A political film becomes a captivating cinema when it manages to be an absorbing story in the first place rather than being a documentation. In his 2.0 journey as a filmmaker, Anubhav Sinha has been unabashedly political, and I think, barring Anek, in every other film, the story had creative dominance over politics. What was great about Bheed was the prominence of a good story that talks about the caste-based political reality of our country.
The movie talks about the mass migration that happened in our country when the government declared lockdown without a second thought. The migrant workers who had no shelter in the big metro cities were forced to return to their villages, and the states closed their borders to stop this migration. The movie Bheed is set in one such state border where everyone is waiting for clearance from the authorities to enter that state.
The posters of the movie Bheed have this line “From the director of Mulk and Article 15”. The decision to choose those two films looks pretty clever, as the script feels like a creative blend of those two films. While Mulk was about the islamophobic narrative in the public domain, Article 15 talked about the deep-rooted casteist mentality in the society. Even though Bheed might look like a critique of the government’s handling of the pandemic, there is a more prominent political layer of caste and hate politics in the content.
Creating a government-bashing movie with a zillion news reports is a very convenient way of making a political film. But Anubhav Sinha ensures that his effort never looks like a bland pile of documentation of events in the initial days of the pandemic. He uses the scenario where every segment of society was on the streets to reach from one point to another as a setting to present his political story. Even in a casual love-making scene, Sinha ensures that something about the impact of being inferior is communicated to the viewer. Even when Sinha’s lower caste central character is “in charge,” he realizes that being in charge doesn’t really change anything for him as the patronizing gaze is still there.
As Surya Kumar Singh Tikas, Rajkummar Rao gets to play a character that demands his total commitment. From the excitement of being appointed as the in charge of the temporary check post to realizing that the system never wants someone like him in positions of power, the journey of Surya Kumar Singh Tikas is eventful, and Rao performs it with absolute conviction. As Balram Trivedi, Pankaj Kapur represents the migration victims who were not willing to look beyond the caste in those testing hours. Bhumi Pednekar’s girlfriend character is more of an emotional support to Rao’s Tikas. But the uncertainty of that relationship’s future has a connection with the film’s politics. Ashutosh Rana and Aditya Shrivastav were memorable as senior police officers.
Anubhav Sinha tries to include multiple perspectives in the story through various characters. Kritika Kamra as the journalist Vidhi, along with her associates, is used as a tool for the director to express his hope on how to fix this. The character played by Diya Mirza is an example of a majority who is totally ignorant about the existence of a mass population whose future is highly uncertain.
To do justice to the theme, Sinha and the cinematographer Soumik Mukherjee have opted for this monochromatic visual treatment, which definitely works for the film. Designed as a cinematic documentation of all the miseries faced by the migrants during the initial days of lockdown, Bheed achieves more than that by using the various characters it created in its short run time. Even though I wasn’t entirely convinced by its slightly escapist and convenient climax, Bheed is an excellent example of how to mix politics into a well-crafted story.
What was great about Bheed was the prominence of a good story that talks about the caste-based political reality of our country.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended