Does a man’s philosophical perspective change with time?Does a man’s convictions change with time?Does a man’s view towards a piece of art change with time?.. for all the above questions my answer would be YES because few days ago i watched Shyam Benegal’s BHUMIKA for the second time,the first time i watched it was a couple of years ago when i was in my third year of engineering when i was watching it for the second time i could not resist myself from viewing every scene with a microscopic eye.The first time was a good watch with the sense of feelings of diversion from the mainstream cinema,a wonderful and screenplay,remarkable performances and good direction.The second time was a little different ,the shots and scenes are like bubbles in a hot water which just come for few moments and vanish before the other ones are ready to come .
BHUMIKA is a story about a film actress who undergoes through various stages and various situations in her life which have been challenging throughout her life.The untypical narration of the film which moves to and fro with the flashbacks and the present and the thought provoking screenplay makes BHUMIKA a masterpiece.Instead of writing the plot and my views on it i would rather go by few moments,resemblance, symbolism and characters of the film that made me feel BHUMIKA a distinct film of the 1970’s-1990’s era.
The film starts by shooting of a song which stars Usha (Smita Patil) and after the shooting she waits for her car but eventually Usha gets into Rajan’s (Anant Nag) car and after that we see a movie poster ‘Agni Pariksha’ being moved by some men which hints us at the life of Usha.The film title is used in many instances of the film.The next scene in which we see Keshav Darvi (Amol Palekar) and Usha arguing on some issue and we hear the dialouge from Usha
“Meri Kamayi ki zarrorat hai isi liye hain na?”.
After this dialogue i was expecting a slap from Keshav Darvi instead he lights a cigarette with a furious look and continues his dialogue.In the next scene Benegal at a time involves 4 characters Usha,Usha’s Daughter,Usha’s Mother and Keshav demonstrating encapsulation and capturing the emotions and feelings of all the characters within less time.If the previous mentioned scene was to be directed by a normal mainstream director he would have perhaps made Usha meet every character then show her emotions and then leave the house.
In the flashback which is in Black and White where Ushas mother beats Usha for being rude and after that to show the love between the Mother and Daughter he uses only one scene in which Usha comes towards her mother and sleeps beside her.Shyam Benegal infuses some humor and comedy too,the scene where Usha goes near her grandmother and test her breathe whether she is alive or dead.The scene in which the heroine of the film tells that she has been selected and leaves in her car the next scene is the car scene in which Usha leaves the house.
To show the relationship between Usha and Rajan Benegal uses very smart visuals like the shooting a sword fight scene in which Rajan refers to the character as Usha and the portrait of Rajan and Usha hanging on a wall,throughout the film we hardly find any desperate dialogues between the characters.The screenplay is built in such a way that the viewer unconsciously gets into the mood of the characters.
Sunil Verma (Naseeruddin Shah) and Usha (Smita Patil) :
Sunil Verma is the most distinctive role played by Naseeruddin Shah.Sunil Verma is a film director who does not believe in Emotional and Sentimental issues, he sees life as a job and nothing else.The most interesting dialogues come through Sunil Verma’s tongue,when he uses his daughters death as a excuse to not to play HOLI which actually uses it as a trick.He feels that Reincarnation,soul,etc… are bullshit.
“Apne is desh mein dimak se koi sochta nahin hain,Dil se sochte hai sab.”
“Haqeeqat ko nazar andaaz karna hum logo ki qasiyat hai Usse bhi mann nahi bahla to Aatma.Punar Janm ki baton se mann behlayenga”.
“Accident mein marna mujhe pasand nahin hai,mein maroonga to khud kushi karke,Aatma Hatya,lekin us waqt nahin jab mein gambhir and mayoos hoon,kushi aur itminaan ka lamha chunoonga”.
“Zindagi ke hakeeqat to tune hamesha rangeen chasmo se dekha hain”.
After talking all the above nonsense eventually he gives us a surprise leaving Usha in the state of dilemma.
Vinayak Kale (Amrish Puri) and Usha (Smita Patil):
The first encounter of Usha with Vinayak Kale (Amrish Puri) was a rough one in which Vinayak Kale exudes his disrespect towards actresses but later Usha is comfortable being a pampered mistress of Vinayak Kale.The character of Vinayak Kale is filled with masked evil.At the first meeting itself he tries to dominate Usha by showing his disrespect without any fear and later when they are on their way to Vinayak Kale’s palace he says
Vinayak Kale :Woh dekho mera Beta.
Usha:Tumhara Beta ??
Usha:Tumhe muje kabhi bataya nahin…
Vinayak Kale :Usha? Maine tumhe bataya nahin ya tumne mujse poocha nahin… ya ..yeh baat hi nahin nikli..yeh sab mumkin hain
abhi bhi waqt hain. agar tum wapas jana chahti ho to driver tume wapis drop kardega.
After stepping into the house of Vinayak Kale when she comes to know that she cant step outside the house and her life is confined to the palace she approaches for the help of Keshav.The scene in which Keshav comes with the police and takes Usha away from the palace,the scene is shot without any dialogues and the camera is placed at a crazy angle which hardly any other director would attempt to do it but it has a profound impact.
BHUMIKA has high technical values like the Cinematography, large part of the film is shot in Black and White, i have never seen such a wonderful Black and white Cinematography.The Screenplay is the greatest asset of the film which is written by Satyadev Dubey , Shyam Benegal and Girish Karnad for which they won the National Award,the screenplay is simple with some powerful expressions.There is a scene in which Smita Patil faces the Mirror which reminded me of a scene from Wim Wenders ‘Wings of Desire’,i am not trying to say that Wim Wenders copied from BHUMIKA,those are few hints which one could find from a directors work to guess that he is great director.
The above written stuff may be a little exaggerated to many readers but this is something really true which i have witnessed after i watched it for the second time.
Originally published on Passionforcinema.com