Art & Entertainment

‘Bhakshak’ On Netflix Movie Review: Bhumi Pednekar Pokes Humanity’s Collective Conscience On Child Abuse And Juvenile Rapes

Outlook Rating:
3 / 5

Netflix is here with another hard-hitting film on child abuse. But is the Bhumi Pednekar starrer investigative thriller worth your time? Or can you simply skip it? Read the full movie review to find out.

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A Still From ‘Bhakshak’ Photo: Instagram
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Child injustices are something that everyone in the country is aware of. However, there are certain aspects of child abuse and juvenile rapes that happen in a few lower strata of our society, and we conveniently brush them under the rug without standing up for them and raising our voice against them. Netflix is here with another such hard-hitting tale which investigates one such instance in a small township nearby Patna, Bihar. Here’s what ‘Bhakshak’ is all about.

‘Bhakshak’: Story

‘Bhakshak’ revolves around a journalist (Bhumi Pednekar) who gets a tip about a children’s home being involved in child abuse and juvenile rapes, and she is hell bent of taking the perpetrators to justice. As no one is willing to take action against the child shelter as it has the support from some big politician of the area, she takes it upon herself to expose the entire nexus. What she does and how she achieves her goals despite the towering opposition from her family members formulates the rest of the story.

‘Bhakshak’: Performances

Bhumi Pednekar gives another hard-hitting performance. What’s good about her act is that it’s very genuine and relatable. The dialect that she’s achieved to the way she has managed to get the emotional nuances of a small-town girl trying to make it big in the world are terrific. Not to forget the monologue that she delivers at the very end leaves you with goosebumps.

Aditya Shrivastava is such a fine actor that every time he is onscreen you know that he will bring something or the other that’s new. He played the character of the owner of the girl’s shelter with so much conviction that you’re compelled to believe that he has met such characters in his real life. He is so convincing as that character. What’s even better is the way that he doesn’t let the character ever feel that it’s doing something wrong. Getting that utter conviction for even a negative character is mind blowing.

Sanjay Mishra may have had a smaller part in the film, but he manages to hold his own. He gives the little bit of comic touch to the rather serious story.

Sai Tamhankar seemed to be a waste in the character of a cop. It seemed that the character required for the cop was that of a woman, and despite not having too much meat into the character, still Sai Tamhankar decided to take it on. It’s not that she didn’t perform it well, but what’s wrong here is an actor of her stature needed to have much more to do onscreen. There could well have been added one scene to showcase how strong of a cop she is. The makers have shown a small incident on the newspaper, but that’s like a blink-and-miss shot. Sai Tamhankar should have got a full scene where she could have shown her power as the lady cop. Here, she just felt like a wasted talent.

Durgesh Kumar leaves his impact even in 4-line part. The anguish that he shows off onscreen reminds you of the character that he plays in Amazon Prime Video’s ‘Panchayat’. It would have been wonderful to see more of what Durgesh Kumar’s character was up to while Bhumi Pednekar and Sanjay Mishra were running around town for the news report.

The rest of the supporting cast is decent, however, there is no stand out performance.

‘Bhakshak’: Script, Direction & Technical Aspects

The writing by Jyotsana Nath and Pulkit is the strongest aspect of ‘Bhakshak’. The varied nuances that they’ve got into the storyline helps you have a grasp of what is happening in some small towns of rural India. While the scenario is something that everyone is aware of, but putting that up in a way that’s not demeaning but rather empowering and motivating others to come out and speak of such injustices is a brilliant way to put the story.

Pulkit’s direction is good. He has managed to keep it as real as possible. Shooting in real locations, taking actors who look the part to perfection, getting their dialects precisely well, narrating a hard-hitting tale and still keeping things interesting – everything he has done shows aptly onscreen. What’s even more interesting is that he has not shown too much gore onscreen, and have used that in passing quite a lot, so that the viewer doesn’t feel eked out to watch the film. The ample usage of great background score makes you feel the pain and pathos of the situation. However, he does miss out on giving closures to some pointers of the film. Also, there are a few backstories that could have been explored and a few unnecessary parts from the film could have been trimmed down. That would have made it even more interesting.

Kumar Sourabh’s cinematography was good. As it was shot almost entirely in real locations the scenes felt even more striking. A bit more of lighting could have been done in some of the scenes inside the child shelters. I know it must have been kept so as to create the darkness of the situation feel even more, but Kumar Sourabh should have also realised that the viewers are watching the film on OTT and not in theatres, and therefore they would not be able to see some of the minute details in the dark alleyways.

The editing by Zubin Sheikh could have been given a bit more leeway. It feels that in order to keep the film crisp for OTT, a few side stories were missed. The story of Bhumi Pednekar’s husband was almost skipped in the second part. Then the lack of the backstory for the informant played by Durgesh Kumar. Also, not showing the powerful persona of the cop character played by Sai Tamhankar was a bad choice. I understand it would have extended the run time and caused an issue, but a bit of pruning of the exiting film could have made space for these scenes.

The songs by Anurag Saikia and Anuj Garg along with the background score by Clinton Cerejo and Bianca Gomes are the best part about the film. All the songs are so apt and sung so well that they make you really emotional. The background score helps you understand the gravity of the situation by making you feel that you’re right there in the middle of the entire action.

‘Bhakshak’: Cast & Crew

Director: Pulkit

Cast: Bhumi Pednekar, Sanjay Mishra, Aditya Srivastav, Sai Tamhankar, Surya Sharma, Chittaranjan Tripathy, Durgesh Kumar, Satyakam Anand, Tanisha Mehta, Vibha Chibber, Pravin Kumar Sisodia, Murari Kumar, Shakti Kumar

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Available On: Netflix

Duration: 2 Hours 15 Minutes

‘Bhakshak’: Can Kids Watch It?

Yes

Outlook’s Verdict

‘Bhakshak’ pokes at humanity’s collective conscience with respect to child abuse and juvenile rapes. The film manages successfully in showcasing the journey of an unwavering woman who leaves no stone unturned in the quest of seeking justice against a heinous crime that’s being committed by the people in power. Bhumi Pednekar’s performance is as realistic as it can be. The story is hard-hitting no doubt, but it could still have had a bit more of thrilling angle so as to make the audience as well be on the edge of their seats. Overall, it’s a Decent One Time Watch. I am going with 3 stars.

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