Directed by: Anvita Dutt
Starring: Tripti Dimri, Avinash Tiwary, Paoli Dam, Rahul Bose, Parambrata Chattopadhyay
Genre: Horror, Drama, Crime, Thriller, Mystery
Release Date: 24 June 2020
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Original Network: Netflix
A man returns home after years to find his brother’s child bride now grown up and abandoned, and his ancestral village plagued by mysterious deaths.
Bulbbul is a 2020 Indian Hindi-language supernatural drama written and directed by Anvita Dutt. Produced by Anushka Sharma and Karnesh Sharma, the film stars Tripti Dimri, Avinash Tiwary, Paoli Dam, Rahul Bose and Parambrata Chattopadhyay. It tells the story of a man who returns home after years to find his brother’s child bride now grown up in his ancestral village. Bulbbul was released on Netflix on 24 June 2020.
Bulbbul Movie Plot:
Pretty but problematic, Anushka Sharma’s Netflix film is a flawed fairytale
Set in Bengal Presidency during 1881, the film shows a 5-year old Bulbbul getting married to few decades older Indranil who has a younger twin, Mahendra (who is mentally challenged and married to Binodini), and the youngest Satya (who is closer to her age and whom she assumes is her husband). 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 of the ancestral mansion. Satya visits the widowed Binodini, who tells him some chudail killed her husband because she found reversed foot prints leading away from his body. More stories of men being killed in the village by a witch begin to capture the interest of Satya, enamored by the confident and self-assured Bulbbul who is shown to be an emotional wreck and docile when Satya was leaving for London.
Bulbbul Web Series पर भड़की Payal Rohatgi
Bulbbul Netflix Movie REVIEW | Naman Sharma
In flashback throughout the movie, Bulbbul and Satya are always close being of the same age group. Mahendra is showing to be getting uncomfortably close to Bulbbul on many occasions and Indranil has to intervene. Sensing the bond between Bulbbul and Satya, and fueled by Binodini, Indranil feels jealous and sends his brother away for education abroad. Bulbbul burns a diary which documents her co-writing a story with Satya, but Indranil finds a few corners which escaped the fire and misinterprets its content, loses his temper and beats her feet to a pulp. The doctor is called and told that she fell from the stairs and he skeptically informs Indranil that it may take a year for Bulbbul to even heal from her wounds in her feet. Indranil then leaves and says he will keep sending money to the family; there is nothing left for him there. Bulbbul is still recovering from the pain and shock when Mahendra enters and rapes her, which leads to her death. But through divine intervention, she jolts back to life. Binodini comes and cleans away the evidence of her husbands rape, while recounting all that she was told when she was married off to Mahendra (“he may be mentally challenged, but you shall get the riches and luxuries”). The doctor enters and while putting her feet back into the slings notices fresh wounds on the inner parts of thigh. He tries to ask her about it, but Bulbbul asks him to do his job and leave.
At present she is informed on the anniversary of Mahendra’s death, that Satya’s coach driver killed his first wife. While this is happening, Satya has gone to arrest the doctor whom he suspects to be behind the murders. Satya tells the doctor he will believe he is innocent if he sees the chudail himself. While on the way to the city, the driver is killed and Satya sees the chudail for the first time through the mist. He fires shots at her and vanishes into the fog. The doctor tries to go after him but finds Bulbbul on a tree in her full in her raw, avenging avataar, and realises it has been her who had slain the vile men of the village. He also realises that her feet injuries had resulted in them being twisted backwards, a characteristic usually attributed to chudail. She has been shot and he wants to help her but Satya stops him and sets fire to the nearby trees in order to burn her down with the forest. The doctor tries tells him how she is not an evil spirit but in fact, a Goddess. He tries to tell Satya that it is his sister-in-law, but in anger Satya does not listen. He finally realizes who she is when the doctor worriedly calls out for Badi Bahu – the title of Bulbbul in the manor, when he is looking for her in the flames. He then realizes what has happened and breaks down. Bulbbul is shown closing her eyes to recount her life in flashes in her final moments.
One year later, Indranil returns to the abandoned haveli. Satya has left, stating that he once wished to be like his elder brother, and was then scared to be. But not any longer, as all three brothers have finally the same blood on their hands. While in the haveli, Indranil hears Bulbbul calling him in her signature tone. Her form appears to be rising from ashes, and gives a sinister smile, implying she finally takes her revenge on him.
Bulbbul Movie Trailer:
Bulbbul Movie Review:
Over-directed but underwritten, Bulbbul is a visually striking film that is let down by a weak script.
From debutante director Anvita Dutt (whose track record as dialogue writer includes the runaway hit Queen but also Shaandaar, Kambakkht Ishq and Housefull), Netflix’s Bulbbul is the second streaming film this month, after Amazon’s Gulabo Sitabo, that is set inside a foreboding mansion. But while the dignified ‘haveli’ in Shoojit Sircar’s movie took on a life of its own, the one in Bulbbul, like the film itself, can’t help but feel artificial.
As an industry, Bollywood has been famously incapable of producing good horror cinema, with the odd exceptions, of course. Invariably, horror in India is combined with other genres such as musical or romance — ghosts, you see, mustn’t get in the way of the films’ box office potential. So for Bulbbul to whole-heartedly embrace its Gothic horror origins — it’s Kamal Amrohi’s Mahal by way of Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak — is rather refreshing.
In 1881, Bulbbul, a precocious girl with an appetite for scary stories is married into a wealthy ‘zamindar’ family. In a deft move it is revealed that her husband isn’t the boy Satya, with whom she’s struck a quick friendship, but rather Satya’s sinister-looking elder brother Indranil, the Thakur, played by Rahul Bose. The Thakur has a twin, Mahendra, who is developmentally challenged and is married to a conniving woman named Binodini. Fate has forever sentenced her to play second fiddle to Bulbbul in the household, something that Binodini, the ‘chhoti bahu’, is very bothered by.
The characters established, the films jumps 20 years into the future. Satya, on his way back to the ‘haveli’ after having studied law in London, is informed that a series of mysterious deaths have taken place in the time that he has been away. The villagers seem to believe that it is the doing of a witch that haunts the surrounding forest. Satya, in proper Jonathan Harker mode, dismisses the claims as old wives’ tales.
But a lot has changed in the years that Satya has been gone. His brother Mahendra has been killed in his sleep, and his other brother, the Thakur, has disappeared. Bulbbul, meanwhile, is no longer the spirited young girl that she used to be; she has now fully embraced her life as the ‘Thakurain’ of the house, lounging on settees all day, being fed paan and sherbet, exuding a playful yet unsettlingly self-assured energy.
It doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together, but Bulbbul certainly treats its audience as if it is the first film they’ve seen in their lives.
Because the characters are so thinly written and the surprises so carelessly telegraphed, Dutt’s film is forced to rely more heavily on technical details. For instance, it would have been wonderful to explore the character of Binodini with more patience. She’s an interesting foil to Bulbbul; entrapped instead of empowered, scheming instead of self-reliant.
Swathed perpetually by the red glow of a blood moon, the nighttime sequences in Bulbbul are undeniably gorgeous, besides a couple of noticeable instances where cinematographer Siddharth Diwan’s camera basically breaks character, and surrenders its otherwise stately presence in favour of flashy handheld mayhem. It simply doesn’t gel. You’ll notice it, too.
Bulbbul also features a lush, orchestral score by the great Amit Trivedi, evoking memories of his terrific (but of iffy integrity) work in Vikramaditya Motwane’s Lootera. In a way, there is a strain of melancholy that runs through both movies, and Trivedi is able to capture it.
But employing a needlessly non-linear narrative turns out to be an exercise in futility, because virtually every twist can be seen coming from a mile away. And because so much of the film feels so deliberately planned, Dutt routinely finds herself drowning in style over substance, her script devoid of spontaneity.
A couple of scenes in particular, both involving violence against women, are questionably staged. Instead of evoking anger, or even repulsion, by shooting the first scene in stylized slow-motion that would made Zack Snyder twitch in ecstasy, Dutt essentially distracts the audience’s attention from the horror that is unfolding and turns it instead towards the immaculate beauty of her frames. The second scene, involving a rape, goes on for way longer than it has any reason to. What this does is play into the (problematic) trope that in order to blossom, a woman must first be (violently) broken. There’s a reason why the rape-revenge subgenre of horror is considered outdated.