Bulbbul Movie Review: Anushka Sharma’s Netflix Production Is Wired All Wrong
Bulbbul, the latest Indian original from Netflix, is a disaster. In a smarter film, its title character — Mrs. Bulbbul Chaudhary (Tripti Dimri, from Laila Majnu) — would have made a fascinating villain. For most of Bulbbul, she’s adorned in the most exquisite sarees and jewellery. Whenever she’s sitting idle, which is nearly always, as the lady of the house, Bulbbul fans herself with peacock feathers. And she makes no attempt to hide her true feelings, smiling ear-to-ear or heartily laughing at the predicament of others. Unfortunately, Bulbbul is stuck in a drab, inert, and ridiculous film, the kind whose plot you can entirely predict after watching the first few minutes. It’s only the film’s characters — except for Bulbbul — who fail to see otherwise, to the point where it all feels like a giant prank, as if they are merely pretending to act oblivious.
Nearly all of that is down to writer-director Anvita Dutt, a lyricist and dialogue writer who makes her directorial debut on the Netflix original. Bulbbul — a period supernatural tale set in Bengal — centres on the folklore of chudail, a woman who rises from the dead (with inverted legs) after an unnatural death. The English subtitles translate it as “demon-woman” but her behaviour on Bulbbul is more akin to a vampire. Though Dutt erases the misogynistic and patriarchal overtones of chudail to put a feminist spin on the story, she doesn’t add to it in any meaningful manner. Moreover, Bulbbul’s Bengal setting makes zero sense. Not a single character talks in anything but Hindi, and the film doesn’t use the localised term for chudail. It may as well be set in any part of (British) India.