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‘Bheed’ movie review: A poignant portrayal of the lockdown plight

‘Bheed’ movie review: A poignant portrayal of the lockdown plight
Remember the heart-wrenching news that shook the world in May 2020? Sixteen migrant laborers in India, desperate to return home during the covid lockdown, met a tragic end as they were crushed by a running train. I vividly recall the gut-wrenching scenes on news channels, displaying their personal belongings scattered along the railway tracks and their lifeless bodies left in the wake of the devastating incident. This haunting episode serves as the powerful opening for ‘Bheed’, a thought-provoking Hindi-language social drama by the acclaimed filmmaker Anubhav Sinha. Anubhav Sinha, known for his socially relevant and compelling movies like ‘Mulk’, ‘Article 15’, and ‘Thappad’, takes on the monumental task of depicting one of the largest migration events in India since the partition of 1947. In Bheed, he delves deep into the harrowing narratives of individuals from diverse backgrounds who were crushed by the Covid-induced lockdown and the subsequent struggle to find their way back home. The film revolves around Police Officer Surya Kumar Singh (played by the versatile Rajkummar Rao), who is entrusted with the responsibility of sealing the Tejpur border, located 1200 kilometers from Delhi. Determined to carry out his orders, Surya must gather whatever limited resources he has to secure the border.

However, the situation quickly spirals out of control as multitudes of migrants from all corners of the country converge at the border, desperate to cross over and reach their hometowns. Among them is Balram Trivedi (Pankaj Kapur), a watchman yearning to return home with his sick brother, and Geetanjali (Dia Mirza), a wealthy Delhiite trying to reunite with her daughter during the lockdown.

These characters serve as powerful representatives of the collective struggles and aspirations of countless others who find themselves trapped in a similar predicament, all longing to cross the Tejpur border. Bheed adopts a somber black-and-white tone, a deliberate artistic choice that eschews sensationalism and instead presents the stark realities faced by these individuals with raw authenticity. Within the overarching narrative of people caught in dire circumstances, the movie delves into nuanced sub-stories, exploring themes of privilege, casteism, and the contrasting priorities of different social strata. The storytelling in Bheed is subtle yet impactful, delivering a realistic portrayal of the collision between castes, classes, and the basic survival instincts that drive humanity. While there may have been room for deeper character development and exploration of their backstories, one must acknowledge the constraints of a feature-length movie. Nonetheless, the undercooked characters, particularly Balram and Surya Kumar, act as the missing links that prevent the movie from reaching its full potential. Performance-wise, the entire cast delivers compelling portrayals that seamlessly blend with the screenplay and the movie’s stylistic choices. Rao and Kapur, in particular, shine in their respective roles, creating a captivating dynamic as their characters clash in their quests. The rest of the ensemble cast also deserves commendation for their unwavering commitment to their roles. The cinematography in Bheed is noteworthy, effectively capturing the characters as both part of a larger collective and as individuals with their unique struggles. Through skillful camerawork, their pain and anguish, etched on their faces, intensify the movie’s emotional impact, leaving an indelible impression on the viewers. Who should watch it? Bheed is not an easy movie to watch. It confronts viewers with the harsh realities of the lockdown and how it irreversibly transformed lives. However, for those willing to embark on an emotional journey and appreciate it as a profound work of cinematic art, Bheed offers a rewarding experience with its intense storytelling and exceptional filmmaking. Rating: 4 stars Genre: Drama Actors: Rajkummar Rao, Dia Mirza, Pankaj Kapur Director: Anubhav Sinha Run time: 2hrs 4mins