“It’s so disappointing that no films are being made anymore involving social commentary like we did in the past,” I recently told my friend Sneha. This is mainly due to the current political climate we live in. Even Bheed had to go through some 20 corrections, mainly involving the use of certain words, before it was deemed ready for the big screen by the censor board.
Sometimes, art can help you understand an event and its implications better through a well-thought-out and deeply considered perspective. Anubhav Sinha is a master at taking anecdotal accounts and making impactful messages on society in movies like Mulk, Thappad, and Article 15, with Anek being the one preachiness-laden exception.
Bheed revolves around a group of migrants who, post the national lockdown, are looking to get back to their homes but are stopped at a checkpoint due to the authorities’ decision to restrict movement between states. The in-charge of the checkpoint, played by the ever-dependable RajKumar Rao, is a Dalit who’s violently reminded of the same by a Brahmin pandit’s son, played by Pankaj Kapur.
There is a doctor played by Bhumi Pednekar who does her best to answer the plight of the several diseased migrants, a high-ranked officer played by Ashutosh Rana who keeps dishing out the hard truth of caste discrimination, an impoverished determined girl who leaves no stone unturned in finding a way to get past the barricade with her alcoholic father, a mom who wants to get to her child’s college before her estranged husband, with a loyal chauffeur who keeps dishing out gems to show his employer that humanity trumps money at various instances.
There is a running gag about how WhatsApp/Facebook can be so dangerously misleading in times like these due to all the false hope the troubled crowd ends up developing. The whole movie is shot in black and white, which worked because the movie had nothing celebratory and fun about it, and the colour tone helps in heightening the mood.
Bheed works as a film but looking to how few people had come to watch it in the theatres and the lack of buzz around it, you can’t help but think the movie would have been better off with a direct release on OTT.
May 2023 Update – You can stream the film on Netflix