Movie review- “Bhumika-The Role”

Bhumika-The Role(color)

Date of release: November 11, 1977

Starring: Smita Patil

Amol Palekar

Anant Nag

Naseeruddin Shah

Amrish Puri

Kiran Virale

Sulabha Deshpande

Music: Vanraj Bhatia

Written by: Shyam Benegal, Girish Karnad, Satyadev Dubey

Story: Hansa Wadkar

Cinematography: Govind Nihalani

Running time: 142 minutes

Language: Hindi

Produced by: Lalit M. Bijlani, Freni Variava

Directed by: Shyam Benegal

Bhumika is one of my all time favorite movies or let me rephrase myself, my all time favorite Benegal movie. Bhumika was based on the autobiography of Marathi actress Hansa Wadkar who was active on Marathi screen and stage in the 1940’s and 1950’s.The movie is about searching one’s own identity which Bhumika made alive on big screen. Its about frustration of an actor and search for an inner peace by the female protagonist who in the world ruled by men tries to live with them(by making compromises sometimes)but tragically, fails all the time. It efficaciously makes us realize that the society which we live in has made rules which should not be used to judge a person on moral grounds as these rules are made just to live with ease and convenience without much mental or social disturbance in life by shunning them.

Usha(Smita Patil) is an actress who is successful on screen but a failure in her personal life and relationships.(In flashback) Usha is from a family where her grandmother was a singer from famous Devdasi  tradition from konkani background and her family(Hansa Wadkar’s family) has preserved priceless classical music throughout the years.

Since her childhood, Keshav Dalvi(Amol Palekar),who is much older than her and has done many favors to her family,behaves clumsily with her and as soon as she steps into her teenage, he convinces her to marry him. Soon after her marriage with Keshav, she realises that her husband still behave as her manager and wants her to act in movies. This is the turning point and here starts the frustration of Usha. (Coming to the present)Being a chauvinistic man, Keshav abuses Usha  verbally as well as physically even in front of their daughter Sushma(Kiran Virale), as he is under the impression that Usha and the actor Rajan(Anant Nag) are having an affair. Meanwhile, she comes across narcissistic film director, Suneel Verma(Naseeruddin Shah) with whom she plans a double suicide, but it never happens. Usha leaves the house and stays in a hotel where she meets Vinayak Kale(Amrish Puri) who takes her to his palatial mansion only to keep her as a mollycoddled mistress which the distressed Usha happily accepts to behave as. With affable relation with Kale’s wife who is confined to bed by paralysis,she enjoys her new life until she realizes that she has been confined unknowingly to this mansion and not even allowed to step outside the house. She somehow manages to call Keshav for rescue and leaves Kale’s estate only to leave even Keshav after reaching Bombay all over again. This is the end where Usha is standing in her house alone and still unsuccessful in relationships.

The story of Bhumika is inspired by the autobiography of Hansa Wadkar called “Sangtye Aika” which would publish in a Marathi magazine as a series.

This piece of writing was certainly a very candid and intrepid one by any actor.

The movie came when the feminism movements were very much active in the western countries but was looked down upon by the Indian society. The struggle of a woman for self-recognition and respect has been depicted in the movie in the era in which feminists in India were not active(movies like “Heroine”(2012) and “Fashion”(2008) came decades after this marvellous piece of work). Bhumika, interestingly raises the topic very well that a man in the society(patriarchal one) is recognized and known by his work, but on the contrary, women are always judged on the success and failures of the relationships they have been involved in. This parameter for judging both men and women has been carved out in the movie so subtly and at the same time so clearly that it makes Bhumika the one movie of its own kind and probably the first of its kind. The movie also shows how a women should be ready to be left alone if she is willing to gain her independence which is not the case in the independence of a man.

Smita Patil, with the intensity and pitch that she has used in this movie has made it one of the best and most brilliantly played role by her in her lifetime. Her transformation from a vivacious teenager to a middle aged nonchalant woman left viewers speechless when it came on silver screen but what really is magnificent is the conviction with which she has played the role of a women screaming loudly deep inside her weeping heart for the recognition and love that she has always wished for but has never got.

And it is this conviction that makes Bhumika a benchmark or anthem for feminism in Indian cinema. Bhumika no doubt is one of her best works or as many believes, her best work till date and Bhumika could never be the way it is without this beautiful and flair actress named Smita Patil.

Amol Palekar as Keshav Dalvi will make you hate him in this movie. Now you can understand how convincingly he must have played the role of a man who cannot live without the monetary support of her wife and brazenly abuse and torture her mentally as well as physically. He gets into the skin of Keshav’s character as a man who lusted after Usha since her childhood and the husband who asks his wife to abort their unborn child. It is impossible to believe that he is the same actor who has played the role of a meek gentleman in so many other movies. It is the one movie which is totally different from the filmography of Palekar. Keshav’s shameless attitude has been portrayed very well by him and this prolific actor will always be remembered for this benchmark.

Anant Nag, who previously did a remarkable collaboration with Benegal in movies like Ankur(1974) and Nishant(1975), did a masterly portrayal of a heartthrob Rajan who is in love with Usha but never gets success in getting the same response from her for some unknown reasons not shown in the movie.

Naseeruddin Shah, as usual did a remarkable job as a filmmaker who is excessively interested in the admiration of his own abilities and leaves us impressed.

Amrish Puri, has done a great job as an understated Vinayak Kale. His cold and stern dialogues which leaves Usha dumbstruck are worth mentioning here. He has a small role to play but he can surely impress everyone with his role in the movie.

Summing up my views on this masterpiece by Benegal, I can say that there is a parallel cinema and then there is a cinema which redefines the parallel cinema with a movie like Bhumika-The Role. Feminism which was an indolent thing in the 1970’s has been discussed in it, decades before the makers started discussing it in their movies. Every aspect of Bhumika-The Role is great whether it is the music of maestro Vanraj Bhatia or cinematography by Govind Nihalani and writing by Girish Karnad and Satyadev Dubey.


Baaju re mondar baaju re-Saraswati Rane, Meena Fatharpekar

Ghat ghat mein ram ramaiya-Firoz Dastur

Mera ziskila balam na aya-Preeti Sagar

Meri zindagi ki kashti tere-Chandru Aatma

Saawan ke din aaye sajanwa aan milo-Bhupinder Singh, Preeti Sagar

Tumhare bina jee na lage ghar mein-Preeti Sagar

Review by: Shekhar Srivastava

‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ is a proof our society is changing positively

An actress of 42 is romancing an actor of 33! Isn’t it something we come across quite rarely in Bollywood? And even if we do, the movie is either an “artistic” one or it’s not shown in a very conventional manner like other b-town movies depict. In short we’ve never had an out and out commercial masala entertainer with this “older woman-young man” element before. Contrary to this, Karan Johar’s next directorial venture ‘Ae dil hai mushkil'(ADHM) shows our very own beauty queen Aishwarya Rai Bacchan romancing our youth icon Ranbir Kapoor. The sizzling chemistry between Mrs Bacchan and Mr Kapoor is ready to break the stereotype that tells us that only a 50 plus male actor can romance a lady who’s in her 20s or even less than that. It’s not just the romance but also the passionate intimacy between them which is worth noticing as married actresses are always forbidden to show such intimacy on screen.

Now it’s not just that. Coming out of the reel world of cinema, it’s a kind of taboo for a man to have an affair with an older woman and vice versa in our society. Even if it’s been shown in the movies, the movies are either rejected by the audiences or it’s shown as illicit or a part of infidelity. But with this movie, I can’t see people even raising that point of age gap between the lead pair. In fact the pairing seems to be extremely fresh to us all. The hype and craze of the movie shows that audience is more than  just ready to accept the lead pair ignoring the age factor which has been hitherto a very important aspect of our movies. If it’s not the changed perspective of our society on relationships then what else is this!
Also, it seems that this movie will touch more mature issues as seen in the teaser how four people and their lives are intertwined with each other. Keeping in mind all these aspects it is very much clear that we are evolving and so is our Bollywood which is seen as the mirror of our society. Showing such mature overtone in the movie proves that our society is growing up and accepting the fact that relationships are much more than age or other such factors.
Well that’s not a very astonishing fact actually as it’s a Kjo movie and he’s known to break stereotypes in Bollywood be it making a movie on terrorism like My name is khan, or on homosexuality like Dostana or Kapoor&sons. So kudos to Kjo and let’s just wait for ADHM to witness how many other stereotypes are ready to be broken in terms of relationships and their depth. Till then enjoy the beautiful heart touching soulful music of the movie and have fun. 😉😉😉

Most underrated yet immensely talented actor-Urmila Matondkar

Her acting  skill is phenomenal. Her dancing is the expression of passion and fire she has in her mind and soul. Her moves touches you. She’s one of the most prolific and complete actor Indian cinema has ever produced or I should better say Indian cinema has ever had the opportunity to work with. She’s none other than Urmila Matondkar.
When a sweet little girl Urmila first appeared in Shekhar Kapoor’s classic masterpiece masoom, her performance accorded her special attention and love from the audience but never had the world realized what gem of film industry they are having the extreme privilege of looking at.

Urmila made her debut as an adult in Bollywood with narsimha which was a commercial success but the movie didn’t do much to propel her career and she was just received as another newcomer but few years later in the year 1995, Ramgopal Varma made romantic rangeela with her and this was the movie which happened to be the spur to her career.
With rangeela’s success and Matondkar’s highly appreciated performance and specially because of her acting skills she became Ramgopal Varma’s prodigy.
Her next Ramgopal Varma movie daud couldn’t create the magic of rangeela although. But she had become the sex symbol of b-town till now. With rangeela’s sizzling dance moves and daud’s steamy show, she proved that she’s not made for the stereotypes albeit she had a  successful movie like judaai as well in her bag. But her next Ramgopal movie satya showed her in a completely different light altogether. As a Marathi girl who lives in a chawl, she lived her role to its fullest and convinced the audience that they have seen just one side of this diva.
But what left the audiences utterly awestruck was her next Ramgopal movie kaun which showcased her deft  acting  talents like never before. She plays the role of a psycho serial killer  in this flick,  who’s mentally ill and  wreaks havoc on a fierce stormy night. After this, there was no looking back for miss Matondkar as her next ventures specially those which portrayed her  in the most unconventional manner garnered her  many accolades that an actor wishes for. Her  performance as a vulnerable girl next door in jungle, portrayal of an obsessive lover in pyar tune kya kiya or role of a possessed woman in bhoot proves that she’s one of the most finest actresses of the country who can get inside the soul of  each character that she plays. At this point of her career people started believing that her days are over now and she can’t do any better in her career than she previously did.
This was the time for Urmila to get back with a bang. Extremely versatile Urmila played the role a village belle this time-in pinjar– who has been abducted and is forced to live away from her family in the direst circumstances. Urmila played her role in an extraordinarily understated way and her subtle performance again won many hearts.
In her next  movie she played a role which not only proved that she’s a great actor but also that she’s a one man show. The movie was ek haseena thi and this time she played the role of an innocent girl who after being cheated by her boyfriend-which landed her in jail-turns out be an extremely shrewd avenger. After this Urmila did movies like bas ek pal and garnered critical accolade as well but this was the point when she started maintaining distance from movies. The reason might be the lack of  similar scripts that she has liked in her career. Whatever the reason is, Urmila has been one of the greatest actresses of our time and at the same time most underrated actress according to me. She has been regarded as a fine actress but with the kind of performances that she has given back to back, she deserves recognition more than that and more than many actresses of Bollywood.
There is no doubt that being such an actress with perfection in every role she has not been given much acclaim than she deserves but this is also a fact that Urmila is known as a great actress to all those who like movies with great performances and a gripping plot. Urmila is happily married  now and all that we can do is to wait for her to come back with her extreme talents in her second innings. Till then,  if you haven’t seen her  best movies yet  then do watch and enjoy the showcase of talent,  titillating beauty and beautiful innocence of a gorgeous diva called Urmila.