CAST: Rajkummar Rao, Bhumi Pednekar, Pankaj Kapoor, Ashutosh Rana, Diya Mirza, Kriti Kamra
DIRECTOR: Anubhav Sinha
Bheed, translates into a crowd. However the literal transliteration does not hold good for Anubhav Sinha’s work that evokes myraid emotions of its audiences.
The sheer crowd, the unbelievable apathy wrapped in humanity that only thrives for survival is a stark, honest story of the dynamics of staying alive for millions of people. Faced with an unknown pandemic, the impact of which they just did not understand, people scrambled for their survival.
As the Indian government shut down life as it existed, millions of migrant workers, who depend on their livelihood for jobs in big cities, had nowhere to go overnight as the uncertain lock down left them without livelihood or any means thereof.
As this wave of humanity make their way back to their homes, shutdown of transportation services exposed them to bigger dangers of not only exposure to the virus but hunger and death.
Anubhav Sinha knows the focus of his narrative well as he weaves black and white stark frames of humanity that any international audience will look at with awe and inspiration.
Drawing parallels with the largest migration in the history of humanity ( the India -Pak partition), the ocean of people have homes to go to that no roads lead to.
As they struggle for survival, the borders drawn within India are not only physical but socio-cultural as well. Deeply embedded in the story are the levels of access people are afforded based on their caste and social mileage. A high ranking cop’s family gets beds on the floor of the hospital while food is refused on the basis of the religion of the donors.
Even in those circumstances, when life is hanging by the thread, humanity could not overcome the divisions it has set for itself.
Bheed is the story of people, their personal aspirations, their fight for survival and the divisions that keep society stitched as a unit.
The writers (Sinha, Saumya Tiwari, and Sonali Jain) tie up the diverse snapshots of people caught in the unprecedented situation fairly well. The screenplay is the strength of the movie. As people propel themselves to survive, the words become their weapons of subsistence.
After his very honest appraisal of the caste system in his movie “Article 15”, Sinha brings the angle up again in this movie. If Article 15 was from the gaze of a high-caste police officer finding his feet in a difficult situation; the companion piece is from the point of view of a lower-rung officer, caught between his social identity and an unprecedented state of affairs.
COVID presented to the humanity new social orders and with two brilliant actors Pankaj Kapur and Rajkummar Rao as protagonists Surya and Balram in their desperation to assert each others social superiority in a desperate situation makes Bheed an engaging and important watch.
Surya is in love with an upper caste girl, Renu Sharma (Bhumi Pednekar), and cannot shake off his caste identity. That he carries two stars on the shoulders of his uniform doesn’t empower him enough to open up a closed mall fso the migrants could eat from the food stored there or stand up to Balram when he threatens to take the law into his hands. He may be a part of the system, but for Surya, justice is still in the hands of the socially powerful.
The Tablighi-Jamaat episode plays out only in passing but Sinha intelligently steers clear of the temptation of making religion the driving force for the story. In fact, Surya tells Vidhi (Kritika Kamra), a well-meaning journalist struggling to make sense of the situation, that she should come out of her Hindu-Muslim obsession to understand the world better.
Rajkummar Rao performs another brilliant screen essay of the emotional commotion inside Surya. Kapur ensures that Balram doesn’t become a caricature and Rana brings out the pressures that the officer of an in-between caste finding himself in an unprecedented social situation.
Overall, this one is for the chapters in history. Watch it.