Tejas Nair | September 23, 2017
Rating – 4/10
There’s a scene towards the end where a person falls in a stepwell and drowns. The person is unable to bob and bring himself up because the surface of the water is covered with long pieces of cloth. It is just one of the many things that director Omung Kumar gets wrong in his third feature film, Bhoomi, a flawed revenge drama that is a collection of all revenge dramas that we have seen in Bollywood this year so far.
The first five seconds are enough to gauge what the film has in store for us, which uses a tried-and-tested formula to drive the hackneyed story ahead. In his first film post the completion of his incarceration, Sanjay Dutt tries to exonerate himself by playing, rather decently, a protecting father figure. He is Arun, a footwear dealer, who finds his world turned upside down after his daughter Bhoomi (Aditi Rao Hydari) is gang-raped on the eve of her wedding. Unable to share his sadness over his motherless daughter’s plight and fuelled by anger at police apathy and insensitivity, Arun embarks on the path of vengeance and takes the law into his own hands.
It all sounds great on paper, but when Kumar, with writer Raaj Shaandilyaa, project it on screen, it does not look exactly convincing. The narrow generality that “all men are dogs” is introduced right in the beginning. A lustful lover boy enjoys gulping down a leftover piece of food previously tasted by Bhoomi because it gives him the gratification of having touched the same item that once touched the lips of the woman that he failed to court. The expansion of this arc is what the rest of the film is about, which is all right as far as cinema is concerned. What is not right is a lack of characters that are neutral. Every man in the film is either a rapist (or a lustful guy who does not mind opening his fly in front of any woman) or Bhoomi’s relative.
There are more issues in this film than there are good bits. For starters, some of the songs are totally unnecessary and unbelievably timed. A father is crying his heart out because he couldn’t protect his daughter, and in the next scene, Sunny Leone wants me to feel trippy.
Who prepared the demographic data for the makers?
The police, that are inconsiderate at first, suddenly seem to be helping, or even abetting, Arun in his self-righteous deed that is later described as a universal solution (for the issue) by the same character in the epilogue. The villains look intelligent at first but then lose control of their own sanity and do dumb things. They are epitomes of banality that make the whole drama look unnecessary and a waste of time. We all know that courtroom sequences in Bollywood films are a joke, and this one here uses those same films as inspiration. The question about this film’s existence, therefore, has to definitely come up.
This is a serious and violent film which does slip into lame territory a few times, thanks to Shekhar Suman. Although he puts up a good show after being away from the screen for years, the humour is hardly entertaining. I could say the same thing about Sanjay Dutt’s acting. He looks tired and carries the same weary air throughout the film. Aditi Rao Hydari is lovely, but I couldn’t connect with her character in the second half. A deadpan look is not the only facial expression in the dictionary of a person who has seen and been through ghastly things. Sharad Kelkar is the new Ronit Roy, and he does his part very well, compelling us to rejoice at his fate later in the film.
The final 30 minutes are a relief because the techniques used to exact revenge have the potential to keep you engaged. Arun is an ordinary man but his actions are extraordinary, thanks to writer Shaandilyaa for producing these few bits that are at least entertaining if not logical. The camera work is generally humdrum but there is one sequence around halfway where the film succeeds in capturing the misery of a man who is realizing that that moment is the point where his life is going to change forever.
Even though it has all the right ingredients and is supported by a talented cast, there are still issues that mar the film from being a valid entertainer. It tries to raise one too many questions and stumbles over at the first answer itself. There is also no hint about what the director wanted to convey. This again reinforces my statement about Dutt’s exoneration, which would then make this a propaganda film, a case I do not wish to pursue.
If revenge dramas are the only type of films that you watch, then Bhoomi is going to be a treat. Otherwise, let me stop you from exposing yourself to 140 minutes of cliché, traditional writing, and a preachy and droll climax. You won’t miss out on anything because you have already watched Kaabil or Mom or Maatr.
Image Credits: NowRunning.com and Sunny Leone Official Facebook Page
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