New Delhi | Jagran Entertainment Desk: It’s 1881 and the place we are going to be is for an OTT-ride in Bengal presidency. A young girl, barely off her single digit aged years is married off to a man much elder to her. Her patriarchy trodden aunt, while dressing her up for the wedding, puts toe rings in her feet and says that these are worn to control the women. That’s the first moment of reckoning, when as a viewer you get the first layer of patriarchy-trodden impeccability under a terrific screenplay in the packing of a horror drama.

The film, directed by debutant Anvita Dutt and produced by Anushka Sharma and brother Karnesh Sharma-led Clean Slate Productions, is out on Netflix since 24th June. Like most Anushka Sharma productions (all were written by Anvita), Bulbbul puts women at the center of conceptual foregrounding of the story. The film, with its horror-genre wraps up a period drama under the multiple layers of social commentaries on the feudal assertiveness of patriarchy.

Bulbbul, a pre-independence folk tale of a 'Chudail', manages to blend remarkably well with the adjustment of transitional womanhood with stagnant patriarchy. The sets of the film are designed with utmost brilliance, and the victorian-bengali ambience appears striking in one-go. The colourful antagonism filled with superbly designed costumes, sported upon by impeccable performers, makes Bulbbul one of the classiest Horror-dramas-with-meaning created by a desi filmmaker for the OTT world. The Anvita Dutt-written screenplay marks a change in the tide in the shallow sea of horror genre in India, complemented by stunning visual effects and terrific mix up with some of the most sharply relevant notions of patriarchy and feminism extracted out of a setting in 1881.

Film’s music by Amit Trivedi is gripping and intense, which fine tunes the ups and downs of the story and has some terrific out-of-the-tunnel experiences.

The film belongs to the girls of the story, both in front and behind the camera. The enthusiastic writing-direction of Anvita Dutt (who earlier wrote the screenplays for ‘NH-10’, ‘Pari’ and ‘Phillauri’) is fantastically complimented by the lead of the film Tripti Dimri on the screen. Dimri expands beautifully sober yet strikingly dark expressions at the same time, which makes the whole Tripti-Anvita blend wonderfully accurate. Paoli Dam as Binodini, Bulbbul’s sister in law – is another feather of the film whose acceptance of monotonous feudalism and thick patriarchy is thought-provoking amid the supernatural elements of the story. Rahul Bose, too displays his share of crisp expressions, connecting the dynamism of the film to its conceptual roots. Avinash Tiwari (as Satya) is underwhelming in a few scenes, but is workable overall.

Bulbbul (like recently released ‘Gulabo Sitabo’) also has its moments of slow-paced screenplay, which ends up spotting a woeful underutilisation of a powerful concept. For a supernatural drama, some frames of film are genuinely terrifying but it also has its share of some predictably synchronised horror scenes. However, it’s the earlier enticements of the story which are powerful enough to not let you go off the hook, and continues to keep you glued till the end. The climax leaves you with a crucial question, which might stay with you hours after you’ve watched the movie, what is more terrible for society! A ‘chudail’ hanging on to a tree with disfigured feet or the systemic injustice patriarchy delivers to the women while denying the equality?

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta