Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Hindi short film Bebaak which is now streaming on Jio Cinema. Every now and then we do provide our platform for content that needs a voice by simply going ahead and reviewing it. It is our way of giving back to the fraternity while giving a shoutout to the team for the splendid work that they have been doing. Here I must say that I have been getting quite a few requests to watch and review their content and honestly it may not be able to cover all of them. And so I really apologize for not being able to cater to them, and it hurts when I have to put them on the backburner. But my best wishes always remains with the team. Coming back to Bebaak, I did not know what it stood for and what it had in store for me before venturing into the film. All I had heard was a glowing word of mouth about the film, and that is when I decided to give it a go. So then does Bebaak which has premiered as a part of the Jio Cinema festival, manage to impress…let’s find out.
Story & Screenplay
Bebaak follows the story of an economically vulnerable young woman belonging to the Muslim household who falls victim to the religious authorities and their misogyny during a scholarship interview. The story is bold, powerful and quite poignant with respect to its story telling while being completely relevant even if I were to take the religious angle out of the picture. The screenplay standing at just 20 minutes does account for a compelling tale of passive oppression that is reflective of our society today. It is a poignant narrative with plenty of layers to be discovered over the course of the drama. The segment will contain mild spoilers wherein I will try to just analyze the layers of the narrative.
The drama does begin with the introduction of the protagonist with the setting being of a regular Muslim household. The first layer to unfold is the fact that the family themselves aren’t ultra conservative but they are often burdened with the oppressive powers of the society and their religion. The protagonist is shown to be a liberal and somehow who does speak her mind without any inhibitions. How often have we as a society judged people strictly on their appearance and the clothes that they wear? This facet of the society has been captured in its narrative wonderfully well.
The proceedings are engrossing and put on a low flame to allow the events to simmering, onscreen as well as in the minds of the viewers. In a scene, you see the protagonist typing a message to her friend(it maybe a subtle reference to her partner as well) wherein she tells him that she has finally given in, and is appearing for her scholarship interview while being ashamed at the place where she has to go, simply backspacing the name of the place and mentioning ‘In Town’. That scene spoke volumes of the disagreement that the protagonist has to the ways of the authorities while having to give in to their ways.
The layers in the film don’t stop there. In a searing scene, a character, during the interview, starts objectifying the appearance of the protagonist based on the clothes that she has worn while reminding her of the importance of the Hijab to cover her head(and the rest of the body) as written in their ‘religious’ scriptures. This very fact is enough to showcase the fact that religion does oppress people, particularly women which could be cited from the fact that there were no real restrictions for a man with respect to the clothes that he wears. It is the epitome of misogyny particularly when there are talks of equality between men and women.
Further, the protagonist is shown to give in, especially when she doesn’t find support from her ‘passive and mild’ father(while she gets the support from her mother). The events leading up to the final act are very interesting with almost a gold mine to be discovered. The protagonist does come face to face with a young girl for whom the protagonist was a symbol of hope with respect to the attire which she had donned. But at this point, it was a case of dwindling hope while coming face to face with the harsh realities of the society and the religion which she was born in. Yet, contrasting to this sentiment, there is hope given to the viewers with thst subtly bold ending that does fill you up with a lot of emotions. The screenplay here was bold and unapologetic while quietly finding a way to drive home its point.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are powerful and some of the lines will make your blood boil. The messaging was subtle yet nuanced with the lines leaving a solid impact. The BGM aids the drama ahead without overpowering the drama at any given point. The cinematography captures the glimpses of the society pretty well with the art department that paints the surroundings with a brush of gloom thus signifying the vibe of the drama. Another shoutout to the costumes department who are tactful in creating an attire for the protagonist which seemed to be regular but very impactful when seen through the lens of the film. The editing was crisp and sharp as well. Director Shazia Iqbal does a wonderful job here and it did seem like this tale was almost like a leaf from her personal life. She understood the world well and executed the events to perfection without really holding back. The direction was brilliant here even with respect to the messaging that it was aiming for.
The performances are outstanding by the talented bunch of actors. Sheeba Chadha who plays the role of the mother is wonderfully understated. A scene indicates that she may have gone through a similar notion and hence, doesn’t want her daughter to suffer too. And her nuanced act in that scene did hit home with the subtle emotions on show. Vipin Sharma who plays the father is wonderful to watch as well. A mild and a passive character who has surrendered to his fate with respect to the society, he conveys his helpless virtue wonderfully well.
Nawazuddin Siddique who plays the interviewer will make your blood boil with his casual sexist remarks on the attire of a woman. And if that was the sentiment on show then it was a fabulous job done by Nawaz. He is representative of men who never really reflect on their own actions, but often criticize and oppress the opposite gender using religion as a tool(or even otherwise). Another towering act by Nawaz here.
Sarah Hashmi as Fatin is simply outstanding to the core, with her dissentment and her dusmay through her actions and body language. Her eyes speak a thousand unsaid words and her pain is reflected so beautifully in her moving performance. Yet, her assertiveness and defiance at the end would act as hope for so many young girls. It was a phenomenal performance of the highest order.
Bebaak is a bold and defiant drama on the ‘passive’ oppressions of the society with some outstanding performances that comes with my highest recommendation. Available on Jio Cinema and Highly Recommended!