Panjim, 25 Nov 2018 14:00 IST
Updated: 20 May 2019 21:21 IST
Director Kamakhya Narayan Singh's film tackles the themes of open defecation and women's 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 the Musahars, a scheduled caste. Their work in the fields, rearing pigs, extracting toddy, their wedding customs, huts, eating style — everything is constructed so authentically and with such great detail that it makes you feel 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 setting.
Director Kamakhya Narayan Singh brings into his film a documentary-like experience to create a fictitious but real world, as he perfectly blends the themes of open defecation and women's education and empowement. These themes are similar to the ones in Shree Narayan Singh's Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (2017), but 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 groom Sugan (Devesh Ranjan), though, is a doting husband, who agrees to let her continue school and she tops in their district, earning attention from the government. But the lack of a toilet in her husband's home becomes a big cause of concern for her.
Budhni 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 Narayan Singh'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 their world are easily likeable because all of them are inherently good-hearted. Even the upper-caste farmers, often depicted as villains in the movies, are portrayed here as do-gooders who encourage Chamku, Budhni's alcoholic father-in-law, to allow her to continue her studies.
Despite the lack of an obvious villain, the conflicts Budhni faces just on account of being born into a desperately poor and backward scheduled caste keeps you engaged in the narrative.
Kamakhya's major win is casting new artistes who blend in with their setting, transforming themselves seamlessly 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 in Goa on 22 November. Bhor was also screened at the 14th Habitat Film Festival at New Delhi's India Habitat Centre on 19 May 2019.
Related topicsIFFI Habitat Film Festival
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