Anubhav Sinha’s 'Bheed' fails to show true tragedy of pandemic
  • Release Date: -24/03/2023
  • Cast: – Rajkummar Rao, Ashutosh Rana, Bhumi Pednekar, Dia Mirza, Pankaj Kapur
  • Director: – Anubhav Sinha

Bheed deals with one of the most traumatic times that this nation and its people have ever endured; The 2020 Covid-19 nationwide lockdown. The film starts off by showing us an incident that left the entire nation horrified. A group of daily wage earners walking their way back to their respective villages were run over by a train after they got tired and fell asleep on railway tracks.

This incident shook the nation to its core and forced the government to think about how successful they were in ensuring the safety and security of people who they had asked to stay indoors for an unspecified amount of time.

It was also an incident that will remain forever etched in the memories of every citizen and will remind us of atleast one instance when we all failed collectively as a nation to save precious lives.

What if these people were taken care of by their well-to-do neighbours? What if the government had arranged food and medical supplies for the places that they belonged to in their adopted city? What if the government could arrange for proper transportation when these people couldn’t be sustained in their current abodes? A lot of different things could have happened but they didn’t and what finally transpired led to the tragic loss of precious lives.

The magnitude of this tragedy and its impact alone can make up a large portion of a film but in Anubhav Sinha’s treatise of the tragic predicament that was the Covid-19 lockdown, it is all but a fleeting moment. The moment does work as a shocking and disarming lead into his film but is forgotten and never re-approached ever again.

The story of Bheed quickly takes us back to the initial days of the lockdown as we see a gamut of different individuals trying to make their way out of an unnamed city towards their respective destinations.

We don’t need to be told that the city in question is modelled on Delhi and the people trying to move out are mostly trying to make their way into Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. We are then introduced to Police inspector, Surya Kumar Singh Tikas (Rajkummar Rao).

The first time we see him, he is shown horrified by the violence unleashed on the lower caste community folks by the upper caste communities in a place where he is tasked to uphold law and order. This is happening at a time when the entire country is under lockdown and people in rural India are finding it hard to garner enough food and water to meet the needs of their respective families.

That, however, doesn’t stop him from being in love with Renu Sharma (Bhumi Pednekar).

Surya is haunted by memories of a traumatic childhood and also a life that he was still living under the thumb of the higher caste people. He is soon promoted to control and maintain a temporary blockade point on the border of the fictional town of Tejpur.

This brings him into contact with an eclectic mix of people who are all trying to get through the blockade to get to different destinations. This single day not only changes Surya as a human being but also forces him to see beyond his own caste and its treatment by others. He witnesses the sorry state of others irrespective of caste, creed and religion and this makes him a lot more authoritative to do what is right.

My problem with the film was in the fact that it tried to show us too many different things about the lockdown and the problems arising out of it and its failure to address any of these predicaments with complete importance, belief, conviction and heart. This results in the film often turning into a dull and uninspiring affair. While in its defence it can be said that the film was primarily about how these characters reached a particular point and how their different stakes were triggered and ultimately reached a crescendo by the end of the film. For this, I want to point out that not many of the characters make any significant progress throughout the film.

The covid lockdowns and their impact were a lot more shocking and widespread than what can be captured by keeping the storytelling anchored at one point and building a narrative around the different characters stuck at that particular point and time. There are a few characters in this film who capture our imagination and make us feel their respective pain and sufferings but then there are also many that feel superfluous, annoying and filmy and bring down the overall impact of the narrative considerably.

Rajkummar Rao’s character is one of those characters in the film that needs to be blamed for the deficiency in engagement with the narrative.

Another noticeable character in the film is of a private security guard named Balram Trivedi (Pankaj Kapur) who is leading a large group of people out of the city and is only 2 hours away from his destination. Tragically, he is forced to witness the kids in his group wailing due to hunger as he is neither able to arrange food for them nor get out of the blockade. He is forced to snatch weapons from the police and try to loot a nearby mall for food. This entire portion feels overtly dramatic and flimsy. How this portion culminates feels so cliché and Bollywood-ish that it drains the entire portion of all its seriousness leading to the waste of one of the best performances in the entire film by Pankaj Kapur.

Diya Mirza plays a divorced mother who is trying to reach her daughter before her husband reaches her and claims her custody. She is able to bring out the frustration and tortured state of mind of a mother even though she is shown sitting in the comforts of a luxury SUV and passing fleeting comments on the tragic state of affairs.

Kritika Kamra as a news reporter along with two other characters that I didn’t care to remember was the most annoying in the film.

Bheed felt like an amalgamation of a large number of unrelated incidents from different portions of the pandemic that were forcefully juxtaposed in the same place at the same time to result in a coherent narrative. Sadly, it doesn’t feel coherent, engaging or heartbreaking. The story doesn’t flow organically from one portion to another. There isn’t enough shock value to make the people stand up and take notice. The narrative is neither engaging enough nor has any entertainment quotient.

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The performances are good but the writing is so poor that the audiences are unable to connect with any of the characters genuinely. The unnecessary use of Black and White colour palate throughout the film further makes it dull and uninspiring.

Rating: 2.5/5 (2.5 out of 5 Stars)

The views expressed in this article are that of the reviewer and do not reflect EastMojo’s position.

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