‘BHAVAI’ IS METAPHORICALLY POWERFUL

Rating: 4/5
Director Hardik Gajjar resorts to the interplay between an epic and the current times to give you a perspective on good and bad

It is not for the first time that you will see an epic story finding connect in today’s situations. This has happened in cases relating to Ramayana or Mahabharata. Why you will like Bhavai is for how simplistically yet effectively this connect has been established. Who is Ram or who is Raavan? Who is good? Who is bad? Who is the real you? the notions that seem strong enough in poetry have found space in the realistic context in how the screenplay has been penned. Not to mention, the ever existing marriage of religion and politics is also not untouched.

Watch the trailer here:

PLOT

In a small remote village in Gujarat, Rajaram (Pratik Gandhi) aspires to be an actor. He seems to have found a way of channelising his dreams when a Ramleela group arrives in his village to perform. Happy with any role that he can begin with, as fate would have it, he lays his hands on the role of Raavan, the main antagonist of Ramayan.

STORY/SCREENPLAY/GENERAL

The story is written by Hardik Gajjar. The screenplay and dialogues are penned by Gajjar and Shreyas Anil Lovlekar. At the first look, this is a simple story where Ramleela and the characters of Ramayan find a connect in modern day situations. But as you see Ramleela happening on stage for those 9 days of Navratri, you uncover hidden meanings. Meanings that are intricately woven in the screenplay. This is where you appreciate the smart work that has gone into writing this piece.

The dialogues of the play (or rather Ramayan) have not been compromised with or modified. They stick to the epic tale of Ram-Raavan. But the meanings that they hide within themselves intertwining with the personal lives of the actors who are playing roles on stage, strike a conversation with you inner conscience. There are times when you are introduced to certain characters independent of the play and the play is conceived to give their roles depths and layers. For example, the protagonist of the film (or the hero) plays a villain. Is he then a hero or a villain? The lady in question (Sita in the play, or the heroine of the story otherwise) falls in love with the hero. But the hero is a villain (Raavan). This overlapping of the roles that the actors play in the film makes it a sort of double role with dual identities, beautifully merged together.

bhavai, review, hindi, film, 2021
A shot from the film (image source: youtube.com)

Ofcourse, the subplot involving politics and one man using religion to make a name on politics is also brought out. It is this subplot that gains prominence towards the end of the film, where what you had as the main plot all through the film subsides for good, and the subplot takes over giving you a climax that shocks you in a way. Indeed, cinematically, you can’t think of a better climax for this one. The climax makes it all worthwhile. Even the flaws that you observed all the while seem to diminish because of a powerfully executed climax.

The production value of the film is always a problem. You clearly wish there was more of visual richness to this, especially when the frames scream of emptiness. The film suffers mainly because of lack of technical finesse in almost all departments.

PERFORMANCES

Pratik Gandhi is simply wonderful. As a timid boy who is almost begging for a role in Ramleela to mouthing strong thunderous dialogues when he has become Raavan, he is rightly suited. There are two shades to his personality here, and he is equally earnest in both of them. His second scene as Raavan will give you goosebumps for sure.

Aindrita Ray looks charming, performs fairly well. But she definitely could be better as an actor. It seems that she is putting great efforts to look effortless.

Abhimanyu Singh has a strong persona and he uses that to his advantage nicely. Flora Saini has her moments, but mostly, she doesn’t have much scope to perform.

bhavai, film, hindi, review, 2021
Pratik Gandhi playing Raavan in the film (image source: youtube.com)

Rajendra Gupta is good, mostly loud, as the character demands that from him. But even in emotional scenes, he performs ably. Rajesh Sharma is hilarious and mature and acts as a thread between all the actors on board. He has an aura of a senior always there to guide others. Ankur Vikal is decent in a role that hasn’t been written very well. Ankur Bhatia is brilliant with his expressions and body language. Bhagyashree Mote is also okay.

OTHER TECHNICALITIES

Shabbir Ahmed’s songs are melodious. More so, they suit the narrative. They sound good and you like to stay with the songs when they appear. The score by Prasad S is good, could be better. The instrumentation used in some scenes doesn’t really fit. The tunes are good but the desired effect isn’t created, in some portions. In climax, the score works magic.

Cinematography by Chirantan Das is average. The biggest flaw that you can clearly notice is that the film gets disturbing to watch at many points because of the shake due to the hand-held camera. Unnecessary movements have been attempted in places where it could have been done with a steady camera setup. Also, the lighting could be better conceptualised and executed for a visual flair. Production design by Jayant Deshmukh must also be blamed for not being able to create a polished piece. The frames and walls and the spaces don’t look vibrant enough to draw attention. Thanks to the content and actors that you are still glued.

Editing by Kanu Prajapati and Satya Sharma is fair. The pace is reasonable. The final cut is decent. The flow has been maintained correctly, keeping in mind the positioning of the dialogues in the play and the situations people have in their lives.

It’s a good watch. Hitting at the inner grey area, the story brings out meanings subtly, with grace. The climax makes it up for an immersive experience.

Rochak Saxena

Rochak Saxena a Mass Media Teacher, former journalist at DNA and an ardent lover of Hindi films - literally. The blog derives its name from the popular term ‘Willing Suspension of Disbelief’, most commonly used in the world of literature and cinema. Meaning to immerse yourself in an unreal world (where you know what you see on screen is fake) with a self-proclaimed/declared belief/wish to consider it real, the willing world becomes magical. It’s the same magic every Friday that drives Rochak to share things in the perspective that it needs to be observed with. Every film is different. And the difference needs to be cherished.

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