Goa, 25 Nov 2018 14:00 IST
Updated: 28 Nov 2018 12:52 IST
Director Kamakhya Narayan Singh's film tackles the themes of open defecation and women empowerment through the lens of Bihar's Musahar community.
Minutes into Bhor and you are transported to a small village in Bihar — the world of Musahars, a scheduled caste.
Their work in the fields, rearing pigs, extracting toddy, wedding customs, huts, eating style — everything is constructed so authetically and with great detail that it makes you feel completely one with the setting.
The production design by Mrinal Das and costumes by Sandhya Yadav lend the realness that connects you with the characters, plot and the setting.
Director Kamakhya Narayan Singh brings in his documentary film an experience to create a fictitious, but real world, as he perfectly blends themes of open defecation, women's education and empowement.
Based on themes similar to Shree Narayan Singh's, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (2017), Bhor feels much less cosmetic and a lot more immersive.
Bhor tells the story of Budhni (Saveree Gaur), an untouchable girl who wants to pursue her education but is married off, despite not being of legal age. Her husband Sugan (Devesh Ranjan) though is a doting husband, who agrees to let her continue school and she tops her district, earning attention from the government. But lack of a toilet in her husband's home becomes a big cause of concern for her.
She refuses to wake up before dawn and accompany the rest of the village women to the fields to defecate. Her goal to have a toilet in her home slowly turns into a national movement.
Kamakhya's screenplay, co-written by Ranjan Chauhan and Bhasker Vishwanath, has the right mix of humour, drama and a social message, not once heading into the preachy zone. The focus is on telling the story of the characters.
The characters and world are easily likaeble because all of them are inherently good-hearted. Even the upper-caste farmers, often depicted as villains, are portrayed as do-gooders who encourage Chamku, Budhni's alcoholic father-in-law to allow her to continue studies.
Despite the obvious lack of a villain, the conflicts Budhni faces just on the account of being born as an untouchable keep you engaged in the narrative.
Kamakhya's major win is casting new actors who blend in with their setting, transforming seemlessly into the characters they are playing.
Nalneesh is hilarious as Budhni's father-in-law, whose only agenda is to get drunk on toddy and perform his duties in the field so he can make ends meet. He is seen wobbling around drunk in most scenes and grabs your attention every time he appears on screen.
Bhor is an authentically fictitious and fictitiously good-hearted piece of work on a relevant issue viewed through the under-represented lens of the Musahar community.
Bhor was screened at the 49th International Film Festival of India on 22 November in Goa.
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