‘Bulbbul’: A supernatural horror with a feminist angle

2020-07-01 | Since 1 Month

“Bulbbul” is now streaming on Netflix to global audiences. (Supplied)With Bollywood now releasing films via exclusive streaming platforms, actress Anushka Sharma’s production house, Clean Slate Films, debuted “Bulbbul” on Netflix last week. After “Phillauri” (2017) and “Pari” (2018), it would seem that Sharma gravitates toward a particular type of story — one with strong, female protagonists in a supernatural world.
“Bulbbul” is set in 1881, in the erstwhile Bengal Presidency. In recent times, when mainstream Bollywood has become notorious for churning out rehashed and remixed content, a period film is refreshing to see. A fairytale gone awry, a large manor with secrets, and unjust landlords set the scene for the 90-minute supernatural horror film.
Bulbbul, a young girl, is robbed of her childhood when she is married to a middle-aged aristocrat, Indranil Thakur (Rahul Bose). At the same time, Bulbbul and her brother-in-law Satya, only a few years older than she is, befriend each other. To amuse a frightened and confused child bride, Satya tells her a folk story about a demon woman with inverted feet, who prowls the earth, thirsty for human blood. Thus, Bulbbul and Satya forge a friendship on the basis of fairytales.

Twenty years later, a grown-up Satya (Avinah Tiwary) returns from his studies in London to find that nothing has remained the same from his childhood. Bulbbul (Tripti Dimri) is the authoritative lady of the manor, Indranil has disappeared, and the menfolk of the village are being murdered. The locals say it is the doing of the demon woman who avenges victims of injustice. Through a series of flashbacks, the circumstances surrounding the manor and the village are slowly revealed.

With beautiful cinematography and a haunting musical score, the film promises much, but with a weak — almost predictable — script, it fails to deliver.

Dimri as Bulbbul is enthralling, transforming from naïve and dutiful to melancholy and, occasionally, arrogant. The formulaic horror film does not scare, but the quiet scenes of violence and gore will haunt audiences long after the film ends.

“Bulbbul” is now streaming on Netflix to global audiences.

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