Mumbai, 22 Sep 2017 15:20 IST
Sanjay Dutt is powerful, but his comeback film is laced with cliches and predictable plot points.
There have been several films this year that have explored the aftermath of rape followed by revenge — Kaabil (by husband), Maatr and Mom (by mother) and now Bhoomi, with the father (Sanjay Dutt) taking the law in his own hands.
Unfortunately, Bhoomi is just too predictable to move you. The film follows a stale format in depicting the abduction and rape, the police and court proceedings, and father-daughter taking the law in their hands.
Bhoomi (Aditi Rao Hydari) is about to get married to her boyfriend (Siddhant Gupta) when a youth from the neighbourhood, who is unable to digest rejection, abducts her with the help of his uncle and friends. The director, Omung Kumar, depicts the abduction, gang rape and aftermath in the most clichéd manner. The main villain (Sharad Kelkar) is too stereotypically evil, making him a caricature and, in turn, thwarting the real impact of such a heinous crime.
Mom's most effective scene was the one in which a young girl gets abducted and all you see is the top shot of the car navigating the eeriely empty streets. The viewer can only imagine what is happening in that vehicle.
In Pink, the scenes depicting what happened with the young women before fleeing their attackers is shown at the very end.
Here, the director takes the most predictable route, adding nothing new to Hindi cinema's narrative on rape. He sets up the world of the father and the daughter nicely, playing on a realistic mix of stereotypes in society and modern-day thinking. But once the film moves on to the crime and its aftermath, it loses all of that. While some of the emotional scenes between father and daughter are touching, the predictable plot points take the sheen out of them.
Then there are social comments thrown in, like the unfairness of the law as it treats a juvenile delinquent with leniency, the shaming of a rape survivor in a courtroom, and hundreds of women letting go off their dupatta in the last scene, but everything is done by design.
All the songs interrupt the flow of the film and are used only as devices to relieve some of the intensity, which takes you back to the 1990s formula of 'chaar gane daal do — ek romantic, ek item song, ek shaadi number, ek sad song [add four songs — one romantic, one item number, one wedding number and a sad song].'
The quality of the film is good and the performances are better than in some of the 1990s revenge dramas, but its biggest drawback is that it does not move forward from there.
In one of the scenes, when she is still dealing with the societal impact of having been raped, Bhoomi says she wants to live with her head held high and asks her father also to not feel ashamed. At this point one hopes the story plays out differently, exploring Bhoomi's inner strength. But, sadly, the narrative is too formulaic to offer any new perspective on the effects of rape in today's times.
Hydari is efficient. Dutt as the doting father does well to express the pain of being unable to protect his daughter. There are tons of close-up shots allowing the actor to show his range. Unfortunately, his powerful act is stuck in a predictable story with stale treatment.