Bheed Hindi Movie
In the message-heavy Bheed, Anubhav Sinha explores the migrant crisis during the first COVID lockdown. When the government announces the lockdown on short notice, it leaves scores of daily wage workers with no option but to walk home. The first scene of the film itself is horrifying, and Anubhav conveys the subtext subtly. A migrant family is going home through railroad tracks and sleeps on the rails out of tiredness. A train approaches them, and Sinha cleverly ends the scene there. He knows that the existence of over a hundred migrant casualties during COVID is a well-documented fact.
The title "Bheed" means "crowd," but here it implies the diversity of India. Inspector Surya Kumar Singh Tikas (Rajkummar Rao) is in charge of a checkpoint. His job is to ensure that people adhere to the rules and regulations. A large gathering at the checkpoint suffers from the forced nature of the implementation of the law and guidelines. Surya may be new to the senior role, but he has to follow the orders from his superiors.
Each group at the checkpoint has their own stories to tell. There is the story of an alcoholic father and his daughter with a bicycle. Pankaj Kapur plays Balram Trivedi, a man with such hatred for Muslims that he denies the food they give to the children in his bus. Dia Mirza plays Geetanjali, a mother who is dying to get to her daughter before her husband gets there. Kritika Kamra plays a reporter who covers the goings-on at the checkpoint. As for the reporter, the situation is an opportunity to make a sensational documentary. What do they say? One person's loss is another person's gain. There is also a former minister's son who tries to use his political clout to bypass the barricades.
As with most of his films, Anubhav Sinha makes strong political points as well as messages about caste and class divide in Bheed. Amazingly, these ideas go well with the larger narrative about the plight of the workers during COVID. Each of the characters has at least one scene that brings some form of closure to their story. Dia Mirza has a powerful scene that throws light on the difference between the privileged and the underprivileged. It reminds you of those moments in life where one opens their car window by just a wee bit in traffic and dangles some money out of it to the beggar on the road. The privileged neither care for nor empathize with the poor.
There is a subplot involving Ashutosh Rana's inspector character and his subordinate Surya. The dialogue between the two at the end of the film is so powerful that it makes you think about it for hours after you leave the cinema hall. Speaking of cinema, one wonders how much of this truly fits the definition of cinema as we know it. Bheed seems more like a documentary than a movie, but this is not a flaw.
Sinha is becoming a keener observer of the world around us, which is evident in how he uses black-and-white cinematography to create moments that stay with us. There is this unforgettable image of migrant workers getting out of a concrete truck that doubles up as a transportation vehicle.
The performances are excellent across the board. Rajkummar Rao effectively conveys the seething sense of resentment that his character feels. His sex scene with Bhumi Pednekar at the start of the film perhaps belongs in another film, but their relationship works more than just as a love story. Pednekar is perhaps our only source of comfort in this hard-hitting film. On the other hand, Aditya Shrivastav and Ashutosh Rana play their hard-nosed cop characters with aplomb.