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Farhad Dalal
Farhad Dalal
3.5 Star popcorn reviewss


Onto the next release of the weekend and during the ongoing Valentine’s Week, Netflix decided to drop a bomb which wasn’t exactly romantic. With that, I finished watching the new Hindi film Bhakshak which is streaming on Netflix and starring Bhumi Pednekar. It was in the year 2018 when the Muzaffarpur Shelter Rape Case shook the nation that involved sexual abuse of 34 out of the total 42 girls. The chief accused was a powerful authority who had links to the Government, something that is hardly shocking these days. And while I remember that the mainstream media then hadn’t exactly highlighted the issue, the core issue did gain spark from other sections of the media which were grounded to reality. Based on this shocking reality which was eventually met with the punishment to the perpetrators, I was quite interested in what the film Bhakshak had to offer in another attempt by Netflix to create content out of a true incident(way to go). So then does Bhakshak manage to impress, let’s find out.

Story & Screenplay

Based on a true incident from 2018, Bhakshak follows the story of a struggling local journalist who investigate a series of harrowing cases involving young girls at a shelter home. Will she be able to get to the bottom of the case? The story here is well intentioned, gritty and hard-hitting while consistently being closer to reality without any added flavours. One minor blip can be attributed to the fact that it builds on a predictable pulse that is devoid of any shockers with respect to the unfolding incidents in the drama that are a little convenient at certain junctures. But the screenplay standing at 135 minutes is powerful and almost reflective of the casual approach of the society as a whole while consuming even the most shocking piece of news, while highlighting the case in itself in the most understated manner possible. 

The drama begins on a rather shocking note with a girl at a shelter home being subjected to chilly in her private parts before being conveniently bumped off, all because she resisted while being subjected to the heinous crime. The perpetrators on the other hand are men working at the shelter home, housing more than 40 young girls with probably each of them being subjected to abuse in a rather shocking manner. The focus shifts to the introduction of the protagonist working as a freelance journalist along with her cameraman whose own news channel hasn’t really taken off much to the dismay of her husband and his relatives. This while she tirelessly subjects herself to the shelter home case after receiving a tip on it from her informant. The writers tactfully utilize the first act in the world building while only briefly exposing the viewers to the reality of the shelter house while only providing a clearer picture at the start of the second act through a character that had barely escaped the trauma. 

The beats of the proceedings are predictable but the narrative style continues to unfold in an understated manner. This at times can be a little frustrating given that we might be used to a narrative that is in your face with something or the other transpiring in terms of the drama umfolding. Contrary to that, there are moments in the narrative that do get informative while focusing strictly on the drama while putting the shock elements on the backburner, as aspect that will divide the viewers. But what the writers do consistently is maintaining the tone of the drama that remains well intentioned while subtly resorting to the atrocities of the girls at the shelter home. This, while also highlighting the importance of journalism that is so important for democracy to function while the reality is far from what is being presented at the mainstream media houses. 

The one complaint that I had was that a few junctures in the screenplay seemed to be a little too convenient for my liking in terms of exposing the truth in the events leading up to the final act. There could have seen a little more complexity or atleast some obstruction to get to the eventual conclusion that would truly have elevated the narrative from a storytelling standpoint. But having said that, the monologue at the end that breaks the fourth wall was soul piercing and almost coaxed you to look within while allowing the drama to linger on from that much more time after it ended. And that for me was a winner from the writing point of view. Overall, the screenplay is well intentioned and niche while subtly making an impact with its writing.

Dialogues, Music & Direction

This is a dialogue heavy film and while the lines are nicely penned, I did feel the preachiness in the drama could further have been controlled to balance the narrative further. The music is good and the sole song truly encapsulates the spirit of the film by evoking the right kind of emotions. The BGM is good as well and I liked the understated nature of the notes that do not overpower the drama on the whole. The cinematography is good capturing some startling frames that will potentially leave you shell-shocked while continuously maintain a grim outlook in conjuction with the lighting and the production design. The editing is crisp and sharp as well. Director Pulkit does a good job in creating the haunting world and establishing the characters well although the execution and staging could have been a little more sharper for a better impact. Nevertheless, the story in itself was so powerful that it did overpower a few of the flaws even with respect to the execution. 


The performances are outstanding by the ensemble cast and once again Mukesh Chhabra the casting director needs to be applauded for his sharp eye for casting some great bunch of actors. Vibha Chibber as Rajni Singh, Chittranjan Tripathi as Mithilesh and Pravin Kumar Sisodia as Brijmohan are wonderful actors and all of them manage to shine. Durgesh Kumar as Guptaji(you may remember him from Panchayat) is incredibly good in an amazing work done. In fact his character briefly dabbles with a hint of black comedy in the narrative which was refreshing to witness. Samta Sudiksha as Gudiya has a wonderful screen presence in a job well done despite a limited screen time. Gulista Alija as Baby Rani is subtly menacing in a wonderful job done! 

Tanisha Mehta as Sudha is beautifully understated with her expressions that have pain and trauma written all over it. She wonderfully underplays her part while maintaining the impact of her character wonderfully well. Satyakam Anand as Sonu(you may know him from Gangs Of Wasseypur as JP Singh) is outstanding to the core. Surya Sharma as Arvind provides a timely reminder on what a fine actor he is with an amazing range. This avatar of his is far from the intimidating character that he essayed in Undekhi, while being affable and sincere in his act. Sai Tamhankar as Jasmeet is assertive and stoic with an emaculate screen presence although I did wish that her character had a little more meat to it. Aditya Srivastava as Bansi delivers an intimidating and haunting act in the most subtle manner possible. 

Sanjay Mishra as Bhaskar is an incredible actor himself and he is super effective in acting as a foil for the character of Vaishali. He is extremely secured as an actor while tactfully throwing one-liners that absolutely hit home in the context of the scenes. Bhumi Pednekar as Vaishali is a revelation in an incredibly well portrayed character. Her body language and mannerisms are spot on while she accurately underplays her character to create subtle impact. She was brilliant here and hope to watch her in more such powerful characters.


Bhakshak is a gritty and well intentioned drama with solid performances that overpowers its flaws while making for a solid watch. Available on Netflix.


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