Bhakshak review: Bhumi plays a fearless journalist in riveting crime drama – Hindustan Times

Bhakshak movie review: Right from the first scene, you know Bhakshak is not going to be an easy watch. It’s dark, disturbing and distressing, leaving a lump in your throat many a times. Based on true events, this Bhumi Pednekar-starrer gives a glimpse into the dark underbelly of a girls’ shelter home, unearthing painful realities of what happens behind closed doors. (Also Read: Aarya – Antim Vaar review: Sushmita Sen rises to the occasion in rousing finale to a deeply unsettling conclusion)
Directed by Pulkit, the film doesn’t opt for overtly gory visuals to create an impact, yet there are several references by means of gut-wrenching scenes and dialogues that underline severity of the crime.
The story co-written by Pulkit and Jyotsana Nath revolves around an investigative journalist Vaishali Singh (Bhumi Pednekar) in Patna, who puts all her might and gets after exposing a heinous crime within a girls’ shelter home in a small town called Munnawarpur, Bihar. As Vaishali delves deeper into her investigation, she uncovers shocking details about Bansi Sahu (Aditya Srivastava), the owner of the shelter, who is at the helm of all the crimes and abuse, and his allies shamelessly join him in the party.
Despite resistance from the authorities, and being discouraged by her from investigating the matter further, she takes on this daunting task and is at it without battling an eyelid. In her quest to bust this racket, she encounters several obstacles — from police cops to child welfare authorities — but she is resilient in her fight, and doesn’t give up till she accomplishes her mission.
I always feel stories based on or inspired from true events is a tricky affair where taking too many cinematic liberties can often backfire. Thankfully, Bhakshak doesn’t give in to the temptation of such gimmicks and keeps things as real as possible. The poor conditions of a shelter home that evoke a sense of pity, torture on girls that angers you, and struggle of a journalist trying to uncover this truth that makes you feel helpless — the film sheds light on how such crimes remain hidden and most of the times go unreported in small towns.
Bhakshak serves as a riveting crime thriller packaged with a hard-hitting story and a compelling narrative. The film does lose its pace in between, and starts to meander, shifting focus from the crime to the issues that take precedence while reporting it and fighting with the system. While the execution of the script and screenplay is mostly on point, the writing department, I feel, could have been far better. Also, the shock value could have been introduced with more hard-hitting revelations. However, whatever portions, of the girl’s shelter home Bhakshak shows, evoke a sense of disgust and make you uncomfortable, and that’s where the film somewhat succeeds in setting the tone right.
It’s Vaishali’s relentless pursuit to save the girls and get justice for them that drives the narrative. Bhumi aces her portrayal as a fearless journalist. She is convincing, confident and empathetic. From Thank You For Coming to Bhakshak, Bhumi once again shows her prowess, and range as an actor, as she effortlessly shift gears. As Vaishali’s cameraperson, Sanjay Mishra as Bhaskar Sinha has a few comic scenes, but thankfully, the film doesn’t override on them and saves itself from trivializing the whole issue. Sai Tamhankar as SSP Jasmeet Kaur is a very thoughtful addition to the cast, and she brings intensity and gravitas to the story. Aditya Srivastava as the antagonist is yet another strong casting call, and with his expressions and smirks, he manages to make you hate him for his acts.
While there’s very little to complain, Bhakshak, like many other crime dramas, falls prey to certain clichés that you can’t help but notice. The system, politicians, cops, powerplay, bureaucracy and corruption form the core of the film, and that’s where you feel the writing also gets a bites repetitive, and lacks any novelty.
That being said, the last 15 minutes are truly intriguing and keep you invested, especially the background music in the climax scene. Also, watch out for the monologue by Bhumi’s character towards the end with a close-up shot of her. That’s where the film sumps up all what it stands for. Bhakshak is an important story and definitely thought-provoking cinema that starts a conversation.
The film is now streaming on Netflix India.


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