Source: The Hitavada      Date: 23 Sep 2017 11:39:29



By Farina Salim Quraishi

Vengeance was never served this strong or with such frequency before in Hindi films. After blind-man Hrithik Roshan in Kaabil, resourceful professor Sridevi in Mom and an impassioned mother Raveena Tandon in Maatr, taking up cudgels against atrocities, it’s time for Sanju Baba to step into the shoes of retribution and revenge. And in the shoes that seem tailor-made for him, Sanjay Dutt - making a comeback post his incarceration – is every inch the powerful performer he is, with his glorious greys adding gravitas to his blazing act. But unfortunately, the channel of his fire in Bhoomi is Bollywoodish to its core, with drama and dishoom dishoom trampling over every subtle nuance in its wake.

Bhoomi, set in Agra, revolves around a simple shoe-smith Arun Sachdeva (Sanjay Dutt) and the light his life, his daughter, Bhoomi (Aditi Rao Hydari). Raising his daughter as a single parent, Arun takes a lot of pride in Bhoomi being an independent working girl. Bhoomi too dotes on her progressive thinking father and is pained by the thoughts of leaving her parental home after her wedding, which is to be solemnised in a few days time. In all the revelry, Bhoomi’s jilted pursuer Vishal (Puru Chibber), egged on by his evil cousin Dhoulee (Sharad Kelkar), expresses his undying love, yet again. An angry Bhoomi sends him packing, but not before he swears revenge. On the eve of her wedding, Bhoomi is kidnapped and violated as punishment by the three men, shattering the sweet world of the Sachdevas.

As far as retribution dramas go, Bhoomi treads the tried and tested path enthusiastically, packing in all clinches and stereotypes for bombastic effect. Hardly surprising then that the bad guys are unrepentant, cops are apathetic, neighbours are judgmental, the victim is shamed even the lawyers are inhumane and the justice system is flawed and favours the powerful. Omung Kumar’s Bhoomi has all of these and then some more! With little originality and too much banality, Bhoomi is an uninspiring throwback to the revenge dramas of the 70s.

Sure there are some sequences which are promising here and there, especially the one wherein Bhoomi talks about moving on and suicide being a big ‘no’ for assault survivors, but these are too muted and watered down to make an impact. In efforts to make the film hard-hitting, the director has traded subtlety for dramatics and as a result, even the most sensitive scene fails to tug the heart-strings. The loud lines and gratingly frequent use of the word rape trivialises the somber problem, making it appear facile. Also, the shoddily crafted script has no room for a properly plotted revenge drama. The assailants simply keep dropping dead, with law and cops finding little to investigate into the crimes committed in board-daylight by Sanjay Dutt!

That Omung Kumar has a star-performer to see his badly-executed idea through is the biggest plus of the film. Though the movie is named after Aditi Rao’s character, it is Sanjay Dutt who is the power behind the film. Carrying the entire movie on his now-sagging shoulders, Sanjay Dutt is in formidable form and easily puts up his most restrained performance till date. With eyes that implore for understanding and fiery enough to be ominous, Sanjay is terrific as a docile father metamorphosing into an agent of vengeance. His deeply lined face and expressive body language are great testimonies to his pain and he does a fantastic job of expressing his angst with a minimum of words, letting his fists and eyes do most of the talking. Despite the fact that the death penalty for rapists is open to debate, Sanjay Dutt’s Arun Sachdeva believes in it wholeheartedly, and goes about achieving his means with deadly conviction. Check out the sequence wherein he lists capital punishment for rape in several countries; the eerie chill of the scene is sure to give one goosebumps.

Aditi Rao Hydari can surely cry buckets with elan. With most of her screen time requiring her to sob continuously, Aditi is convincing is her anguish and trauma. Shining in parts that require her to be strong, Aditi is let down by a badly etched character. Sharad Kelkar, as the moustache twirling gang-lord, is menacing as the unabashed meanie. With his thunderous voice and baleful stare, he is a formidable foe. But given the fact that his punchlines and character are painted the deepest shade of black, there is little to redeem his grey act. Shekar Suman as Sanjay Dutt’s drinking buddy is over-the-top and grates on the nerves with his drunkard act. With too much melodrama and precious little substance, this revenge saga is strictly for Sanjay Dutt fans. Those looking for more can take a rain check.

The Hitavada Rating: O O