Bhoomi movie cast: Sanjay Dutt, Aditi Rao Hydari, Shekhar Suman, Sharad Kelkar
Bhoomi movie director: Omung Kumar
Bhoomi rating: 1.5 stars
Sanjay Dutt’s umpteenth ‘comeback’ is a ’70s style worn-out rape and revenge film, reeking of staleness. Under the guise of striking a blow for feminism, Bhoomi is, mostly, disturbingly voyeuristic. Yes, a father (Dutt) has every right to rage over the rape of his daughter Bhoomi (Hydari). Yes, he can plot violent revenge. And yes, the film does pay lip service to the notion that a girl, despite being violated, has every right to live ‘with her head held high’.
But this is done only after we’ve been shown, in gory detail, the abduction, the leery faces of the rapists, and the ugly enjoyment of Bhoomi’s neighbours. And only after the mandatory prolonged court scene in which a sneering female prosecutor makes free to shame the victim, and thunder on about ‘girls’ coming home late at night not having any morals.
You do not expect a here-today film to use the phrase ‘character-less’, that old, hoary term of reference, to define a girl who has the courage to complain. Bhoomi bandies it about with glee, while putting the young woman in the dock: aren’t rape trials meant to be in camera?
Here, we have a packed courtroom and the suspects swanning around, and Hydari’s character being made to cry silently in mortification. The viewers behind me were snickering the whole time: if you want to truly change the narrative , you have to be very careful of the languaging around rape, and the incredibly complex feelings of anger, helplessness and shame that surrounds the survivor like a miasma. Making us laugh should not be part of the game.
Dutt’s face is kept in close-up for much of the film, and there is still power in it. This is an actor who can explode off the screen, given the right story. Maybe he needs something much better told to vent his anger.
Or maybe he needs to return as Munnabhai to give us the lessons we love to learn. That would be a real comeback.