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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Review: Bulbbul

Director: Anvita Dutt
Screenplay: Anvita Dutt
Year: 2020

Recently I have been crossing about movies classified as horror, but that only timidly scratch the genre. A recent example of this is "The Tent" and now "Bulbbul" joins the list.

After spending some time in another country, a man returns to his brother's house. There he finds his brother's wife, who was a child, now an adult and a series of mysterious deaths around the place. Intrigued by the deaths and the reason behind them, the man launches an investigation and discovers that the cause of these deaths is something he never would have thought of.

Set in India, "Bulbbul" offers a horror story in a place and culture that we seldom see in this genre. As expected, one of the most interesting things that director Anvita Dutt does in her debut full-length feature film is mixing the culture with what is supposedly a horror story. On the cultural side, the movie thrives in exploiting controversial topics in the Indian culture that lead to horrific moments, but it never really crosses through the line where it can be considered a horror film.

One of the topics that is directly addressed is that of the strong patriarchal system that exists in this country, as well as arranged marriages and underage marriage. During the first minutes of its runtime these conflicts are established when we see the arranged wedding of the protagonist Bulbbul when she was still a child and the subsequent conflict that unfolds when she ends up truly loving another man. Parallel to the story of Bulbbul, the story of a demon-woman that inhabits a nearby forest is told, who can be considered as a witch, a character that inside the horror genre has often been used as an anti-patriarchal symbol and one that promotes female freedom. 

The story of “Bulbbul”, which is presented in a non-chronological fashion, presents us the protagonist before and after the long absence of Satya (Avinash Tiwary), who is her husband’s brother and the man Bulbbul (Tripti Dimri)  falls in love with, what she had to suffer because of this love, and how that suffering changed her. All these are interesting and are presented in a cinematographic frame that is spectacular, supported by superb acting and a great score, but the plot is way too predictable. In the first act you have already discovered the mystery and what left to be seen are the events that lead to it.

“Bulbbul” is an interesting story about the oppression exerted by patriarchal systems over women and at the same time a witch tale. In essence, it is a love story stained by an attraction that never should have been punished by jealousy and a system that allows for this behavior and where the only way to overcome it is through revenge. However, the plot is extremely predictable, and the horror is shy and almost nonexistent and, while horrific events do happen, they do not justify that this movie is classified as a horror movie.

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