Director: Omung Kumar
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sharad Kelkar, Shekhar Suman
Bhoomi is a revenge drama that tries a lot to be bold, brave and advocate feminism but wants to stay in the comfort zone of a typical Bollywood masala film. The result is stereotypes, over-the-top melodrama and a predictable story.
But here’s the good news: Baba is back and Sanjay Dutt fans will be more than happy to see him onscreen. Interestingly, Dutt, who returns to the screen after three years, plays an age-appropriate role in the film directed by Oomung Kumar. And he is in form.
Bhoomi is the story of a father-daughter duo (Sanjay Dutt’s Arun and Bhoomi played by Aditi Rao Hydari) who lead a simple life when a sudden turn of events shake their world.
Aditi Rao and Sanjay Dutt in a still from Bhoomi.
The initial banter between Sanjay and Aditi is syrupy sweet and you already know that half of the scenes will be later used in montages to relay the pain. However, despite being high on melodrama, the emotional scenes manage to convey the love Sanjay and Aditi share onscreen. Sanjay is a single parent, a doting father and Aditi is the cute-but-motherly daughter who often chides him for his drinking habits.
Even these moments are used to focus on the gender discrimination of our society, like during a Ganesha arti, for instance. These often seem forced but given that they are sparsely sprayed over the sequences, we manage to bear with them for the sake of the message intended.
The twist comes when the daughter is gang-raped and the perpetrators are let off at the end of a trial in which the woman is humiliated repeatedly. But they are your average family that tries to pick up the pieces and get their life back in order.
A good half an hour is spent as Sanjay and Aditi try their best to maintain a happy face for each other’s sake. It is only when they realise that a very trusted and close person was also involved in the crime that they seek revenge. Just before they turn to revenge, Aditi even says, “Rape ho gaya to kya karein? Mombatti le ke baith jaayein ya khud ko aag laga ke chillayein ki hume insaaf chahiye?”
The courtroom sequence is reminiscent of Amitabh Bachchan-Taapsee Pannu-starrer Pink. But unlike the 2016 film, the dialogues that focus on the kind of treatment rape survivors get in our society feel forced. A monologue delivered by Dutt about how his daughter is repeatedly humiliated in the court feels especially misplaced. To begin with, he is not even the lawyer.
Even the supporting cast gets a clichéd treatment. Shekhar Suman – designed as the comic relief in an otherwise melodramatic narrative – peppers his dialogues with didactic one-liners.
Sharad Kelkar, the film’s main antagonist, is a throwback to the 80s. He spouts filmy dialogues while threatening people and will wait till the end of shraddh before beginning his nefarious activities.
The climax comes with tired tropes that we associate with such revenge dramas – Hydari is shown as Adi Shakti or a devi of Hindu mythology who is wreaking vengeance. While Dutt does the actual fighting, symbolically, Hydari is the one punishing the wrong-doers. Oh, the demands of Bollywood masala train.