now returning from abroad and finds out that a lot has changed in toe ‘zamindar’ household. His two elder Brothers (the twins) are no more there. While one has passed away, the other has seemingly vanished from the face of the earth. Now, the little girl has grown up as well and become the whole and sole of the huge ‘haveli’.
The young lad finds out that there is there are claims of a witch haunting the surrounding forests of the ‘haveli’. But is it actually a witch who brought the deaths upon the family? Or was it something else? Will he be able to solve the mystery of the deaths and missing people in the house? Will he also end up falling in love with the little girl, who too has now grown up to be a find woman, whose husband is absconding since ages?
Well, for all those answers, you’ll have to watch the movie.
To begin with, the after-effects of the movie are quite astonishing. The VFX work at times makes you wonder whether it’s from one of those gory Ramsay brothers films, but soon, you get to realise that the milieu is of the 1800s and that surely makes up for the staged after-effects which now seem real and very authentic.
The haunting music and background score by Amit Trivedi is something that deserves a special mention. The score is quite similar to what he had so beautifully created in Vikramaditya Motwane’s ‘Lootera’, and that familial connection between that film and this one is sure to come to your mind when you hear to this OST. Overall, a brilliant job is done.
Lastly, the performances. Rahul Bose is an absolute delight to watch after such a long time. The way he gets into the skin of the twins and the varied mental state in which both of them are set is applause-worthy. However, with the show panning more on the younger character, at times, you are left wanting to see more of the genius Bose. But still, as they say, great things come in small packages.
Tripti Dimri and Avinash Tiwary make for a brilliant twosome in the film. Their chemistry is good, however, it’s definitely not as great as it was in ‘Laila Majnu’. But, their performances lift the film and make it worth the time spend.
A big shout out to the cinematographer Siddharth Diwan for bringing out the look and feel to such perfection. The blood moon and the milieu surrounding that is truly majestic.
Lastly, I would like to talk about the dynamic duo of Anushka Sharma and Karnesh Sharma as the producers. They figured it out quite early that the horror-thriller genre wasn’t that well made in India, and therefore they decided to pursue this genre even after not getting enough success out of it. Scripts like ‘NH10’, ‘Phillauri’, ‘Pari’ and even to an extent ‘Paatal Lok’ come from the same germ of an idea. The brother-sister Jodi needs to be commended for their constant perseverance in this genre.
Being a big fan of Bengali stars like Parambrata Chattopadhyay and Paoli Dam, I wonder why they were not given their due screentime, as you will constantly want to see more of them, but alas! They’re gone before you can blink.
The major fallacy of this film is in its screenplay. While you want to invest more in the characters and get to know them and how their crooked minds function, but you will not be able to do that. The characters are, as we call, very flimsy, and you don’t totally start living in with them in the same ‘haveli’ while your viewing time.
To add to it, the director Anvita Dutt’s vision of a non-linear structure for the screenplay is totally futile. After all, with that much of back-and-forth happening, you are pretty much aware of the next twist which is going to come, before it actually happens. The twists are therefore feeling like a mere necessity for the story to move forward.
The dialect, at times, is not exactly what you would be expecting, and being a Bengali myself, I would have wanted a tad bit more of authenticity in the way a ‘Rajbari’ is referred to as a ‘Haveli’ and the ‘Baul’ songs are called as ‘Bawl’ in a semi-British accent. Not cool!
Despite the little shortcomings here and there, Anvita Dutt’s ‘Bulbbul’ is a good ONE-TIME WATCH. While in the times of lockdown, we are striving to view newer content every day, this surely can give you chills running down the spine, if you’re home Alone and not an avid horror-genre viewer. For the rest, you can just watch it for time pass, as you would guess the twists and the screams coming in from miles away. I am going with 2 stars.