Painting by- Srishti
(Student at Hindu College, University of Delhi)
Unlike most other movies in the Horror genre, the most scary factors do not lie in the demonic spirit - “chudail” and their actions but in the more deeply rooted connections of patriarchy in an otherwise perfectly veiled picture of an exemplary upper class, rich household. The kind of horror dealt with here is the horror human beings create and inflict upon other human beings. Bulbbul is a dark drama, far from comedy & is primarily strengthened by the superstitions that surrounds its prose. People of Nineteenth century Bengal are shown to believe essentially in evil spirits & demonic-women. But their existence is given a noble reason.
Bulbbul (Tripti Dimri) is married to a much older Indranil (Rahul Bose), who lives in a mansion with his mentally challenged twin Mahendra, Mahendra's wife Binodini (Paoli Dam) and a younger brother Satya. Bulbbul and Satya, almost the same age, form an innocent friendship with each other. They are even writing a novel together. Jealous of their growing closeness and some nudging from Binodini, Satya is sent to London to study law.
Bulbbul, on the other hand, is brutally tortured by her husband. Her abuse doesn't end there. In another scene, a bedridden Bulbbul is raped by Mahendra, the challenged brother-in-law. An indifferent Binodini asks her to keep her lips sealed. She says, "Badi haveliyon mein bade raaz hote hain” (big bungalows carry big secrets).
Some would say the sudden transition of Bulbbul from human to a witch in order to teach all who have wronged her a lesson, is a bit much. While that may be true, the metaphorical presentation by the storyline & the powerful performances by the actors makes up for the exaggerated loops.
This movie brings a lot of hidden social illnesses to the forefront & doesn’t try to paint a rosy picture over to lessen or downplay the heinousness of them in reality. From domestic abuse to paedophilia, Bulbbul doesn’t shy away from staring into the darkest of social horrors prevalent all around.
The movie is part of the horror genre & contains a superstitious character, but it very beautifully metaphorically represents the unimaginably frightening elements of society which unfortunately are a day-to-day reality for so many.