Bhoomi: Dutt’s comeback is a ghastly movie

Blatantly exploitative and excessive, Bhoomi treats rape as less of a trauma and more of a tool to create a nauseous atmosphere of torture and stigma.  

Director Omung Kumar’s latest stab at significance (Mary Kom, Sarabjit) takes perverse pleasure in a woman’s humiliation under the pretext of standing up for her in extended scenes of victimisation. Often its self-patting depravity jumps out of screen in a manner so abominable, it’s as problematic as its view of mixing honour with violation.   

Bhoomi is no different from those gratuitous and formulaic rape and revenge vehicles that mistake grisly for grit.

Slapping a grim subject with music video sensibilities (a pair of embellished jootis fall off struggling feet forced into a van), dialogues (save our water, save our daughter), humouring vile behaviour, and item songs (a mud slathered Sunny Leone appearing right after a rape scene) only betray the reliability of Kumar’s filmmaking.  

Though its theme of reckless resolves echoes with this year’s Kaabil, Maatr and Mom, Sanjay Dutt’s transition from puffy-eyed apologetic to blood-thirsty slugger has the seriousness of a cabbage.  

Dutt plays a shoemaker in Agra, who combs lice out of his mildly stuttering daughter’s (a flimsy Aditi Rao Hydari, radiant complexion and chic styling can only do so much) hair. In return, she dyes his fast greying mane. Except neither looks like they’ve known Agra beyond Taj Mahal or its five-star walls.

Truth be told, Bhoomi’s realism is as fanciful as her designer bedroom that, with its chikan drapes and kantha-embroidered cushions, looks straight out of the pages of Architectural Digest.  

When the focus isn’t on the baap-beti’s manufactured bond, Dutt and his BFF (Shekhar Suman) get into these unfunny drinking sessions that achieve little except getting on the nerves. The only thing (unintentionally) comic about this association is the suddenness with which Suman is knocked off the plot.  

Once Bhoomi establishes ‘all is hunky dory’ through Hydari’s bride-to-be excitement, it introduces us to a rebuffed mithaiwala, a Didi-chanting lout, a local goon and his pathan-suit clad henchman, wasting no time in demonstrating their villainy.  

What follows is unbelievably bonkers.

Forget the spineless, wedding-cancelling groom but the callousness exhibited by the cops and the court is unnaturally laboured and loud — it’s the anti-PINK, really. 

Instead of concerning itself with crime, the makers turn it into a cry for character certificate that actually suggests ideas for how to get away with rape and descends into irredeemable trash after Dutt delivers his version of ‘Brutus is an honourable man’ speech and bows out with folded hands.

Bhoomi’s penchant for tasteless, tired tropes is evident in its readiness to prolong its brutality or savouring a defeatist approach. 

By the time it gets on to display Dutt’s aggression and Hydari’s token participation against a red and yellow-themed climax featuring a miraculously accumulated crowd of village women in colour-coordinated costumes, Bhoomi’s blood-splattering, bone-crunching vigour is as unwelcome as the rest of this ghastly movie. 

Stars: 1

This review was first published on rediff.com.

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