Bulbbul Review – A Fairy Tale Gone Wrong
Despite the fabulously written characters, the beautiful mansion of Kolkata and the brilliance of all the actors, Bulbbul remains a period drama fairy tale that unfortunately went wrong in many aspects.
Unclear Genre of Bulbbul
Most of the Bollywood movies of recent times do not strictly adhere to any specific genre. They are mostly an amalgamation of the filmmakers borrowed lessons from across various genres. Bulbbul writer/director Anvita Dutt also tried to experiment with genres ranging from a fairy tale, period drama, vengeance story and social justice tale. However, she could not strike the right balance between the genres in her storytelling, rendering the film a confusing concoction of unmixable elements.
Bulbbul is too dark to be a fairy tale, too modern to be a period drama, too virtuous to be a tale of vengeance and too one-sided to be a movie about a social cause.
You can skip to the next paragraph to avoid spoilers.
Along with the genre of the film, Bulbbul also confused me regarding its supernatural aspect. First, Bulbbul’s marketing itself presented it as a supernatural movie. Second, the makers of Bulbbul hint at the presence of a supernatural being right from at the beginning of the film. However, the big revelation (which is not that big or unexpected really) or twists of the movies is that the supposed supernatural being of the film is the very human Bulbbul herself and that she can get hurt and may also die as humans would do in a forest fire. Then again, in the film’s ending, we once again see Bulbbul as a supernatural being made of ash, which she presumably turned into after she burned in the forest fire.
Not to mention the fact that initially, the film hints that Goddess Kali was the source of Bulbbul’s source of supernatural power, but then it also hints at her childhood tree-climbing habit as its source.
Basically, the writer/director herself doesn’t seem to be entirely sure whether the protagonist of her story, Bulbbul, is supernatural or not.
*Spoilers End Here*
You can continue reading from below without the risk of spoilers.
Despite everything that went wrong with Bulbbul, the writer/director wrote impressive characters and the makers got the perfect cast to play them too.
Rahul Bose portrays the double roles of Bulbbul’s husband Indranil — the uptight, loving yet cruel and chauvinistic Bengali landlord and Mahendra — Indranil’s specially abled twin who is still a child in the head but has grown very adult below the belt. Bose’s performance adds depth to the already complex characters and makes them as human and usual as fiction characters can ever become.
Though Tripti Dimri plays the protagonist Bulbbul’s role slightly loudly, she does not make it over the top and somehow the loud acting fits perfectly in the film. Her portrayal of the two extreme aspects — the initial innocence and the latter zealous nonchalance — of Bulbbul’s personality is definitely applause-worthy.
The talented Paoli Dam plays the character of Binodini — cunning, selfish and conniving woman with a tragic past and an even more tragic future. Dam’s perfect performance makes the viewers love her and hate her and feel pity for her, all at the same time.
Avinash Tiwari plays Satya — the soft and sensitive guy that feigns foolhardiness to uphold the family name but fails miserably in doing so because of his moral compass. Tiwari skillfully brings out all these qualities of the character and while also maintaining the chauvinistic undercurrent that says he can flirt with his brother’s wife and that does not cross the line yet when Bulbbul reciprocates, she commits a horrific moral sin.
Lack of visual storytelling
Though filmmaking, though called story-telling, is actually all about story-showing. Films become a visual treat when the story being told in them unfolds through the visuals more than it does through dialogues or other gimmicky elements. I feel that the primary reason for Bulbbul not being entertaining enough, despite so many significant elements in it, is because of the lack of visual storytelling.
Though the film is not too wordy, the tale moves forward primarily through dialogues and narration and spoken words. The writer created the scenes in the film to support the dialogues and the spoken words; when any film should always do the exact opposite to be interesting at all.
Therefore, as the array of compelling and beautiful visuals throughout Bulbbul depend on dialogues to portray their value to the viewers, they end up losing their own importance.
Writer’s agenda ruins suspense of Bulbbul
Though the writer has stated in an interview that the feminist agenda in Bulbbul is an unintentional additional benefit, I believe that is is an inseparable part of her writing and hence it seeped into the film may be even subconsciously. However, in delivering the feminist agenda, the writer revealed a lot of important plot points prematurely. As a result, the film’s writer herself soiled the suspense of Bulbbul herself by revealing too-much-too-soon.