On her wedding night, Bulbbul is being explained the significance of the toe ring. It presses that vein which ties down the bride so that she doesn’t “fly away”. The toe ring is one of the many things used to control her.
But Bulbbul does not understand the meaning of “vash” (control). As a child, she does not even understand what is happening to her – that she is getting married off to the old Thakur. This is the norm of 1881 Bengal Presidency.
Just with a few characters, the writer and director Anvita Dutt builds a tantalising drama. Bulbbul is one of the few rare films that effectively discovers the horror of human emotions and fleshes out the trauma of their inhumane actions. If Bulbbul is such an unsettling horror story, it’s ’cause it’s a such a compelling family drama!
Anvita Dutt adeptly visualize this subtext with the stylised, vivid camerawork complimenting the setting of the blood-red forests, the opulent saris, and the oddly but suitably melodic background score ( Amit Trivedi is the best obv ). The violent scenes are so well-done, they are very difficult to watch.
However, it is the screenplay that makes a greater impression. The story starts 20 years after Bulbbul’s marriage. With flashbacks and imagery, the writing builds the intrigue that drives the story Forward. It’s INSTANTLY engaging. But it invests so much in the revelation of the family secrets, that it doesn’t quite build-up to the climax in the present.
I felt emotional short changed as the film came to an early end. However, Avinash Tiwary made up for it with his heartfelt performance.
But perhaps the most remarkable performance, even more than that of Rahul Bose playing the twin Thakurs brilliantly, is that of Tripti Dimri. She is beyond recognition from the Laila of Laila Majnu – her last film. She plays Bulbbul in such a deceptively cavalier way – appearing seductive, dangerous and innocent at the same time. AMAZING.
Bulbbul adds to the list of strong performances by actresses this year. This one is even directed, written and produced by women. It might not be the best year for Cinema, but it’s definitely an amazing year for women in Cinema!